George W. Bush used to say a lot of smart things about the economy. No, not that time he referred to "tarriers and bariffs." Times like these:
"When your economy is kind of ooching along, it's important to let people have more of their own money."
"The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend. For the sake of American workers, let's pass a stimulus package."
Presidents get too much blame — and sometimes, too much credit — for the state of the economy. But as Bush used to say, the president can certainly make sure that the climate for growth and success in business is there. And the president sets the mood of the country (remember when Jimmy Carter called Americans lazy? Not good).
Enter President Trump. Even before he took office, the economy began rising. After he was elected in November 2016, businesses across the country suddenly became very optimistic about the future. Trump had vowed to slash the tax rates on business — something he's now done. And he cut taxes for all Americans. Many will see more cash in their paychecks starting this month.
Unemployment is at a 17-year low (the rate hit record lows for black Americans), businesses are booming, the economy is growing at a strong pace quarter after quarter, and confidence across the board is sky high.
But to the Associated Press, this is still Barack Obama's economy — even one year into Trump's presidency.
"Trump claims credit for what is still mostly Obama's economy," wrote the AP.
The AP decided to write a story about how things are not all that good, and how — if they are — it's all because of Obama.
But in the year since Trump's inauguration, most analysts tend to agree on this: The economy remains essentially the same sturdy one he inherited from Barack Obama.
Growth has picked up, but it's not yet clear if it can sustain a faster expansion. Hiring and wage growth actually slowed slightly from Obama's last year in office. Consumers and businesses are much more optimistic, but their spending has yet to move meaningfully higher.
"I don't see any noticeable break over the past year," said Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. "We tend to overstate the degree to which the president has the ability to control the economy."
But according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, two-thirds of American voters say the economy is "excellent" or "good" — the highest rating since the poll started asking about the economy in 2001.
Could the AP be basing its report on this? "Yet 49 percent of respondents credited Obama for the economy's health, compared with 40 percent who credited Trump." Hmm. Forty-nine percent of people say Obama deserves the credit. Could that be the same half of the country that voted for him, and for Hillary Clinton in 2016?
On the flip side, the AP offered this:
Some of that growth may reflect greater spending by consumers or businesses in anticipation of tax cuts. But most economists expect it will take time for Trump's deregulatory and tax policies to have their full effect.
There's no question that businesses and consumers are more optimistic. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index jumped to a 17-year high in November before slipping a bit last month. ...
American companies have stepped up their investments in machinery, software, and office towers this year after sluggish spending in 2015 and 2016. Such spending increased about 6.2 percent at an annual rate in the first nine months of the year.
And the wire agency says this is just the beginning.
"Many economists expect growth to perk up in 2018, with the impact of tax cuts and the Trump administration's deregulatory efforts spurring corporate investment and consumer spending. So far, 15 regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration have been overturned by Congress. The administration has put dozens of others on hold."
But don't look for the mainstream media to give Trump much credit — another thing Bush saw in his time in office.
"I've watched politics for years," Bush said. "Republicans rarely get credit for the good things that happen in the economy during their watch. Democrats always get more credit than they deserve. They are just better at political discourse that we are."
And they have the liberal media in the palm of their hands, to boot.