In recent months, President Trump has gotten in the habit of taking credit for “the greatest economy in the history of our country.”
Trump’s claim is false — this is not the greatest economy in American history. To cite just one metric, as ThinkProgress recently detailed, thanks in part to Trump’s trade war, wage growth didn’t keep up with inflation over a one-year period ending in August.
But beyond that, Trump’s talking point also represents an attempt to take credit for the fruits of an economic recovery that began shortly after President Obama took office in 2009, amid the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Obama himself made this point during his speech on Friday in Illinois.
“When I came into office in 2009 we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Millions of people were losing their homes. Many were worried we were entering into a second Great Depression,” Obama said. “So we worked hard to end that crisis, but also to break some of these longer-term trends. And the actions we took during that crisis returned the economy to healthy growth, and initiated the longest streak of job creation on record.”
“By the time I left office, household income was near its all-time high, and the uninsured rate had hit an all-time low, and wages were rising, and poverty rates were falling,” Obama added. “I mention all this just so when you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.”
OBAMA: "When I came into office we were losing 800k jobs a month. Millions of people were losing homes… By the time I left, household income was near its high, uninsured rates hit an all-time low. So when you hear how great the economy is, let's just remember where it started." pic.twitter.com/698WLPLNGr
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
What Obama said is true — America’s economic turnaround began during his first term in office, and Trump in large part is reaping the benefits of economic conditions his administration helped create.
Nonetheless, shortly after Obama wrapped up, President Trump gave a speech of his own in which he criticized Obama for allegedly “trying to take some credit, some credit for this incredible thing that’s happening to our country.”
TRUMP quickly gets to criticizing OBAMA's speech: "I watched it, but I fell asleep. I found him very good — very good for sleeping. I think he was trying to take some credit, some credit for this incredible thing that's happening to our country." pic.twitter.com/FQkX467J0H
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2018
Trump’s comments were misleading. And he wasn’t alone in trying to gaslight the public about Obama’s economic record.
On Twitter, one of Trump’s staunchest allies in the Senate — Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — falsely claimed Obama’s years were “dominated” by “slower growth.”
The Obama years were dominated by higher taxes, slower growth, big government, a broken military, and a pathetically weak foreign policy.
The voters found in Hillary Clinton more of the same.
They wanted a better way.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 7, 2018
In fact, as ThinkProgress has detailed, at various times throughout Obama’s presidency, the economy grew at a rate faster than what Trump has so far achieved.
On Saturday morning, Donald Trump Jr. — who is ostensibly supposed to be managing the Trump family business without meddling in politics — took the lies up a notch in their brazenness, tweeting that Obama’s comments “may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” because his “general hatred of business killed growth for his entire 8 years.”
Obama claiming this economy may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Anyone with a brain knows his policies of over regulation, excessive taxation, and general hatred of business killed growth for his entire 8 years. There’s not a single stat where we aren’t better off today. https://t.co/WANThNjQs3
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 8, 2018
Don Jr.’s tweet was quickly refuted with a single chart by David Frum, senior editor for The Atlantic.
Don Jr. claims Obama "killed growth for his entire 8 years."
Tough to run a business if you cannot read a chart. pic.twitter.com/pyPsdXdfhL
— David Frum (@davidfrum) September 8, 2018
Don Jr. is in the the habit of telling brazen lies about the economy to try and make his dad look good. When news broke in late July that the economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of this year, Don Jr. tweeted, “Just because Obama never broke 2% doesn’t mean that someone with great policies can’t. Let’s keep this going.”
In fact, under Obama, quarterly GDP growth exceeded 2 percent 16 times, hit three percent or higher eight times, hit four percent or higher four times, and even exceeded five percent once.