No matter his haughty and belligerent Twitter rants, President Donald Trump’s supposed economic utopia isn’t really materializing. New numbers have come out for economic growth in 2018 — and the previous estimate has been revised significantly downward, from a past high of 3.1 percent to a currently calculated growth rate of just 2.5 percent when looking at the size of the economy compared to the previous year. According to the new numbers, in the fourth quarter of 2018, the economy grew at just 1.1 percent. Trump had sought an annual growth rate for the nation’s gross domestic product or GDP that was in the range of 3 percent or higher — but it looks like he’s going to have to wait for that, if it ever comes during his time in office at all.
The revisions to the numbers from the national Bureau of Economic Analysis (a federal government office) come as more data about how much businesses actually spent in 2018 has been tabulated. Total spending was less than previously believed on both software and buildings, among other points. The slowdown — the newly calculated rate for 2018 is actually lower than the also newly calculated 2.8 percent 2017 rate — comes as Trump continues to ramp up his globe-spanning trade wars, imposing punitive tariffs at will that threaten not just foreign business but the many, many American businesses that do any kind of globalized work — which in 2019 is a lot, it should go without saying.
Trump has consistently lied about the true nature of his import taxes, which he has imposed in some kind of halfhearted attempt to protect American business from foreign intrusion. He has claimed that the income from these taxes is coming from foreign interests — but it’s not. It’s coming from the Americans trying to do the importing, and even if the president and his team don’t acknowledge it, the tariffs’ persistence sinks their argument that they’re running some kind of low-tax, pro-middle class agenda.
As for where else we’re going from here — according to the same new government numbers, economic growth in the second quarter of this calendar year was just 2.1 percent, although it was a little higher in the first at 3.1 percent, which could keep the eventual yearly average up.
Although all of these numbers have consistently been in line with recent trends, and there’s still no 3 percent or higher annual GDP growth in sight — Trump has been quick to proclaim his supposed greatness for the United States economy. Just this Friday, he tweeted that he’s enacted the “greatest Economy in U.S. history,” which it’s really not that hard to perceive that he definitely has not done. Still, Trump said this supposed wonderland of money will propel him to victory in the 2020 presidential election, even as massive amounts of poll numbers show possible general election challengers posed to beat him by large margins.
As it turns out, enacting a policy agenda that favors the rich through means like tax cuts and leaves American industry hanging doesn’t exactly lay out an easy path to four more years in the White House. At this point, long lines of industry interests have explicitly spoken out against his tariff plans, among other issues.
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