According to Donald Trump, what President Obama handed over to him was …
"As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy," he told the assembled reporters. "To be honest, I inherited a mess. It's a mess.”
Yes. A record 75 consecutive months of job growth leading to a 4.7 percent unemployment rate, a stock market up 150 percent and still rising. Corporate profits at an all time high. And for the first time in almost forty years, middle-class incomes actually on the rise. A mess. The funny thing is, now that his name on on the mailbox, Trump has discovered that this “mess” is just beautiful.
While Donald Trump accuses his predecessor of wiretapping his office and prods Congress to eviscerate his signature domestic achievement, he also demands credit for Obama administration victories that he had nothing or little to do with.
Trump is now anxious to not only claim the 76th and 77th month of the Obama Recovery as his own, he’s suddenly decided that the unemployment numbers and job growth figures that he called “a hoax” during the campaign are now perfect.
Claiming credit for work other people did is the Trump way.
President Trump claimed undue credit for ExxonMobil’s investment announcement — the latest example of the new president’s now-predictable formula: A company announces a U.S. jobs plan that predates Trump’s presidency. The company gives a nod to Trump’s anti-regulation policies. Trump then takes credit for bringing jobs back to the United States. Repeat.
Donald Trump didn’t stop with tweeting his praise of the February jobs report. He also claimed January, even though the data from that month came almost exclusively before he took office.
But then, Trump has already claimed credit not just for Exxon jobs, but jobs at Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Softbank, Sprint and Alibaba … none of which had a thing to do with Trump.
Trump’s bravado on these jobs announcements is becoming a bad joke. He claims credit when little or no credit is due to his policies. Moreover, he is counting these jobs as jobs in the bank, when corporate plans frequently change according to market or economic forces.
As President Obama left office, the economy he built over eight years was still accelerating. Incomes were rising faster year over year. The demand for skilled employees was increasing.
Barack Obama halted a collapsing economy, put the nation back on track, and turned it into the longest period of growth on record.
Are “rural and blue collar areas” stuck in a decades long decline? Yes. They are. Donald Trump was able to benefit from that decline, but the key word there is “decades.” The collapse of rural America didn’t start under Obama, and while the Obama economy did manage to stir the first improvements in middle class income, it didn’t reverse that long and creeping decline.
American manufacturing didn’t fail. America actually manufactures more goods now than at any time in its history. It just employs only a fraction of the people. Agriculture didn’t fail. America still produces more food than any other nation. It just employs only a tiny fraction of the number of people. Even coal mining didn’t fail. The 65,000 people who remain employed as coal miners produced more coal than the 200,000 who were employed a generation ago and far more than the 700,000 who came a generation before that. The industries, and the CEOs at the top of those industries, are doing better than ever.
In a nation where jobs increasingly means service jobs, employment both concentrates around population hubs and rural areas tend to empty out. Neither Barack Obama, nor Donald Trump, can reverse that trend without a radical transformation of the economy.