Trump and Obama: Tale of the tape

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Trump and Obama: Tale of the tape

Sunday, February 09, 2020

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President Donald Trump cannot help himself. The United States economy has recorded growth for 127 consecutive months since June 2009 — the longest ever period of sustained growth when computed on a monthly basis. Mr Trump is entitled to brag and boast, even though he has been president for only 36 of those months.

When calculated on an annual basis, it doesn't measure up to the 16-year period 1992-2007 or the 15-year period 1959-1973. Aggregate growth since 2009 has been 25 per cent — less than most other 10-year periods in US post-war history.

Much of the success for which Mr Trump claims credit was under way before he came to office. Still, there were enough positives for him to have made an impressive State of the Union address and claim his share of credit without being disingenuous and churlish and going out of his way to discredit and disparage his predecessor, Barack Obama.

His text did not need to be laced with inaccuracies such as:

“The years of economic decay are over”;

“In just three short years we have shattered the mentality of American decline”;

“From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the US economy”; and

“If we hadn't reversed the failed economic policies of the previous Administration, the world would not now be witnessing this great economic success.”

The table below of critical indicators extracted from official US Government publications tells the true story of how well the US economy has performed in Trump's three years when compared to the last three years of the Obama Administration.

There is a decorum and urbanity that were once associated with the White House. Obviously, that is too much to expect from one who insists that he is “an extremely stable genius” with “unmatched wisdom”.

My greatest surprise is that so many people in America seem to agree with him and with virtually everything he says and does, however egregious or outrageous. Or, if they don't, they are too scared of him to allow him to think otherwise. That level of fear of a president is unknown to American politics and is cause for deep concern.

The relatively good performance of the economy has been, in large part, the wind beneath Mr Trump's wings. It is critical to his re-election hopes come November. Most forecasts had projected a modest slowdown in economic activity over the next three years with growth slipping to 1.8 per cent in 2022. This was before the emergence of the novel coronavirus. We can expect him to rely more heavily on his Pied Piper skills as November approaches.

— Bruce Golding is a former prime minister of Jamaica


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