Russell Vought, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget, was in the White House Briefing Room on Monday to put some gold plating on the Buddha that is President Trump’s budget proposal.
Vought was answering a question from ABC’s Jon Karl, who mentioned that Trump had promised to eliminate the national debt in eight years. He then pointed out that the debt has gone up by around $2 trillion during Trump’s two years in office, a historic growth rate. Karl wanted to know “what happened to that promise.”
Vought responded by blaming the Obama administration for nearly doubling the national debt, then saying “He also came into office and had an economic recovery that was needed to put people back to work.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate when Trump took office in January of 2017 was 4.8 percent. Two years later, it is down to 3.8 percent. That means the drop in the rate under Trump is about one-half of a percentage point per year, which is slightly below the average yearly drop during the Obama administration.
Furthermore, there is zero indication that Trump has done anything special to create more jobs. There has been no economic stimulus. There were corporate tax cuts that companies mostly used for stock buybacks instead of wage increases.
One can criticize the quality of jobs that have been created during the economic expansion. Perhaps they do not pay as well, or do not have full benefits such as healthcare, or are contractor positions. But a strict look at the numbers does not back up Vought’s assertion.
Vought tried to rewrite history a bit by claiming that unemployment was somehow unacceptably high when Trump took office and making it sound as if the president had inherited a crisis. When in fact what Trump inherited was the longest economic expansion in American history.
This is a typical Trump move. He claims a crisis where there was none (see e.g. the idea that America and North Korea were on the brink of war when he took office), after which he spins even the tiniest bit of positive news as not just a fix, but a history-making accomplishment. His flunkies are expected to do the same. On Monday, Vought earned his paycheck.
Watch a clip above, via C-SPAN.