Juan Williams: Trump ought to thank Obama

Juan Williams: Trump ought to thank Obama
© Getty

Thanks, Obama!

That’s the public message President Trump needs to send immediately to his predecessor to thank him for low unemployment and record stock market performance during Trump’s first seven months in the White House.

Instead, Trump is busy boasting about a “Trump Bump.”

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Trump tweeted recently: “Highest stock market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages rising, border secure: No WH chaos.”

 

I will leave the amazing claim of no chaos in the Trump White House to others. Please direct inquiries to Anthony Scaramucci, who spent a few days as White House communications director.

But the first part of the tweet, suggesting Trump has jumpstarted a moribund economy, is Pinocchio-level astounding.

Going into what is shaping up to be a turbulent fall season — with his approval rating at historic lows near 38 percent and the Russia probe now in the hands of a grand jury — Trump is grasping for any positive news.

The good economy has become his most frequent boast to assure his base that he is delivering something for them.

But recall that candidate Trump dismissed official reports of strong economic numbers when they came under Obama by saying the Federal Reserve was creating a “false economy” and the stock market was rising due to an “artificial” bubble.

As recently as December, Trump said the unemployment rate was “total fiction.” During the campaign, Trump told voters “don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 percent or 5 percent” and “the number is probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

Did he really say unemployment had reached 42 percent? Yes, and Politifact rated the claim as a “pants on fire” outright lie.

Now that Trump is president, he is telling his voters that the numbers are real. These are the same economic numbers from the same source calculated in the same way. Is it any wonder Americans question the president’s honesty and some question his sanity?

Let’s review some hard facts:

The unemployment rate for June 2017 was 4.4 percent. In December 2016, the last full month of the Obama administration, it was 4.7 percent.

Contrast those numbers to the unemployment rate in February 2009, the first full month of the Obama administration: 8.3 percent. Now that is the triumph of a good economic policy. It is an indisputable reality that the unemployment rate decreased during President Obama’s time in office.

Thanks, Obama.

Honest politics requires context. The context for America’s current economic performance is that the national economy was in danger of going over the edge in 2009, into a second Great Depression.

Trump’s distortion of the stock market’s rise is a similar story of presenting numbers without context.

Sorry, President Trump, but the fact is that when President Obama took office the Dow Jones Industrial Average was around 8,000. When he left office, it was on the verge of 20,000. The NASDAQ more than tripled under Obama’s tenure.

Any subsequent increase in market averages is based on the tremendous rise that took place under Obama.

Thanks, Obama.

Obama also saved the American auto industry, overhauled the student loan industry, and provided health insurance to 20 million Americans who previously did not have it.

Recently, Trump boasted that 2.6 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is “a number that nobody thought they’d see for a long period of time.”

But Obama had 13 quarters of higher GDP growth, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In fact, the New York Times noted that “since the beginning of the recovery in 2010, growth has averaged 2.1 percent.”

Thanks, again.

Trump recently traveled to Wisconsin to associate himself with the Taiwanese company Foxconn’s decision to build a plant there and employ 3,000 people. But the state is giving the company a $3 billion package of incentives. And the same company promised to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania four years ago, but nothing has come of that pledge.

After winning the election, Trump traveled to Indianapolis to celebrate Carrier’s promise not to move jobs to Mexico after the state and local government gave the company tax breaks. But Carrier has since announced a plan to lay off 600 workers in August.

A majority of voters are not buying Trump’s economic spin.

A July poll from Quinnipiac University found that 52 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the economy. He has a fading 41 percent approval rating for his handling of the economy.

A cynic might give Trump and his GOP Congress credit in the sense that their failure to do anything prevented the reversal of the economic gains made by the Obama administration.

That pattern may continue.

On Capitol Hill, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEx-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Ocasio-Cortez top aide emerges as lightning rod amid Democratic feud MORE (R-Wis.) has made it clear that any tax cuts have to be revenue neutral — in other words, Trump will have to cut spending to prevent the deficit from exploding with lower tax rates for corporations and the rich.

As a result, the prospect for passing tax cuts grows dimmer by the day.

Despite seven months of the Trump administration, the Obama economy is still going strong. It is so strong that Trump wants to claim it as his own.

Thanks, Obama.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.