This Update About The Economy Shouldn't Be News To Donald Trump (And, Yet, It Is!)
Donald Trump has made his economic vision very clear: It sucks. In addition to Trump's blaming immigrants for oh-so-many problems plaguing the United States, the Republican presidential candidate has based much of his campaign on complaints about the state of the economy. Trump has blamed Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, trade deals, and immigrants again for the terrible economy America is facing, with outstandingly high unemployment, falling Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and people falling into poverty.
Except, y'know, Trump's claims about a terrible economy are largely incorrect. The unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent, less than half of what it was at the peak of the recession, and the Obama economy has consistently added jobs for the longest consecutive streak on record. GDP growth has been at an average of 2 percent — not amazing, but not bad. And after the crash in the midst of the financial crisis, the stock market has rebounded under Obama to far beyond its pre-crash highs.
But this hasn't stopped Trump from just ignoring the facts and claiming that economic good news is a conspiracy by Obama. In a CNBC interview Monday, Trump claimed that Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has been artificially keeping interest rates low to help the current president and should be "ashamed," despite the Fed being staunchly independent from the White House — and economic growth/an improving stock market being its deliberate goal.
Tuesday, the White House released its annual report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance. The results for 2015 were very good — good enough to make a man with a title as boring as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors tweet with glee:
The report found that in the year 2015, household wages grew by the biggest margin in history, while poverty declined more than any year since 1968. On both factors, the United States is still in a bit of a hole compared to 2007, before the start of the Great Recession. However, it is in the best shape its been in since the crash. And health insurance rates — a special point of interest for the Obama administration — are at their highest levels ever. There are other pieces of good news to find if you're enough of a nerd to look for them — such as the lowest gender pay gap in history, and shrinking inequality, especially among racial minorities.
Democrats have been quick to trumpet (pun intended) the good news. At a rally in Philadelphia for Clinton, Obama touted his economic record in contrast to the strange one Trump talks about.
So much of Trump's candidacy has been based on anger at a system that his supporters feel has abandoned them. There has long been debate about the source of Trump's appeal — some have argued it's economic anxiety, while other point to more cultural issues. While Trump's supporters may feel relatively high levels of economic anxiety (regardless of their financial status), hopefully this latest report will allay some of their fears, so he can stop playing to them.