In a pair of inaccurate tweets, President Donald Trump criticized former President Barack Obama because he rightfully took partial credit for our post-recession economic recovery. However, in doing so, Donald Trump got a lot of things wrong:
- Trump misquoted Obama when he claimed that the former president said, “President Trump would need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP.” In a June 2016 town hall, Obama said Trump would need a “magic wand” to bring back “some of those jobs of the past,” such as manufacturing jobs.
- Trump wrongly tweeted that the “GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” It has actually happened dozens of times.
The ‘Magic Wand’ lie
The current president and former president have traded some words lately regarding who gets credit for the economic recovery since 2008. It started when Barack Obama, in remarks he made on Sept. 7 in Illinois, stated, “let’s just remember when this recovery started.”
“I mean I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers, and suddenly Republicans are saying it’s a miracle,” said Obama. “I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.”
3 days later, Trump tweeted a false quote that he claimed a very skeptical Obama made regarding the growth in the GDP.
That particular quote was a lie invented by Donald Trump.
However, Obama did use the term “magic wand” during a “PBS NewsHour” town hall on June 1, 2016 in Indiana. But former President Obama was referring to Donald Trump’s promise to get back “some of those jobs from the past.” Instead, Obama explained, the next president must focus on job training for the “jobs that are coming in now.”
Obama, June 1, 2016: Now, the good news is that there are entire new industries that are starting to pop up and you’re actually seeing some manufacturers coming back to the United States because they’re starting to realize, “You know what? Energy prices are lower here, workers are better here, this is our biggest market. And so even though we off-shored and went someplace else before, now it turns out we’re better off going ahead and manufacturing here.”
But for those folks who have lost their job right now because a plant went down the Mexico, that isn’t going to make you feel better. And so what we have to do is to make sure that folks are trained for the jobs that are coming in now because some of those jobs of the past are just not going to come back, and when somebody says, like the person you just mentioned who I’m not going to advertise for, that he’s going to bring all these jobs back, well how exactly are you going to do that? What are you going to do?
There’s — there’s no answer to it. He just says, “Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.” Well, how — what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer.
Trump’s 100-Year Lie
In a different tweet from the same day, Donald Trump also lied, “The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” The White House later acknowledged the error, and said the president should have said it hasn’t happened in 10 years. (The exact number of years is 12.)
The lying president’s tweet was noticed by Justin Wolfers, an economics and public policy professor at the University of Michigan, and he did an analysis and discovered that while the crappy president’s figures for GDP and unemployment rate were correct, the president was very wrong in claiming that it’s the first time in 100 years that the quarterly GDP growth rate was higher than our unemployment rate.
In two tweets, Justin Wolfers listed the 62 times it happened since 1948, most recently during the first quarter in 2006. For good measure, Mr. Wolfers included a graph that superimposed the unemployment rate on top of the quarterly GDP.
No matter what the number, Wolfers tweeted, the entire exercise of comparing the levels of unemployment with the growth rates for GDP is foolish.
“The problem is that he’s comparing two things that are different,” said Wolfers. “The temperature in Fahrenheit is larger today than my shoe size, but that doesn’t make it warm.”