Trump won’t offer usual economic projections. Probably because it’s hard to brag about disaster
In a story they broke this morning, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post report that the Trump regime has decided it will not deliver economic projections in the traditional “mid-session review” of the budget this summer. Budget experts the reporters interviewed said they didn’t know of any time in the past half century when an administration has chosen not to provide such forecasts in the review.
Two unnamed White House officials said it was decided to opt out of providing the projections because the pandemic is causing extreme volatility in the U.S. economy, which interferes with analysts’ ability for adequately modeling economic trends. This is certainly true, but given that Donald Trump is at the helm, the move is more likely being taken because talking about a profoundly damaged economy with double-digit unemployment is not the upbeat message he wants to present shortly before the November election.
Critics, not all of them liberals, say the White House should provide the projections despite the uncertainties of the pandemic and economic shutdown in response to it. Stein tweeted that a senior official told him, “It is foolish to demand such a forecast simply because that is business as usual, particularly when that forecast may mislead the public.” With his history, misleading is likely what Trump has in mind for election purposes, and honest if dire economic projections could be an obstacle to that.
A senior official said there is no statutory requirement for including such projections in the mid-session reviews.
Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told the reporters: “There is no logistical reason they couldn’t do it. It seems more likely they do not want to bring attention to the high level of unemployment they’d have to project for this year, and into next year.” Said Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Joe Biden when he was vice president, “They’re never going to address the problems if they put these kinds of blinders on. Managing the economy means publishing credible forecasts.”
Trump has repeatedly taken credit for the upward trend of the pre-pandemic economy, falsely claiming that he inherited a “disaster” from President Barack Obama when it was Obama who was heir to the disaster left him by President George W. Bush. While the unemployment rate fell slowly for several years in the wake of the Great Recession, jobs did ultimately return and by the time Trump lied the oath at his inauguration, the acute impacts of that massive downturn were mostly healed, though the chronic economic problems predating the recession remain with us.
Trump has bragged that the U.S. economy is the best it’s ever been, something most analysts reject, although Lou Dobbs can always be counted on to do his usual bootlicking in this matter.
The economy will roar back as the reopening moves ahead, Trump keeps telling Americans. Son-in-law Jared Kushner says it will be “really rocking again” come July. The second half of the year will be wall-to-wall prosperity seems to be the message. If they truly believed their own cheerleading, they would be proud to include economic projections in the mid-session review. But that apparently would interfere with their gaslighting plans.
(Crossposted with DailyKos. Image CC by DonkeyHotey on Flickr.)