By Bob Friedrich
As an accountant and student of economics at CUNY years ago, I was trained to view and measure the economy through an objectives prism and not base it on the popularity of a president or, in the case of Trump, his social tweeting skills.
That’s not to say there isn’t a real connection between the economy and what politicians do. Economic performance should be measured objectively, not emotionally.
In a recent On Point column I wrote that the Trump tax cuts will provide significant tax reductions to most New Yorkers. That was in stark contrast to what was being pedaled by partisan politicians. The tax plan was “Armageddon,” we were told, and “Republicans would rue the day they voted for it.”
Most analysts now concede that what I had written is true, and only high earners in heavily taxed states like New York would pay more. The fact is many wage earners have already seen significant increases in their net take home pay.
Even though most middle-class taxpayers in Queens will see significant tax relief, all of their congressional representatives voted against it. Calling bonuses and tax reductions “crumbs” is demagoguery of the worst kind. So, let’s cut through the partisan hyperbole and media bias and distinguish between objective reality and emotional rhetoric.
There has always been a direct connection between economic performance and the economic policies of a presidential administration. That is why we generally credit an economy’s performance to the president serving at the time. During the eight years of the previous administration, the economy struggled to grow at 2 percent and for the first time in any presidential term it never hit an annual rate of 3 percent GDP growth, according to CNN Money based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Trump critics cite the reason for eight years of flat GDP grow as due to the economic meltdown that the Bush administration handed over to Obama. These critics credit Obama’s policies for belatedly providing the dramatic economic growth of the past year.
Trump supporters call that wishful thinking, noting how Trump has systematically unwound almost every Obama business policy and has spent the last year completely dismantling the Obama-era regulatory framework. They cite this unprecedented shredding of business-choking regulations as fueling the economic turnaround that has brought unemployment among all segments of the population to its lowest levels on record and the consumer confidence index rising to levels unseen in decades.
GDP, unemployment and labor participation rates are well-established measures of economic performance. Anyone who views economic performance through an objective lens and not an emotional one sees a booming economy that is reacting to the Trump economic plan.
The Trump tax cuts have suddenly made U.S. companies competitive in a global marketplace. Manufacturing jobs by the thousands are coming back as plants re-open and new ones are planned.
Apple announced that it will be repatriating billions of dollars and creating thousands of jobs here in the United States over the next few years. It wasn’t long ago that we were told manufacturing jobs would never come back.
Was the talk of a “new normal” a lie, or did it reflect economic policies that we now can see in real-time choked the lifeblood of an economy by creating an economic climate antithetical to job growth?
We were told that manufacturing jobs of the past would never return as America’s “new” service-oriented economy was the future. But for thousands of Midwest and rust-belt families who witnessed the crushing collapse of their manufacturing and mining jobs, it was a bone-chilling reminder that a lifetime career of high-paying jobs that fed and educated their families was over.
To add insult to injury, they were told not to worry because they could easily be retrained as if the loss of their generational work was merely a bump in the road that federal bureaucrats and funding from Washington could ameliorate with a beltway crafted job training program.
When you live in an urban bubble, this is how you view the world. A divide that is more defined by regional differences than racial ones. These differences will only be bridged when as a nation, we begin to listen to each other rather than shouting past each other.
Bob Friedrich is President of Glen Oaks Village, a Civic Leader and former City Council Candidate.