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Michael Hiltzik: Trump says the economy is doing great — but whose economy is it?

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

President Trump and his economic advisors have been taking a rather premature victory lap about the nation's economic performance during his three years in office.

It's premature in part because Trump's term isn't over yet. And also because the economy hasn't performed nearly as well as he says, even if one discounts a good portion of his rhetoric as bombast.

In his State of the Union address earlier this month, Trump proclaimed the economy to be "the best it has ever been."

In the foreword to the latest report from his Council of Economic Advisors, released Thursday, Trump boasts of having "championed policies to restore the United States' economic strength ... including tax cuts, deregulation, energy independence, and trade renegotiation."

The report itself, however, acknowledges that as of December the U.S. economic expansion had reached its 127th month, meaning that it began 7 1/2 years before Trump took office.

As for his assertion that his economy is the best in U.S. history, the rationale for that claim is a mystery. It's not true by any measure.

 

Much of Trump's economic rhetoric is aimed at the Obama administration by asserting, as he does in the latest White House economic report, that he has reversed "trends seen under the previous administration."

(He may have been goaded by a tweet issued by Obama on Feb.17 marking the 11th anniversary of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Obama tweeted that the act had paved the way "for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history.")

With Trump's tenure entering its fourth year, evidence is mounting that the economic expansion under his leadership has left millions of Americans behind. The government's own statistics demonstrate that large sectors of the economy -- including those for which Trump is making especially bold claims -- aren't performing well at all.

They include coal mining, which appears to have become bound in an implacable doldrums since 2016, and manufacturing, which entered a recession late last year and in which employment has, at best, stagnated.

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