I can never defend the behavior of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE since the election last fall. It deserves condemnation. But this must not detract from his strong economic record, notably when it comes to the progress in the financial status for the middle class and minorities. Millions of people around the country benefited from his “Make America Great Again” policies.
These facts are vital because the historical record should be accurate. No matter what one thinks of Trump, we need to learn the right policy lessons of what works and what does not in creating broad prosperity for America. Trump reduced taxes, unleashed the economy, renewed domestic energy production, and overhauled trade deals to place the country first.
Just like when Ronald Reagan became president, almost all of the liberal commentators and academics predicted that the policy of Trump would not work, and that they would harm the economy and stock market. The Washington Post famously claimed before the 2016 election that “Trump could destroy the world economy.” Did that turn out to be true?
Let us examine the success in the first three years of his administration before the coronavirus flattened the economy. The unemployment rate fell less than 4 percent, which was near the lowest in half a century. The inflation rate fell to 1 percent, which was even below the target level set from the Federal Reserve. This has kept the interest rates on mortgages and many other loans down to the lowest level in modern times.
The portion who fell below the poverty line declined to the lowest level ever recorded in 2019. The wealth of households, including their stocks, savings, and real estate, rose to the highest level in history. The Census Bureau saw the median income rise to above $65,000, up by more than $5,000 in three years and double the gains from the last decade.
Almost all of these benefits were most pronounced for minorities, notably Blacks and Hispanics. Liberals counter this record by saying that Trump is now the first president in modern times to lose jobs in four years. This was clearly a result of the pandemic and, unless the left blames Trump for the coronavirus, the critical issue is how well the economy rebounds.
According to most forecasts of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street, the unemployment rate was estimated to be 8 percent to 10 percent. But it has fallen to less than 7 percent from 13 percent in just six months. The growth rate hit a record of more than 30 percent in the third quarter of last year, and it could reach over 8 percent in the fourth quarter.
It is no wonder that by the end of the term for Trump, a majority of voters said they were better off versus four years ago, even with the coronavirus. Contrary to the economic crisis that Joe Biden says he has inherited, most analysts believe the engine of growth will roar back to life this year. That is because of the vaccines that could save hundreds of thousands of lives at home and millions more across the world with our Operation Warp Speed, another success under Trump. That is not a terrible record at all.
Stephen Moore is an adviser at Freedom Works and former member of the White House economic recovery task force. He tweets at @StephenMoore.