Trump Had No Use for Economic Numbers Until He Started a Trade War with Canada

Donald Trump, apparently tired of lying about everything else, decided to go after U.S. economic growth in 2016, claiming via Twitter that that cause is “trade deficits,” no doubt a defense of his incredibly reckless trade war with Canada.

On Friday, the Commerce Department said that the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in 2016. This morning, those numbers Trump has repeatedly mocked both during his campaign and since becoming president, suddenly became critical because of his, if you’ll pardon the expression, “trumped” up trade war with Canada.

Lou Dobbs, of course, was quick to hail Trump’s tweet:

However, Toronto Star fact checker Daniel Dale was on the ball and caught it right away, and Trump’s tweet certainly raised his eyebrows:

In fact, during the last quarter of 2016, the economy grew at a rate of 1.9 percent after growing 2.6 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2014. And the Bureau of Economic Analysis says the “Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.”

Donald Trump claimed he would introduce America to steady 4 percent economic growth, a fantasy according to most economists. But on the whole, Trump has ridiculed numbers, and they only seem to suddenly matter when they’re convenient to some point or another.

Numbers don’t work that way. They always matter. Set aside for a moment the essential hypocrisy of Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric.

Trump’s attempt to delegitimize all the many numbers that are unfavorable to him, and to latch on to what few help him, is doomed to failure because numbers always matter, whether you “believe in them” or not.

Trump makes a big deal of low economic growth in 2016 but that economic growth was growing in the last 3 months of the Obama presidency and you can be sure if it had been higher he would have just as gladly taken credit for it rather than condemning it, just as he has taken credit for other of Obama’s economic achievements.