Liberals, prepare yourselves — the economy could start out really strong under Trump
Anti-Trumpers often like to think facts are on their side.
And sometimes they are. While winning the Electoral College vote that gave him the presidency, Trump lost the popular vote by roughly 2.8 million ballots. Trump’s inauguration crowds were much smaller than President Obama’s. Trump was sworn in with historically low approval ratings for an incoming president.
After all, if the facts weren’t against Trump, why would the administration offer “alternative facts”?
But the thing about facts is, they don’t take sides.
And liberals need to recognize that economic facts will likely show that under President Trump, the U.S. economy continues to have significant momentum. The world’s largest economy could even show signs of gaining strength over the next few months, despite a somewhat disappointing rate of growth in 2016.
Economists expect that Friday’s U.S. jobs report — the first since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 — will show yet another month of solid job growth. (They expect roughly 175,000 new jobs will have been created during the month, the 76th consecutive month of U.S. job growth, leaving the unemployment rate at 4.7 percent)
And the employment news could easily be better than expected. For instance, a key gauge of manufacturing activity shows that American factories are picking up steam, with more respondents to the survey of plant purchasing managers suggesting that hiring is accelerating.
So those are the facts. You can always fight over what they mean. Those mourning the loss of the Obama administration can point to 75 consecutive months of job growth under the Democrat, and the decline of unemployment from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 4.7 percent upon his departure.
But Trump partisans may also have some facts that can provide grist for the political mill. If, say, there’s an uptick in the kind of manufacturing jobs that Trump is pushing companies to add, I wouldn’t expect his camp to be shy about taking credit.
Another fact that U.S. presidents have to confront is that, while they often get blame and credit for economic performance, they aren’t really in charge of the U.S. business cycle.
Trump’s ideology-bending economic policy, such as it is, is a murky mix of anti-trade protectionism and calls for federal spending, blended with some traditional Republican ideas like cutting taxes deeply for the wealthy and deregulation. An added dash of unparalleled personal involvement from Trump himself in corporate decision-making, gives it that trademark Trumpian flavor.
Most economists expect this to be a disaster for the U.S. economy over time. But we’ll just have to wait for the facts — provided they continue to be collected by America’s world-class, professional, nonpartisan, statistical services — to find out.