An alternative comparison

BRYANT ROCKOFF

Williamsport

The writer of a May 19 letter, “A real newsworthy first four months,” attempted to create a comparison economically between former President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, and our current President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, with a seemingly total lack of disregard for historical context, bordering on the revisionist. I want to approach its arguments with facts that not only act as a steadfast counterpoint to said letter, but a reminder that “fake news” and “alternative facts” are a characteristic of both the right and left in this country.

The letter begins by sighting the 14 percent increase (it’s actually only 6.12 percent) in the Dow Jones as the first major barometer of economic strength honed by our new President in his first 100 days. However, the writer forgets that Republicans just one year ago were noting that stock valuation is not a valid indicator of our overall economy; and that such gains disproportionately advantage the wealthy (which is true).

The writer also sights the $100 billion decrease in the national debt during President Trump’s first 100 days (versus President Obama’s $629 billion increase) as a positive economic indicator for Mr. Trump, but neglects to mention that a slight decrease and/or stagnation in the national debt is common during the first months of a new year due to the increased tax collections and government income made during them.

This is not to say a reduction in the debt isn’t worth celebrating, but that no expert expects such a trend to continue in the long term.

Nonetheless, the writer’s most glaring omission is his/her refusal to reference the recession, and war, that, upon taking office, President Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor President Bush. Although there is a valid argument to be had over what Administrations, businessmen, and politicians should be held accountable for the collapse of the housing market and subsequent economic downturn, it is a fact that not only did Barack Obama face an economy in free fall upon entering the Oval Office, but a growing lack of well paying jobs around the country was exacerbating the pain many in the middle class were already feeling.

Yet the writer seems inclined to suggest to readers that the 3 million jobs lost during Obama’s first 100 days is a valid comparison to Donald Trump’s 738,000 jobs created. This is not only incorrect in its interpretation of history, but it also fails to note that President Obama’s full tenure decreased the unemployment rate from 10 percent (at the peak of the recession) to 4.7 percent, and that almost all of that decrease came in the form of full time employment. In fact, we are quickly approaching “full employment” as a country in economic terms; though, this is not say there is not continued work to be done, including ensuring that those that left the labor force during the recession can continue to make their ways back in.

The recession also extends to that $629 billion debt increase seen during President Obama’s first 100 days, which included hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending (meant to counteract the effects of the recession through major infrastructure projects and reinvestment), and the 6-8 percent decrease in the stock market averages experienced during Obama’s initial weeks in office.

It’s also worth noting that the stimulus package was one of three major pieces of legislation Barack Obama signed into law within his first 100 days, including the fair pay act and the auto bailout bill. President Trump’s pieces of major legislation currently sits at zero. Republicans apparently never actually considered what repealing Obamacare would mean legislatively, though they were happy to scream “Repeal!” for six years.

Moreover, the lack of passage of any piece of economic legislation since President Trump’s entry into office means that his policies have had a net zero impact on our economic standing. Though an argument can be made that Wall Street’s optimistic outlook towards future expansionary policies being enacted by a new administration can theoretically help to spur growth, there can be no doubt that we are still very much living in Obama’s economy. We will be waiting through at least the rest of 2017, and much of 2018, before we begin to see any changes that have yet to be enacted by our new President and Congress affect the broader economy.

Economics, after all, is a field in which “patience is a virtue” is practically its defining trait.

Thus, returning to the writer’s previous argument, a better marker may be that of President Obama’s first 100 days of his second term in office; during which the DJIA received an 8.72 percent boost, while the Standard and Poor received a 7.51 percent boost (versus Mr. Trump’s 5.32 percent). Another example may be during the first month of 2014, in which the national debt decreased by a whopping $102 billion, only to return shortly there after.

And if we are really to compare numbers, President Obama’s approval rating sat a 61 percent at this time during his presidency, while Mr. Trump sits at an average of 38 percent, which is three points lower than President Obama’s lowest approval during his Presidency’s entirety.

Let me be clear: one cannot argue that President Obama was a perfect President; like any President before him, he made many mistakes, many of them foreign policy related. Yet, in his first 100 days in office, the biggest scandal he faced was the mustard he liked to put on his sandwiches (Grey Poupon, which is delicious by the way). If you’re like me, it’s hard to not long for those days, since our current President’s White House is attempting to contain the fallout from at least five scandals: Obama’s “wiretap” of which he has no evidence, the Michael Flynn scandal, the officially recognized Russian investigation, the subsequent firing of the man leading said investigation and the communications dumpster fire that was its roll out, and his leaking of code-word classified intelligence to the Russians.

(Also, Donald, please stop tweeting. It’s just a national embarrassment at this point.)

Finally, the writer ends their piece noting that as a former Arizonian, President Trump should “build the wall.” It’s worth noting that in the latest Data Orbital/Pheonix New Times poll, 54 percent of Arizonians said that “definitely should not” happen.

If the writer was still an Arizonian, he/she may have read that in their local paper, and not on the website Blasting News, in which you can find nearly all of the inaccurate statistics and alternative facts cited in “A comparison.”

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