OPINION — Joe Biden’s detractors are telling folks that Republicans under Donald Trump offer the surest route to prosperity, once COVID-19 is behind us.
As a practicing CPA and former Republican, I believe it’s essential that we have an honest accounting of President Trump’s economic performance before we judge whether he has the skill and experience to lead us out of the current crisis.
First, let’s examine President Trump’s mismanagement of the federal deficit which has skyrocketed past the Obama/Biden Administration.
In 2008, as Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden led an effort now seen as an “effective and remarkably fraud-free response to the financial crisis.” Once the Obama-Biden administration stabilized the economy, the deficit fell by more than half, to $715 billion, by the time President Trump took office.
Under President Trump, that $715 billion deficit exploded to $1.1 trillion in a matter of months. The truth is, the federal budget deficit increased in each of Trump's first three years and is hitting monthly records this year.
Now let’s look at job growth.
We were told that President Trump’s deficits, which were primarily the result of corporate tax cuts, would supercharge the economy and create jobs. Did they work? The data says no. Under Trump, the economy lost more than six million jobs in total, including 257,000 factory jobs. Before the pandemic, job creation during the last three years of the Obama-Biden administration was 223,000 per month, during his first three years Trump only created 185,000 jobs per month.
A flattening job growth curve at a time of massive fiscal deficits is not the picture of economic health. It’s the picture of impending economic calamity. Even before COVID-19 caused the deficit to explode to $4 trillion and the economy to lose millions of jobs, we were headed toward a fiscal cliff.
Finally, let’s examine the stock market, which many Americans see as the ultimate measure of economic success.
The average annual increase in the S&P 500, a broad measure of market performance, was 14% during the Obama-Biden years. If the stock market manages to hold its current value--a big “if” considering we are borrowing trillions of dollars to hold it aloft--the average increase during Trump’s four years in office will only be 11%.
The New York Times reported, “despite all the hoopla about Mr. Trump’s undoubtedly pro-business policies, the stock market performance under Mr. Trump doesn’t match up well against Mr. Clinton or Mr. Obama.”
Simply put, Trump inherited a strong economy from the Obama-Biden administration, and just like everything he’s inherited, Trump squandered it.
President Trump gave us exploding and unsustainable deficits, slower job growth, and a stock market bubble bound to burst. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump botched the rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program and failed to provide guidance, delaying badly needed assistance for small businesses. And, in Texas, we’ve seen COVID-19 disproportionately affect minority communities and that includes minority-owned businesses from getting any help at all.
Perhaps that comes as unwelcome news to Republicans, but Americans have a very important decision to make this November, and they deserve a full accounting.