Many remember solid economy under Trump, but his record also full of tax cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — It was a time of fear and chaos four years ago.

The death count was mounting as COVID-19 spread. Financial markets were panicked. Oil prices briefly went negative. The Federal Reserve slashed its benchmark interest rates to combat the sudden recession. And the U.S. government went on a historic borrowing spree — adding trillions to the national debt — to keep families and businesses afloat.

But as Donald Trump recalled that moment at a recent rally, the former president exuded pride.

“We had the greatest economy in history,” the Republican told his Wisconsin audience. “The 30-year mortgage rate was at a record low, the lowest ever recorded … 2.65%, that’s what your mortgage rates were.”

The question of who can best steer the U.S. economy could be a deciding factor in who wins November’s presidential election. While an April Gallup poll found that Americans were most likely to say that immigration is the country’s top problem, the economy in general and inflation were also high on the list.

Trump may have an edge over President Joe Biden on key economic concerns, according to an April poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. The survey found that Americans were more likely to say that as president, Trump helped the country with job creation and cost of living. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans said that Biden’s presidency hurt the country on the cost of living.

But the economic numbers expose a far more complicated reality during Trump’s time in the White House. His tax cuts never delivered the promised growth. His budget deficits surged and then stayed relatively high under Biden. His tariffs and trade deals never brought back all of the lost factory jobs.

And there was the pandemic, an event that caused historic job losses for which Trump accepts no responsibility as well as low inflation — for which Trump takes full credit.

If anything, the economy during Trump’s presidency never lived up to his own hype.


Trump assured the public in 2017 that the U.S. economy with his tax cuts would grow at “3%,” but he added, “I think it could go to 4, 5, and maybe even 6%, ultimately.”

If the 2020 pandemic is excluded, growth after inflation averaged 2.67% under Trump, according to figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Include the pandemic-induced recession and that average drops to an anemic 1.45%.

By contrast, growth during the second term of then-President Barack Obama averaged 2.33%. So far under Biden, annual growth is averaging 3.4%.


Trump also assured the public that his tax cuts would pay for themselves because of stronger growth. The cuts were broad but disproportionately favored corporations and those with extreme wealth.

The tax cuts signed into law in 2017 never fulfilled Trump’s promises on deficit reduction.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the deficit worsened to $779 billion in 2018. The Congressional Budget Office had forecasted a deficit of $563 billion before the tax cuts, meaning the tax cuts increased borrowing by $216 billion…

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