Op-Ed: Trump leaving with ‘a historically bad economic record’? Let’s look at the facts

This article originally appeared on Fox Business on December 21, 2020.


In a recent op-ed titled “Trump will leave office with a historically bad economic record,” CNN’s White House correspondent John Harwood argues that placing Trump’s results “alongside those of his predecessors paints a deeply unflattering portrait.” I guess it depends on who is doing the painting.


In reality, President Trump’s economic record is one for which any president would be proud — and any Democrat would be praised.


First, a little context. The last eight months of the Trump presidency have been severely impacted by a worldwide pandemic. Comparing Trump’s economic record to that of other president’s without factoring in the pandemic is like comparing the number of U.S. combat deaths under President Lincoln to that of other presidents without factoring in the Civil War.


People will debate for decades the effectiveness of economic lockdowns in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but their negative impact on the economy is unquestionable.


Surely we all knew shutting the economy down would kill jobs and reduce economic growth. It’s the height of hypocrisy to support economic lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus and then criticize President Trump for the obvious negative consequences.


For example, let’s take Harwood’s assertion that Trump is the only president since the end of World War II to leave the White House with fewer people employed than when he entered. As of November, there were 2.4 million fewer people employed than in January of 2017.


But, under Trump and before the pandemic, the number of people employed rose to an historic high of nearly 159 million or 6.6 million more than when he took office. Due solely to the pandemic lockdowns, by April that number dropped precipitously by over 25 million people to 133.4 million, the lowest number of people employed since 1999.


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