Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement was the corporate-tax cut he signed in 2017. Republicans said it would grow the economy by up to 6 percent, stimulate business investment, and pay for itself.
None of those promises have come to pass. GDP growth has declined to less than 2 percent according to the latest report, released yesterday. Business investment has now declined for two straight quarters, dragging down economic growth. And the federal deficit exceeds $1 trillion.
These shortcomings alone might be enough to embolden Democrats to fight Trump on economic grounds just one year from a crucial 2020 election. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
Trump swept into office pledging to restore the U.S. economy to the good old days of brawny work and global swagger. He had a vision of the United States where the exports would be bigger, the trade deals would be better, and “forgotten” Americans working in declining sectors like coal mining would be restored to their rightful place at the center of the economy. This bold strategy hinged on the theory that trade wars were “good, and easy to win.”
None of those promises have come to pass, either. Let’s go through them one by one. The U.S. manufacturing sector is practically in a recession. The ISM index, a key measure of that industry’s health, registered its lowest number in 10 years. Real exports of goods and services have declined in the past year, after peaking in 2018. Mining jobs have declined in the past 12 months, too. Finally, hovering in the background behind declining investment, sputtering manufacturing, and wilting exports is the trade war with China, which has proved neither “good” nor “easy” for American businesses.