Jobs report out this morning. Unemployment is down to 4.7% or something. Now, we had a warm winter and have cheap gas… so you account for that, then maybe after you can discern a ‘Trump effect’ that anticipates pro-business policy, and that gooses employment. Not like I’d actually give Trump credit for that, though.
Chait pooh-poohs the notion of the ‘slow growth Obama years’ and is concerned Trump is going to ride an economic boom on a keel Obama laid.
I quibble with this. Thing is, to say Obama’s economic policy succeeded and is yet to bloom even more is to say Obama had an economic policy. One that say could be distinguished from status quo economics by some implementation of Democrat / progressive values.
There wasn’t anything like that.
He/they stewarded a recovery from the 2008 crisis… by backstopping the bad mortgage debt for the banks. Safe to say that probably would have happened under a Republican \ John McCain.
We had a stimulus package that kept govt spending steady amidst a precipitous revenue drop. Safe to say that probably would have happened under a Republican \ John McCain.
There were some tax hikes on high earners. Some tax cuts (I think I probably pay less than I would have under GWB tax rates, as a moderately affluent earner with dependents…). Nothing substantial. The Democrats pre-eminent platform plank of wealth inequality was not addressed at all.
The alternate history of what would have occurred under the GOP is probably that we would have rode it out with Hoover-ite thrift, let the bad debt and budget shortfalls hamstring whoever got stuck with them…. No, would not have happened. There was only one path, and it would have been the same one Obama took.
I’m painting a pretty deterministic picture here, but it’s not like it was all pre-ordained. Obama could have pursued some socialistic / populistic solutions, could have gone contrarian, could have gone counter-intuitive, but he didn’t. You get back to that notion of stewardship…. What they choose to do reflected a wisdom, and they deserve credit for not being too clever by half or crazy.
But it’s to say, it was all stuff that is within the 40 yard lines of American economic thought… and there is no Obama economic policy. I, and Chait for sure, can articulate all the ways Obama was different and progressive on climate and law and foreign policy and health ins…. Can’t be done with Obama domestic economic policy, there is nothing discernible. He let the fed run the economy in a status quo manner. This low-low rate regime has been in place since 9/11.
And that’s fine. Normative US economics work pretty well., and Trump wouldn’t be unwise to keep riding this wave / horse we’re on. If he did, and it worked, he’d deserve credit, that ambiguous presidential credit for a good economy. If he changes stuff in ways that constitute a reform, he’ll deserve credit or change for that.