As I argued in October of last year, American GDP growth for 2017 would not exceed 2.6 percent. Today, those numbers have been confirmed. Now, the American Left is jumping on the bandwagon, claiming that the economy is doing no better than it was under the sainted Barack Obama’s leadership. This is simply not so. In every measure imaginable, the country is not only doing better, but decisions that President Trump made on his first day in office have set the country up for a positive economic trend going forward. Of course, there is still much work to be done — and neither the Left (nor the declining “Never Trump” Right) are done “resisting” Trump’s agenda.
Also, whatever happens in the economy — despite what President Trump and his acolytes declare in the press — is not entirely the result of President Trump’s actions. For instance, the economy doesn’t wait for a president to take office and then decide whether to expand or contract. That is the decision of the American people, it is the result of centrifugal forces in the global economy, and it relies heavily on the actions of the Federal Reserve, which determines monetary policy for the country.
However, a president can either ameliorate an economic downturn or a president can exacerbate one by calling for (and enacting) policies and regulations that restrain the private sector. The economy was not puttering along under President Obama simply because he wanted it to. Instead, it failed to thrive because he piled on regulations (as well as a hidden tax increase in the form of Obamacare) for years. It discouraged businesses and added to the woes of American workers, thus leading to an overall contraction of the economy, and a decline in overall prosperity (except for the Washington, D.C.-Metro area).
Since his swearing-in ceremony, President Trump has systematically reduced the regulatory state at unprecedented levels. Then, the president helped usher in a tax cut that stimulated positive economic trends going into the new year. Let us not forget the old axiom that the economy is largely based on confidence. As in, how much confidence do consumers, investors, and businesses have that the economy is doing well?
When a president stands up and champions the country; when he advocates for lesser amounts of regulation and lower taxes; when he stands firm on campaign promises — these are all positive indicators for the economy that boost confidence. The more confidence that investors, consumers, and businesses feel, the healthier and more prosperous our economy becomes.
In other words, the president is a cheerleader.
What is the role of a cheerleader? It’s not to help their team win directly; they don’t take the field and physically play the game. Their job is to get the crowd into the game by exciting the crowd. The energy that the crowd exudes translates positively to the players on the field, boosting them enough to focus, and win the game. The president acts the same way in the economy. He lets entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to take the risk and start or expand their businesses; he encourages people to get back to work, as well as to spend their money.
If people are constantly told that America and her institutions are terrible; if Americans (and business leaders) are scolded for being dirty consumers who are polluting the planet; if the president constantly enacts regulation aimed at hurting businesses, the economy will not thrive. This is precisely what occurred under former President Obama’s leadership. But, a president who champions “America First” in all things — no matter what part of the world he is in, or who his audience is — will goose the economy.
Still, keep in mind that because our economy is so complex and large, no one person could ever fully impact it the way the media seems to believe President Trump can. It’s also understandable that President Trump and his staff want to tout positive quarterly growth rates; or that they want to remind everyone that the stock market is hitting all-new highs. Although, they should keep in mind that the stock market is subject to the law of gravity: invariably, it will fall. And, as the Fed tightens its monetary policy by increasing interest rates, the Trump Administration must be prepared for a soberer growth rate for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.
Yet, neither Trump nor his supporters should despair: decisions have been made at the policy level to offset the Fed’s tightening of monetary policy. The Trump Administration has been laying the groundwork for overall positive growth rates with better fiscal policies since day one. Thanks to these actions, the economy will be stronger and healthier going forward — even if its quarterly growth rates don’t always match the rhetoric. When the Trump Administration ends its stay in the White House (hopefully after its second term in 2024), the United States will be set for an economic boom the way it was after the Reagan Administration ended.
So, don’t get lost in the weeds: the economy is stronger than it has been in over a decade — and will continue to get stronger, despite what the media reports.