Deb Fischer Is Guilty Of Grade Inflation
In a recent interview in the Lincoln Journal Star, Senator Deb Fischer gave the Trump presidency a “B” grade. Fischer contended that: “I think the president has good accomplishments to point to after two years in the White House.” Fischer declined to give him an “A” due to his trade polices.
Does Trump really deserve a “B?” Let’s take a look at the record. History doesn’t begin when Fischer gives an interview.
The U.S. Treasury Department says that the national debt has increased by $2 trillion ($2,000,000,000,000) since President Trump took office on Jan. 20, 2017. That’s with Republicans in control of the House and Senate.
The stock market has increased 21% since Trump took office. This is the worst first two year performance for any U.S. president since the Carter presidency in 1977–78. However, this increase will probably be short lived since the stock market continues to sink due to fears of a recession in both the U.S. and China.
In contrast, the Dow rose from a low of around 6,400 in March 2009 to approximately 11,500 by January 2011. In other words, the Dow nearly doubled during Obama’s first two years in office.
Payroll growth scorecard: Obama’s last 23 months vs Trump’s first 23 months: Total hired: 4.85 million vs. 4.46 million Average monthly gain : 211,000 vs. 194,000.
Job growth has been good during the Trump presidency but wage growth has been largely flat. From Kevin Drum of Mother Jones: “In the most recent quarter, real wages grew about 0.2 percent over last year, and a guesstimate based on October and November numbers suggests that in the final quarter real wages grew about 0.4 percent. That’s better than no wage growth, but hardly something Trump can be hanging his reelection hat on.”
According to a survey by Bankrate.com, 60% of Americans didn’t receive a pay increase in the last year. In contrast, the average CEO grabbed $18.9 million in compensation in 2017. This was a 17.6% increase over 2016.
Things are even worse on the agricultural front. Due to Trump’s reckless trade war, soy bean prices have hit a ten year low. As a matter of fact, China imported zero soybeans in November from the U.S. for the first time since trade war began. Before the trade war, China was the world’s largest soybean importer.
One of the consequences of the trade war is that farm bankruptcies in Nebraska are soaring. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings have doubled since 2016 and tripled since 2015.
Conservative economist Ernie Goss recently said the following about the sagging farm economy: “Net farm earnings are projected to be lower in the first half of 2019 than they were in the first half of 2018 (which were lower than the same period in 2017). This is very likely to push bankruptcies, foreclosures and loan restructuring to the highest level in decades.”
The Nebraska Farm Bureau validated Goss’ analysis. This Republican friendly organization has indicated that Trump’s trade war has cost Nebraska farmers $1 billion. The Farm Bureau owes its members an apology for endorsing the five Nebraska Republican members of Congress who have enabled these disastrous tariffs.
Trump’s economic record to date pales in comparison to his predecessor’s. And the problem is that we have probably already reached the economic high water mark of the Trump presidency. The consensus economic forecast for the U.S. is for slower growth in 2019 and perhaps even a recession in 2020.
I would give Trump a grade of “D” so far only because job growth has remained strong. (Thanks Obama.) It could fall to an “F” if we go into a recession. History shows that the economy performs better under a Democratic president. As Harry Truman said: “If you want to live like a Republican, you’ve got to vote for a Democrat.”