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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Summation of Trump’s Actual Record

If you were looking for a succinct summary of Trump’s real record as president to share, Heather Digby Parton has a good one, “Worse than inflation: Let’s remember Trump’s real record in office,” at Salon. Start here:

Public opinion polls about the current presidential race are mystifying in a lot of ways. How can it be that the twice impeached, convicted felon Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party again? As inexplicable as it is to many of us, I think after eight years we have to accept that almost half the country is beguiled by the man while the other half looks on in abject horror and carry on from there. But as much as we may be dismayed by this adoration and fealty to Trump the man, it’s still maddening that so many voters — including even Democrats — insist that everything was so much better when Donald Trump was president. I can’t believe that people have forgotten what it was really like. By almost any measure it was an epic sh**show.

One obvious explanation is that Trump lies relentlessly about his record. So after a while people start to believe him. According to Trump, we had unprecedented prosperity, the greatest foreign policy, the safest, the cleanest, the most peaceful world in human history and it immediately turned into a toxic dystopia upon his departure from the White House.

The reality, of course, was far different.

From the day after the election, Trump’s presidential tenure was a non-stop scandal. Even in the early days of the transition, there were substantial and well-founded charges of corruption, nepotism and collusion with foreign adversaries. There was the early firing of Trump’s national security advisor, the subsequent firing of the FBI director and eventually the appointment of a special counsel. He did manage to set a record while in the White House: the highest number of staff and cabinet turnovers in history, 85%. Some were forced out due to their unscrupulous behavior, others quit or were fired after they refused to carry out unethical or illegal orders ordered by the president. This continued throughout the term until the very last days of his presidency when a handful of Cabinet members, including the attorney general, resigned over Trump’s Big Lie and refusal to accept his loss.

Yes, those were really good times. Let’s sign on for another four years of chaos, corruption and criminality.

But, let’s face facts. What people think they miss about the Trump years was the allegedly great pre-pandemic economy and the world peace that he brought through the sheer force of his magnetic personality. None of that is remotely true. The Trump economy was the tail end of the longest expansion in history begun under President Barack Obama and the low interest rates that went with it. Nothing Trump did added to it and he never lived up to even 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%.

Inflation started its rise at the beginning of the pandemic (Trump’s last year) and continued to rise sharply in the first year of the Biden administration before it started to come back down. The reasons are complex but the fact that it was lower under Trump is simply a matter of timing. Trump’s economy was good but it wasn’t great even before the pandemic. He had higher unemployment than we have now, he blew out the deficit with his tax cuts and his tariffs accomplished zilch. Sure, the stock market was roaring but it’s even higher now.

Unlike Trump, who simply rode an already good economy, Biden started out with the massive crisis Trump left him and managed to dig out from under it in record time. No other country in the world has recovered as quickly and had Trump won re-election there’s little evidence in his record that he could have done the same. All he knows is tariffs and and tax cuts and he’s promising more of the same.

On the world stage, he was a disaster. From his ill-treatment of allies to his sucking up to dictators from Kim Jong Un to Vladimir Putin, everything Trump did internationally was wrong. He was impeached for blackmailing the leader of Ukraine to get him dirt on Joe Biden, for goodness sakes! Does that sound like a sound foreign policy decision? The reverberations of his ignorant posturing will be felt for a generation even if he doesn’t win another term.

Read more here.

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