President Trump was very excited about what he considered some good economic numbers that were released last Friday. Specifically, he was happy with the second-quarter growth rate of real GDP (Gross Domestic Product). He was so happy when he talked about it in his Cabinet meeting on Monday, when he wasn't busy scaring our pants off:
“We have a GDP, on Friday — it got very little mention, although I guess in the business areas it did. But it got, I think, very little mention. 2.6 is a number that nobody thought they’d see for a long period of time. Remember, I was saying we will hit three at some point in the not-too-distant future, and everybody smiled and they laughed and they thought we’d be at one. And 2.6 is an unbelievable number, announced on Friday.”
He's right! Why, we haven't seen real GDP growth that high since ... all the way back in the third quarter of 2016, when it hit 2.8 percent.
The second quarter of 2017 is really still Obama's economy, since no Trump policies would have had a measurable effect on it in the short time he had been in office. But if Trump wants credit for it, he should also acknowledge that during the campaign, he mocked the low GDP growth rate, which under Obama never had a yearly average of higher than 2.6 percent. Which of course is the quarterly number Trump was bragging about on Monday.
Also, if he wants credit, why isn't the GDP growth rate the robust 3 percent he promised during the campaign? Considering the low first-quarter number for 2017 — a meager 1.2 percent — he's going to have to really get cracking if he wants to boost the average for the year above 3. (For the record, business forecast publisher Kiplinger doesn't think he'll even get close.)
All of this just underscores how silly it is to judge a presidency's economic success on one number. But Trump had made it a centerpiece of his argument against Obama during the campaign.
Buy the ticket, take the ride, Mr. President.