Is Donald Trump taking credit for Barack Obama's economic recovery?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Donald Trump is the anti-Obama president. Instead of focusing on policies of his own, the former businessman is trying to dismantle the work from his predecessor. The Iran nuclear deal has been scrapped, the United States has pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, and he has tried - and failed - to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
The current White House incumbent is attempting oneupmanship over Obama. His social media is full of attacks on the former president, and recently he has uploaded videos mocking his predecessor.
For the first time in the Trump presidency, Obama has publicly spoken out about his successor. He had planned to stay out of national politics after leaving the White House, but in a speech he made last week, it has become clear that this is no longer the case.
In a speech he made to students at the University of Illinois, he criticised Trump and the "crazy stuff that is coming out of this White House".
"This is not normal, these are extraordinary times and they are dangerous times," the former president said, “But here’s the good news. In two months we have the chance, not the certainty, but the chance to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics.”
He also called for "a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government".
Obama attacked the GOP: "What happened to the Republican Party? Its central organizsng principle in foreign policy was the fight against communism, and now they’re cozying up to the former head of the KGB."
He also mentioned the economy. Its strong performance is something that Trump likes to brag about, but Obama argues that the recovery came from his presidency. "When you hear how great the economy's doing right now, let's just remember when this recovery started,” he said. "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."
Trump, meanwhile, said he fell asleep whilst watching the speech, and claimed that Obama was trying to take credit for "the incredible things happening to our country". The president has even went as far to tweet that if the Democrats won in 2016, GDP "would have been minus 4 per cent instead of up 4.2 per cent".
A fact check from NBC News refutes this claim. "It is extremely unlikely that the GDP could ever have been negative 4.2 per cent no matter who was elected in 2016," they write. At the height of the 2009 recession, GDP was at -2.5 per cent, and it has not been at or above -4.2 per cent in 86 years.
Talking of the recession, it is important to look at what both presidents inherited when they entered office. Obama entered the White House in the middle of a recession that lasted 18 months. He managed to turn it around, and the United States is now in its 10th year of economic growth - with its 95 straight months of job creation.
Trump, much like his business career which started with "a small donation of $1 million", started his presidency with an advantage. He inherited a booming economy with low unemployment and steady job growth. In the 19 months since his inauguration, the US economy has created 3.58 million new jobs; in the last 19 months of the Obama presidency, a higher number of jobs - 3.96 million - were created.
As Macleans notes, by almost every measure, the performance of the economy under Trump is "indistinguishable from Obama's second term". The only difference is business investment, which was "disappointingly weak" under Obama.
Yahoo News is much more pragmatic with their verdict. They argue that "neither president is solely responsible and yet both deserve some of the credit for an economic recovery that without a doubt began under Obama".
Donald Trump has been riding the economic growth wave started under Barack Obama's presidency, something which he has taken credit for. As his presidency continues, it will be easier to determine the impact of the Trump administration - and whether he would be as vocal with his bragging is left to be seen.