Trump seeks to distance strong economy from Obama policies in White House report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE is seeking to downplay former President Obama’s impact on a steady stretch of economic growth and job gains in a White House report released Thursday, claiming credit for the continued strength of the economy.

Trump and top White House economists sought to dispel claims that the president did little to improve on the growing economy he inherited from Obama, a key argument of his reelection campaign.

The U.S. has added jobs in each month since July 2009 while maintaining positive economic growth, shattering a record for the longest stretch of prosperity in U.S. history.


While economists credit a wide range of economic and fiscal policies for the expansion, Trump and his top aides argue in the 2020 Economic Report of the President that their agenda is responsible for avoiding a widely expected slowdown during his term.

“The current economy is not a continuation of expansion after the Great Recession,” Tomas Philipson, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a conference call with reporters.

“Those who say this is currently a continuation of the past expansion are contradicting what they themselves said in 2016," he added.

Trump frequently boasts that under his watch the U.S. has defied a prediction among most economists in 2016 that U.S. growth and job gains would slow from the pace enjoyed under Obama. 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth to slow to 2.2 percent in 2018 and 1.7 percent in 2019, with the jobless rate lingering between 4.5 and 4.8 percent in that time. Instead, GDP rose to 2.9 percent in 2018 before falling to 2.4 percent in 2019 as the unemployment rate reached a 50-year low of 3.5 percent last year.

“President Obama is now trying to take credit for the Economic Boom taking place under the Trump Administration,” Trump tweeted Monday in response to a tweet from Obama commemorating his signing of the 2009 stimulus bill.


“He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers....ever,” Trump continued. 

Trump’s critics claim the president is benefiting from the impact of Obama’s economic policies and the Federal Reserve’s maintenance of low interest rates throughout both of their terms in office. 

The economy added an average of 224,000 jobs each month during the final three years of Obama’s presidency for a total of 8.1 million jobs, according to Labor Department data, compared to an average monthly job gain of 182,000 jobs under Trump’s first three years for a total of 6.6 million jobs.

Economists across the ideological spectrum also say that while the economy has far exceeded expectations during Trump’s term, it is too soon to gauge the impact of his tax cuts and deregulation on the long-term prospects for U.S. growth.

But Trump and his top economic advisers insist that their efforts have accelerated the economy, even as it remains roughly on the same trajectory as it was before he took office.

“You can’t cherry pick years of Obama and then compare it to Trump,” Philipson said, blaming Obama for “the slowest recovery on record since the Great Depression.”

Even so, Philipson said Trump deserves credit for continuing the pace of jobs gains seen under Obama because “it's much harder to grow jobs when everyone has a job, and that is taking into account why economists in 2016 predicted what they did in terms of job growth going forward.”