Progressives Don't Want Trump to Get Credit for the 'Obama Economy'

President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama / Getty
July 9, 2018

Barack Obama aide-turned-MSNBC contributor Ben Rhodes made a funny remark last week about President Donald Trump, saying the president was "touting the Obama economy."

Can we still say that 18 months in? It's become a common talking point among progressives since Trump took office and initiated a large tax cut package and regulation slashing campaign, and it's even come out of the mouths of those who predicted economic downturn once he entered the White House.

Obama, like the candidate he supported, spent more time attacking Trump's personal deficiencies than focusing on his policies in 2016, but he did say at one rally Trump had "nothing serious to offer on jobs."

Obama's next breath was correct—"there hasn't been enough talk about this economy in this election"—but he wasn't particularly gracious during a speaking engagement last year as the economy continued to surge under Trump. Pointing out the streak of job growth begun under him had continued, he quipped, "Thanks, Obama."

On MSNBC in 2016, far-left pundit Joan Walsh admonished Trump for planning to return to the Bush policy of "massive tax cuts" that "cost us jobs." On CNN in a February appearance with host Don Lemon, she was in no mood to credit the incumbent administration for the record low in black unemployment. Walsh snarked "Thanks, Obama" and added Trump had done "nothing" and "deserves no credit."

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, then the Secretary of Labor, predicted Trump would be a "train wreck for workers" in 2016, but last year after a strong October jobs report, he issued a statement that Trump was "taking credit for the strength of the economy he inherited from President Obama."

Perez is still coming to grips with the Trump administration's existence, to be fair—he introduced Obama as the "real President of the United States" at a Beverly Hills fundraiser last month.

The predictions of an economic doomsday hardly ended.

Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said a recession would take hold within 18 months if Trump was elected; as it is, Sunday will mark 19 months since Election Day, 2016.

Hillary Clinton said Trump's policies would "hurt a lot of people" and cause recession, while her running mate Tim Kaine quoted a John McCain campaign official at his Democratic National Convention speech and said Trump would cost the U.S. economy 3.5 million jobs.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman showed why you probably shouldn't blog when you're angry when he wrote two hours before Trump had even declared victory there would be a "global recession, with no end in sight."

So far, the job growth has had no end in sight. The first Friday of July brought another good report, with 213,000 jobs added in June, a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to 4.0 percent as the labor force participation rate rose, and further positive wage growth.

The American people are feeling the positivity. That doesn't translate to overall popularity for Trump—the mid-to-high 40s appears to be his peak—but 57 percent of CNN poll respondents last month said things are going well in the U.S., the highest measurement in the survey since 2007. After Trump's first year when Americans were more likely to credit Obama for economic gains, a plurality say it's Trump's economy now.