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Debunking the Myth of “The Greatest Economy Ever”

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/27/debunking-myth-greatest-economy-ever


Typo in the article. It says Trump Inherited a 20.2 billion dollar debt from Obama. it was in fact 20.6 trillion.

I would also add that the entire premise of a “strong economy” is based on numbers that related to GDP growth etc which are fundamentally flawed. GDP growth is strong after natural disasters as example. It can be premised on higher economic activity which is bad on ever more consumption and resource extraction.

The fact that many Americans did not have enough savings to pay a 400 dollar emergency expense was also the case in the Obama years. People are punished for saving money because interest rates are so low they actually lose wealth if kept in a bank.

Now it certainly true that Trumps boasts of the strongest economy ever are based on bombast and lies but the economy in the US and many Countries the world over have been in trouble for decades now which is why wealth inequality increases (it increased under Obama as well) and which is why the World over people protest the current system.

The numbers very often do not reflect the fact that even in times of growth, low unemployment and the like, wealth gains are not equitable. If all the new jobs are minimum wage jobs even as the 1 percent increases their profit margin off those workers from 30 percent to 50 percent , this does not mean the working class is doing any better. A low unemployment rate can mean more people working out of desperation at jobs they would not normally want.


The GOP has no need to actually create a “greatest economy ever” seeing how they having refined the most effective propaganda machine the world has ever seen…voter perception of a “greatest economy” is worth more to them than an actual “greatest economy”.


Your comment is very true! The system is what is wrong with the entire global economy. Greed and power have supplanted equitability and egalitarianism. Capitalism encourages and promotes greed and power. Without regulation and accountability, and yes, compassion and regard for others, we lose.

I know an extremely wealthy person, and he is big on philanthropy–but only on his own very esoteric terms. What he supports is not the poor but the fancies of the uber rich. He gives away lots of money, but it has to benefit him in the end.

I ask: Does extreme wealth create extreme selfishness in people?

But then, talk to people about Socialism or even Democratic Socialism, and wow, the tempers flare. Somehow, the American people think that the tough cowboy image of the self-made American pioneer is true! “Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” is a very damaging myth! But so many believe it. The poor have never been able to pull themselves up. Roosevelt’s New Deal is what helped many poor by creating a bigger middle class, and now, the middle class is being destroyed once again.

I’m afraid sometimes I think, it might be better if the whole economic system collapses and money disappears. Then, we all have to start out even.


Well he made the rich richer many more are now multi, multi billionaires.

BUT “During the last two years of the Obama administration, annual median household income increased $4,800. This is three times more than the $1,400 increase during the first two years of the Trump administration."

I’ve been hearing for a decade that wages have not increased since the 70’s for the average worker? Is that true or did household income raised by $4800? $1400? maybe a few earned more after the huge tax cuts for billions of dollars and I guess average workers made more annually because of tax cuts. Confusing!! and what to believe?
Now I know if he has promised during campaigning that a big infrastructure bill would put many back to work at decent wages and he also promised to bring jobs back from Mexico and abroad? Never happened.


Just as an example to further illustrate how numbers measuring economic growth are deceptive.

A friend observed on a visit to Mexico about 20 workers hard at work manually digging a large hole in the Earth. There were two backhoes sitting idle. When asked why the backhoes not used as it would make the work easier he was informed it was actually cheaper to pay those workers by the hour for their labor then to spend money on fuel , wear and tear and a more skilled laborer to run the backhoes.

Exploring further where did that supply of workers come from? Mexico since the time of Pancho Villa and those revolutions had a program where many millions of Mexicans were allowed to farm an acre of land on which they had their homes. They had enough land to raise enough to feed their families albeit not much more then that. Under NAFTA that system was dismantled and these holdings were bought up by the Investor class. Many millions of Mexicans were displaced and now had to find jobs.

How much did they earn at that job digging the hole? Just enough to feed their families but not much else.

Yet all of the measurements cited in the article above would reflect a “booming economy” and even “median household income” would be higher.


“what success he did have was largely bought by going into debt”.

Can you really call that success? I could put on a great show of success in my home if I spent like a drunken sailor on my family by rapidly running up the credit cards debt all the time pretending this was made possible by my business gonging like gangbusters, when it was actually limping along.

This is the persistent Republican MO, at least from the time of Reagan who took the biggest creditor government in the history of the world to the biggest debtor within 8 short years.

The idea is simple. Be the hero by tax cuts bequeathing a bid debt to the democrats, complain that democrats cause the debt by social spending that must be curtained.

Tax cuts results in the government borrowing their resultant revenue shortfall from the wealthy out of the money the wealthy saved by reason of the tax cuts. The end result is a huge debt for the country to the wealthy tax cut beneficiaries…

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Here’s the thing.

After eight years of Obama/Biden, voters asked themselves if they wanted to stay on the same path with Hillary, or opt for a blathering disruptor. They went with option B. So how great were things under Obama?

And c’mon, this article is deceptive.

Based on US Census Bureau data collected last year, in 2019 household income experienced the biggest rise in a single year in history: 6.8%.

The new data shows median household income increased by 9% in the first three years of the Trump administration, compared to only 5% under eight years of the Obama/Biden administration.

The poverty rate decreased to 10.5%, lifting 4.2 million people out of poverty, the best performance on that metric since 1966. 750,000 people dropped below the poverty rate under Obama/Biden.

No one here at CD likes Trump. But reality is reality. Trump did not control deficits, as promised. He did not raise GDP growth to 6%, as promised. Yet overall, on the economy, he was doing easily well enough to win re-election by a landslide. He’s still polling ahead of Biden on the economy. If it weren’t for the pandemic, he’d be cruising to a second term.

I’d say that extreme selfishness is required in order to amass extreme wealth.


I think it chicken and egg.

Extreme selfishness allows one to amass extreme wealth. In a given society this is seen as the means to success so people adapt to that system encouraging extreme selfishness as it becomes “learned behaviour” Genetic research shows that learned behaviour can be passed on to ones offspring. This is referred to as epigenetics.

Certain genetic traits have an off/on switch that changes based upon a given environment. The European Colonists genes saw the “selfish” switch turned on as contrasted to the tribal first nations peoples whose societies were based on cooperation having those genes turned off.

Consequently I believe that a society that has wealth extremes will lead to more “selfish” behaviour.

As a caveat this does not mean there a gene specifically for selfishness. It more a group of genes change that govern these types of traits change based upon an experienced environment.

The implications of this are far reaching. The message of The Beatles “All you need is Love” and have the words attributed to Jesus of “love thy neighbor as you love yourself” if adopted , would extend far beyond our own life times.


You’re ignoring point #3: that it was all bought on debt. Any moron with a credit card charged off to the next generation and passing out $5 billion every day, can fake the illusion of prosperity.

And, of course, you’re even more conspicuously ignoring point #5: that Trump, in fact, has wrecked the economy. More than 56 MILLION people have had to apply for unemployment. And those are just the ones that were eligible.

I ask you, How bad does it have to get???


From an accompanying article on Common Dreams

A starting point is to remember what Warren Buffet said: “There’s class warfare, alright, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning”. This is the battle.

And it is where we should place Obama’s contribution to the Uber-Gig economy.

Obama promised to put on his special shoes to stand alongside the workers on the picket lines, he never changed into them in two terms of office.



You are cherry picking data.

Obama came into power with the USA having just a little over 12 trillion in Debt. He left office with that debt at over 20 trillion. He cut the payroll tax just as Trump says he will do and extended Bush Era tax cuts. In other words he added about 8 trillion in debt and this without COVID. That amount was 78 percent of all debt accrued through all previous Presidencies. That number is higher then the 30 percent added you called stunning under Trump.

3.8 trillion of the Debt added by Trump is due to COVID. Every other Country on the Globe took on debt to manage COVID. The Democrats had the majority in Congress yet passed a bill that saw the bulk of COVID relief go to the 1 percent.

All Countries also saw a rise in unemployment due to COVID some more then others. The question that needs to be asked is would a Democrat in power as President through COVID translate to less job losses. You can not answer that. It speculation.

Denmark as example saw little in the way of Job Loss. Here in Canada we suffered job losses closer to that in the USA. Would Clinton have adopted a model of relief closer to Denmarks or closer to Canada? I suggest given her distaste for “Socialism” and her being a champion of wall street and the “free market” her response would have been no where near what Denmark did meaning you would have had close to the same number of jobs lost. This made evident by the package the Democrats helped pass in Congress.

This not to support the trump response. He an absolute disaster and a buffoon. It to point out if you are going to talk about added debt you and the like you can not simply ignore the Debt that Obama added and you cannot just state as a fact that Clinton as President would not have resulted in more debt or less job losses.

Here an article from 2016.


In other words the numbers of Americans unable to afford that 400$ emergency you allude to is really not changed a lot since the Obama years.


In “The Dispossessed”, Ursula LeGuin posits that societies with more than enough for everyone, will create large inequities, as a few horde everything, and the rest do without. But societies with almost enough for everyone will tend to share the little bit reasonably fairly.


Looks like you’ve really fallen for the Trump campaign’s propaganda. You may not realize

  1. that the way the AmericanCommunity Survey is conducted was changed making comparisons of the median household income question with dates before 2017 (see for example ~https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/09/us-median-household-income-not-significantly-different-from-2017.html

  2. that the specific increase you allude to in 2019 was almost certainly an aberration due to the way the survey was conducted during the pandemic. Basically, the survey first tries to reach everyone by mail - then they try by phone - then they try in person. Because of the pandemic, the data collected that had that big increase in median household income did not include the in-face interviews for hard to reach (generally poorer) households.

  3. that the numbers you are quoting for Obama’s time in office includes the huge decrease in the beginning due to Bush’s great recession. Obama’s second term (i.e. the time most comparable to Trump’s first term) saw a 9% increase in real dollars - and that is a fair comparison using the same methods. (see table H-6 at ~https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/historical-income-households.html)

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Democrats tax and spend. Republicans borrow and spend.

Only one of those methods involves the addition of interest payments.

“The Economy” is supposed to mean what, exactly? That’s a huge part of the problem here: the idea that, separate and remote from how people manage to scratch by, there’s a modern mytho-reality called The Economy. And for reading the inscrutable entrails explaining inner workings of incomprehensible global financial machinery we have the thoroughly modern astrologers (as Climate Scientist Kevin Anderson says) we call “economists.”

Wheels within esoteric wheels, spinning off into the most powerful secular religious dogma in mankind’s sad history, economization. In the academy, it continually gets more and more rarified, and utterly disconnected from planet Earth (like the DJIA). This historical moment is the most vivid illustration possible of the disconnect I’m talking about: reality and planet Earth on one side, dogma and confusion (and economics) on the other.

Because: 2020 is the historical moment when the world’s sole superpower was brought down – permanently – by a virus which devours “the precariat” at exponential, uncontrollable, empire-destroying rates. For instance: How could USA continue to maintain hundreds of foreign military bases, once other countries have had quite enough of our soldiers bringing infection to their (supposedly friendly) countries? An an Empire? Stick a fork in us, we’re done now. Brought down by a bad bug, along with auto-cannibalistic tyranny. There’s no recovery, “economic” or otherwise, from the crash we’re experiencing. “Economists,” trained to focus elsewhere, almost universally have no clue.

A brief history of USA COVID-19 cases (latest CDC numbers):

> WEEK    35 DAYS             CASES
>         ENDING          NEW       TOTAL
>   5.  01/25/2020           2           2
>  10.  02/29/2020          22          24
>  15.  04/04/2020     304,802     304,826
>  20.  05/09/2020     995,870   1,300,696
>  25.  06/13/2020     763,116   2,063,812
>  30.  07/18/2020   1,634,349   3,698,161
>  35.  08/22/2020   1,945,651   5,643,812
>  40.  09/26/2020   1,415,275   7,059,087
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Those shoes, along with Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the Vietnam war and Bush the Lesser’s WMDs, must be in a box somewhere in the White House attic.

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This is a rundown of the highest debt run up by US presidents from 1914


Now to be fair there anomalies in that two of the Presidents listed ran up debt during wartime and both of those were democrats (Roosevelt and Wilson) Overall if you take out those exceptions the Republicans tend to run up more debt (See Reagan praised as a St by the right but running up huge debts)

I recall a segment where Hannity was railing on the fiscal incompetence of Obama. He claimed Obama ran up more debt then all of the Presidents before him added together. He was not challenged on this in the segment. The fact is Obama ran up 74 percent of all Presidents combined before him. Now that is a large Number but both GW Bush and Reagan did exactly what Hannity claimed Obama did.

Were this truth revealed to hannity and he asked to defend it , his position would not change as he would claim reagan and Bush had “good reasons”


The differences in debt between Obama and Trump are significant. Obama inherited the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. When he took office 800,000 people were losing their jobs every month. 10,000 homes were going into foreclosure every day.

Trump claims to have built the greatest economy in the history of the world, yet has borrowed furiously. If it’s so great, why does he need all the debt? The answer, of course, is that it’s not so great and if he hadn’t been injecting billions of borrowed dollars every day into the economy, it would have collapsed long before it did.

Remember the Reuters quote: Dec 2019 was the worst wipeout in manufacturing employment in over a decade. And the economy turned down before the coronavirus collapse. Trump’s handling of that collapse was catastrophic as he knowingly lied to the public for months. That is an inextricable factor to how the economy collapsed.

You cannot discuss Trump’s management of the economy and only cherry pick the pre-virus phase. He has destroyed more trillions of dollars of wealth than any person in the history of the country.

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