In 2016, then-President Barack Obama, desperately attempting to defend his failed economic policies responsible for stalling America after its worst recession since the Great Depression, pleaded with his audience for their understanding. The message: It’s harder than it looks. His shock at the audacity of then-candidate Trump’s promise of swift and consistent economic growth evident when he posed one final question to the confident newcomer: “What magic wand do you have?”
President Obama, in this defining moment, elaborately illustrated the shortage of fundamental economic understanding that plagued his presidency. To be fair, Obama is not to blame for the financial crisis of 2007, the brunt of which he inherited, but his anti-business agenda filibustered our resilient economy’s best efforts to recover. When the framework of our Constitution mercifully exiled Obama and his policies from the highest office, he lashed out at the man promising to undo his legacy.
In a moment of insecurity, the former president wondered aloud what secret weapon Donald Trump could possibly have that he didn’t.
President Trump does, indeed, have a magic wand. It’s actually a big one, in case you haven’t heard,
In all seriousness, the results of Trump’s economic policies have already surpassed many of the highest financial benchmarks the Obama administration had to boast. Trump’s groundbreaking strategy was put best by Stephen Miller:
“[L]ook at all the things Obama has done on the economy over the past eight years, and then do just the opposite.”
Obama inherited a mess and promptly went to work, kicking our wounded economy while it was down with punishing regulations and arduous taxes designed to thwart the major corporations that fuel our financial system and provide jobs for working-class Americans.
Stephen Moore of The New York Post explains:
“Obama’s economic experiment of Keynesian economics on steroids was a profound disappointment. It began with the $830 billion stimulus plan, and then cash-for-clunkers, bailouts, ObamaCare, tax hikes on the rich, minimum-wage hikes and a wave of financial and economic regulations. All told, the national debt nearly doubled in eight years.”
The Obama legacy, from Dodd-Frank to the Paris Agreement, can be categorized as a slew of steep anti-business regulations, poor trade deals and climate accords that punished American workers to the point that our economy slipped into an uncompetitive comatose state.
President Trump, heeding the advice of Stephen Miller, immediately went to work fulfilling his promises to roll back Obama-era regulation, starting with the Affordable Care Act. Having failed to repeal and replace the ACA, Trump slashed mandates and provided health insurance alternatives. He attacked Obama’s costly environmental regulations by arranging to repeal the Clean Power Plan, pulling the U.S. from the Paris Agreement effective in 2019 and reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Trump withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iran nuclear deal, the latter of which granted our enemy access to an estimated $56 billion. All of these measures served to boost the stock market, GDP growth and consumer confidence, indicating an optimistic outlook for the future under President Trump.
“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 no answer to it,” Obama exclaimed in that same speech. I think the answer is pretty evident. Not only did Trump resurrect those jobs, but he did it by rolling back the policies of his perplexed predecessor, one at a time.
In just America’s first year under Trump, the Dow Jones rose 31 percent, adding $5.5 trillion to total stock market wealth. Trump’s economy boasted over 2 million new jobs and an unemployment rate that fell to 4.1 percent. Trump provided $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, prompting over 160 companies, including Apple, Disney and Wal-Mart, to reward employees with special incentives and an increase in pay.
Was President Obama dealt a poor hand when he inherited a country on the verge of a massive recession? Obviously. But, that’s no excuse for the fact that we stalled for eight years, as regulation upon regulation prevented our resilient economy from recovering. It could have been worse if Obama had not taken the reins. But as we know now, it most certainly could have been better.
So, was it a magic wand or the implementation of business friendly tax cuts and deregulation that ultimately zapped America into economic prosperity?
That’s for you to decide.
Kevin Catapano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.