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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/17/20

Trump's Legacy: Lies, Death and a Catastrophic Failure

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Donald Trump the Virus
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According to his Cabinet officers, senior aides, and George Conway, the husband of one of his closest advisors, Trump is an idiot, moron, racist, narcissistic sociopath lacking any human conscience who is unfit for any position of trust. Trump does have one superpower, however, that has allowed him to escape his ineptitude and that is the power of myth which he doggedly repeats no matter how distant it may be from the truth (and which the media all too willingly has amplified).

Understanding and debunking these myths are essential to deflating Trump's whole premise for reelection. This is especially true when it comes to the economy.

The "Self-Made" Successful Business Tycoon

During an NBC Town Hall appearance in 2015, then-candidate Trump claimed that life "had not been easy for" him and that he was able to parlay a $1 million loan from his father into "billionaire status." In reality his father gifted young Donald approximately $413 million in present-day dollars and that made all the difference.

Had Trump merely put his father's money in an index fund he would be worth billions more than he is today, but instead the "very stable genius" pursued bad business venture after bad business venture including Trump Airlines, Trump Entertainment Resorts (casinos), Trump Magazine, Trump Mortgage, Trump Steak, Trump University, and Trump Vodka; counting on his father or a bankruptcy court to bail him out. In addition to bearing the Trump signature mark of failing and default (especially on obligations to workers), they also involved numerous allegations of fraud and violations of the law.

The President of "the Greatest Economy" in History

President Trump claimed in his RNC acceptance speech that "[w]ithin three short years, we built the strongest economy in the history of the world." This simply is false.

FactCheck.org debunked President Trump's contention by noting that, while the U.S. is still the largest economy in the world (and has been as far back as 1871), the Trump economy is not even the strongest economy in U.S. history. Trump's annual GDP growth places him between 29th and 44th over the past 60 years.

In statements like these, we see how Trump's false claims of business success match his false claims as a steward of the economy.

Yes, the President did inherit an economy on the brink of depression and overcame the obstruction of the opposing party to resuscitate the American economy and led the longest economic expansion in U.S. history -- but that President was Barack Obama. The reality is that, prior to the pandemic, the economy's performance under Trump was merely a continuation of the Obama expansion.

How Trump Damaged the Economy

Just as Trump parlayed his father's large fortune into a smaller fortune by foolish investments, Trump hampered the expansion he inherited from President Obama through his trade war with China which cost 300,000 jobs and led to a 24 percent increase in farm bankruptcies despite Trump's $28 billion farmer bailout (which is twice the size of the 2009 auto industry bailout). The conservative Tax Foundation estimates that Trump's various trade wars with China and our allies ultimately may cost nearly 400,000 jobs and lead to a reduction of 0.51% in long-run GDP.

Trump's tax giveaway to the rich, which Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said would fuel 3% per year GDP growth and pay for itself, has had little impact on jobs and has spiked the deficit by $1.9 trillion over the next decade. This may hamper the government's ability to provide further stimulus in response to the COVID crisis.

Other Trump policies that have or will damage economic growth include a failure to fulfill his promise on a $1 trillion infrastructure program;1 anti-immigration policies that have created a boom in Toronto and Vancouver as Canada attracts a larger share of global tech talent;2 and ignoring climate change which already is having substantial economic effects on our economy.3

It's COVID and the Economy, Stupid

Trump expects voters to judge him on his handling of the economy prior to the COVID pandemic and promises that he will revive the economy post-COVID. Voters should not be fooled, however, since as Bob Woodward's book Rage reveals Trump fails to recognize how the two are intertwined. Two of the biggest revelations from Woodward's released audio recordings from the Trump interviews were:

  • Trump's statements about the lethality of COVID and his intentional downplaying the severity of the virus; and
  • Trump's final exchange with Woodward in which he appears more concerned with the performance of the stock market and sees little connection between COVID and the economy.

Reading these together and coupled with Trump's silencing of Nancy Messonnier (the director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases) after the markets took a dive following her frank assessment on February 25th that the pandemic was coming to our shores, you see a President fixated on the stock market (which is not a true measure of the economy) and determined to avoid a market panic to safeguard his political viability rather than safeguarding the health and well being of the country and its citizens.

COVID's Economic Costs

Trump clearly does not grasp how combatting COVID and the economy are related which is why he has gone from presiding over the tail end of the largest economic expansion in history to being the worst jobs President in U.S. history - losing 7.8 million jobs.

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Bennet Kelley is an award-winning columnist, a political commentator, radio host and the former Co-Founder and National Co-Chair of the Democratic National Committee's Saxophone Club (its young professional fundraising and outreach arm during (more...)
 

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