Crunching the Numbers: Trump Economy = Obama Economy?

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When you crunch the numbers, the Trump economy isn’t any better than the Obama economy. And in some ways, it’s worse.

Last week, the final revised GDP numbers for the fourth quarter of 2018 came out. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis number, growth came in at 2.2 percent. This was a downward revision from the initial estimate of 2.6 percent GDP growth.

With the downward Q4 revision, 2018 economic growth ended up below Pres. Trump’s 3 percent target, coming in at 2.9 percent.

To put this into perspective, this equals Obama’s best year – 2015.

There have been several quarters with GDP growth above 3 percent since Trump took office. But this was also true during Obama’s tenure.

Trump’s best quarter of growth came in Q2 2018 at 4.2 percent. Obama’s best quarter was in the second quarter of 2014 when GDP came in at 5.1 percent. When you boil it all down, economic growth under Trump has roughly mirrored growth under the best years of Obama.

But there is one glaring difference – the expansion of debt.

In fiscal 2015, Obama’s best year of economic growth, the budget deficit totaled $439 billion. This is a big number. But the budget deficit in 2018 was even bigger — $779 billion.

To put things in even more stark perspective, the Trump administration ran an all-time record deficit of $234 billion in February. That’s more than half of 2015’s entire year deficit.

So, basically, the economy under Trump achieved an identical GDP growth number as it did under Obama, but the federal government ran 77 percent higher deficits in the process.

This isn’t to praise Obama. His spending levels were through the roof through much of his presidency. The Obama administration posted three consecutive years of $1 trillion-plus deficits. This is to point out that Trump isn’t doing any better. He has not “rescued” the economy as so many of his supporters seem to think. And the federal government is spending money at an even faster clip under Trump than it did under Obama.

In February, the national debt topped $22 trillion. When President Trump took office in January 2017, the debt was at $19.95 trillion. That’s a $2.06 trillion increase in the debt in just over two years.

Like I said, Obama was no spendthrift, but do you know what the big difference is? The federal government ran trillion-dollar deficits under Obama during a recession. Right now, the economy is supposedly booming. And yet the government is piling up debt as if we were in the midst of a major financial crisis.

I’m not an Obama apologist. I’m certainly no spokesperson for the Democratic Party. The point is the economy is not doing any better with Trump at the helm. Republicans need to face reality and quit pretending that it is.

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