“Here’s our prediction: Trump will leave office with a higher deficit and a higher unemployment rate than he inherited from Barack Obama. And his toxic rhetoric will leave the country …
“Here’s our prediction: Trump will leave office with a higher deficit and a higher unemployment rate than he inherited from Barack Obama. And his toxic rhetoric will leave the country more divided than ever before.”
Timberjay editorial, Oct. 31, 2018
Almost exactly two years ago today, this newspaper made a prediction that irritated some supporters of our current President. Yet every single one of the predictions we made that day has come true— in spades.
It’s easy to forget that when Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the federal deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 of that year was a comparatively paltry $587 billion. Under Trump, the 2020 fiscal year ended last month with a record deficit of $3.1 trillion, an increase of more than 500 percent over the numbers he inherited from President Obama.
Obama left office with an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent after inheriting a collapsing financial system from his predecessor. The September 2020 jobless rate, the last number we’ll know before the election next Tuesday, was 7.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In fairness, some of this is clearly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the 2020 deficit was forecast to reach $1 trillion even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, or nearly double the deficit that Trump inherited. There is no denying that Trump blew up the deficit.
What’s more— like it or not— presidents are routinely tested by any number of crises. President Obama faced the Great Recession and took the steps necessary to halt the collapse and rebuild the economy. President Trump and Congress made a similar effort in an early response to the coronavirus, which did boost the economy. But the administration’s failure to follow up with a second stimulus package has put that recovery, and any further improvement in employment numbers, on shaky ground. Like it or not, Trump owns the current unemployment rate.
Furthermore, Trump’s failure to effectively respond to the public health challenge posed by the pandemic has slowed the recovery as well. Other countries are doing better economically because they did better at controlling the spread of COVID-19. In the U.S., the virus it is now rampant, particularly here in the Upper Midwest, which has become the global epicenter of the disease. Trump’s constant dismissals of sound public health measures are largely responsible for this worsening crisis.
But our current woes aren’t all attributable to the pandemic. Candidate Trump made much of the U.S. trade deficit and promised that his supposed skill as a negotiator would allow him to rewrite trade deals to bring jobs back to America. It never happened. China has never signed the new trade deal Trump kept touting. All Trump accomplished was wiping out U.S. farm exports, leaving the agriculture sector on the dole like never before. The numbers tell the story. President Trump’s trade deficit has been larger in all four years of his current administration than it was at any time under President Obama.
And Trump, if he leaves office, will do so with fewer Americans having access to affordable health insurance. He has, at the same time, set the stage to deny affordable health coverage to another 25 million Americans, depending on the outcome of an upcoming Supreme Court decision.
And no one can deny that President Trump has left this country more divided than ever before. He peddles conspiracy theories, makes openly racist appeals, glorifies violence and cruelty, teargasses peaceful protesters, and has done more to undermine our system of democratic rule than anyone in American history. He has turned the entire executive branch of our federal government into a campaign committee, utilizing officials who are, by law, supposed to remain above the political fray, as little more than campaign operatives. He even turned the White House into a campaign prop.
Meanwhile, he has repeatedly kowtowed to the world’s worst dictators and directed millions of federal tax dollars and campaign contributions directly into his own pocket. He sent his children and other minions across the globe to make deals with other governments while he leveraged their efforts through the mechanisms of U.S. foreign policy for profit and political advantage. He promised to drain the swamp. Instead, he nestled right down in the middle of it, like Jabba the Hutt.
We recognize that the president still has some supporters in our region. We also believe that they will, over time, come to realize the degree to which they were misled by a con— who promised to Make American Great Again, but who ultimately debased this country and the presidency itself like no one before him. History will ultimately write the story of our 45th president. It will not be kind.