During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Mitt Romney made a not-so-bold promise about the stewardship he would provide for the American economy. “I can tell you,” he guaranteed, “after a period of four years, by virtue of the policies we'd put in place, we'd get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent—perhaps a little lower.” Romney’s pledge was greeted with a mixture of yawns and giggles, and with good reason. The overwhelming consensus of economists, including those from the Obama administration, private forecasters, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), was already predicting the jobless rate would drop to 6 percent by the end of 2016. As it turned out, President Barack Obama blew past those numbers, leaving office in January 2017 with an unemployment rate of just 4.7 percent.
Now, six years after Mitt Romney tried to take credit in advance for Barack Obama’s upcoming second term, Donald Trump is pretending the Obama economic expansion that began in June 2009 never happened at all. Currently in its 111th month and featuring 97 consecutive months of private sector job creation, the Obama expansion cut unemployment in half, more than doubled the stock market, saved the U.S. auto industry, led to growing gross domestic product and rising consumer confidence, all while slashing annual budget deficits by almost two-thirds. With the exception of the mushrooming national debt on Trump’s watch, almost every trend already underway when he skulked into the White House has continued without interruption. Like Romney four years before, President Trump just needed to show up on Inauguration Day to laissez les bon temps rouler. Instead, Trump has repeatedly suggested history began on Jan. 20, 2017.
That, after all, is the obvious, if unintended, meaning of Trump’s never-ending and never-true boasts that “we have the greatest economy in the history of our country.” The 800-pound donkey is the room is that since World War II, the economy grew faster, more jobs were created, and incomes rose more quickly under many presidents, almost all of them Democrats. When Trump bragged in July that “we’ve accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportions,” his predecessor Barack Obama felt obligated to administer a healthy dose of the truth. As Obama put it in September:
When you hear how great the economy’s doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started. I mean, I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers, suddenly Republicans are saying it’s a miracle. I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.
The Washington Post wasn’t the only one dishing out the Pinocchios in response to Donald Trump’s fabrications.