The White House hopes to boost President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings by using the economy as a centerpiece of its political message in 2018, according to three White House officials, even if many of the president’s successes so far are squarely built on the legacy of former President Barack Obama.Of course, the difference is that Obama inherited an economy in free-fall in January 2009, losing 3.7 million jobs in the 6 months before he took office. Within 1 year, Obama's Administration really had "turned the ship around," the job losses had stopped, and we had nearly 7 straight years of steady (if not spectacular) job growth through the 2016 elections.
But hard economic data on growth, job creation and wages look very similar to the last several years under Obama. The pace of job growth actually slowed slightly to 174,000 per month in 2017 through November, compared with 187,000 per month in Obama’s final year.
Even Trump’s stock market performance is similar to or trails Obama’s. In the first 11 months of Obama’s presidency, the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 37 percent. It rose 18 percent under Trump. The Dow rose 30 percent in Obama’s first 11 months to Trump’s 24 percent.
Despite the underlying similarities to Obama, the White House plans to brand the economy as Trump’s doing in 2018 and sell a message that the nation is actually performing much better now, even before any impact from the tax cut bill. A key piece of the Trump argument will be that economic prospects are even stronger now after a wave of deregulation across federal agencies in 2017.
"We took a big, big beautiful ship that we’re turning around, and a lot of good things are happening," the president said Wednesday while meeting with first responders in West Palm Beach, Florida
And if Trump and the GOP want to say that they somehow stopped the bleeding that was happening and 2016 and "turned that around", there's no evidence of that at all. Job growth has declined in the year since Trump got elected, and is now at the lowest levels in 5 years.
12-month job growth
Nov 2016 +2.32 million
Nov 2017 +2.07 million
That's a drop of nearly 11 percent. Sure, some of that is because we are pretty much in a full employment scenario these day, but lower job growth would be something a normal person would want to draw attention to and claim it to be "improvement."
And it isn't like the tighter labor market is helping the average American, as wage growth is also at a lower rate than it was a year ago.
So what's with this absurd PR push by Trump and other Republicans that the economy is so much better than it was this time last year? It seems to be derived from this misguided belief that right-wingers have that somehow a confidence fairy is what decides all economic growth (or a handful of oligarchs locked away in a room). And if businesses think that times are good to invest, then out of the goodness of their hearts, us peons will see things get better as well.
But in the real world, what determines growth is DEMAND, and demand gets driven up by 1 of 2 reasons.
1. Higher need for products and services
2. Higher wages/incomes allowing for more purchases of products and services, regardless of need.
Well, most people are not getting number 2, and while people are spending at pre-Great Recession levels of recklessness, many of us recognize that won't last and will lead to Bubbles popping and recessions. So Trump and the Republicans choice is to try to trick rubes with psy-ops and claim that things are getting better when the jobs and wages numbers have changed very little in the last year (and if anything, have slowed down).
But what should we expect? After all, the long form of the term "con" is "confidence game". And Donald Trump along with lesser grifters like Scott Walker are nothing if not con men. So don't be a sucker and don't buy into the relentless PR bullshit that these economically illiterate men will try to sell over the next 10 months.