President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, Alex Acosta, is facing calls to resign because of his role in negotiating a lenient 2008 plea deal for the financier Jeffrey Epstein, now charged with child sex trafficking by federal authorities in New York.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a spate of 2020 candidates, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have all insisted that Acosta—until now a relatively uncontroversial, low-drama, and low-key Trump appointee, even given all the questions about the Epstein deal—step down. But Trump has thus far resisted those calls, telling reporters that the deal happened in the past, that he feels bad for Acosta, and that the former prosecutor “has been just an excellent secretary of labor. He’s done, just, a fantastic job. Now part of it is our economy is so good, our unemployment numbers are at record lows.”
Leaving aside the question—and the question of how this is even a question—of whether being a “fantastic” high-level government official should give someone cover for letting a sexual predator continue to circulate in society, has Acosta really been so fantastic?
It is true that the economy is good and unemployment is low, as Trump said. By any number of measures, the economy is doing as well as it has since the late 1990s. But Acosta, and Trump, have little to do with it. This administration inherited an excellent, stable economy from Barack Obama. Trump’s policies have done little to change trends, for better or for worse. There has been no inflection point.