I suppose I can’t get too excited about Donald Trump’s base-whumping declaration to the Muslim princes and potentates yesterday that there is no war of civilizations. We still can’t trust anything Trump says, as evinced by this paragraph from his Saudi speech:
For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies — many of whom are here today [Donald Trump, speech to leaders of 50+ Muslim countries, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as transcribed by CNN, 2017.05.21].
Creating jobs? Actually, in the only organization over which Trump currently has direct control over job creation, the federal government, Trump has imposed a hiring freeze and shed 8,400 jobs. Across the economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly net changes in employment in 2017, January through April, of 216,000, 232,000, 79,000, and 211,000. If we give Trump credit for President Obama’s chunk of January to make up for not having data for May yet, those four figures add up to 738,000, less than three quarters of a millions. The average monthly net change in jobs in 2017 is 185,000, which is lower than the average monthly net change in jobs in every year of President Obama’s second term.
The $3 trillion in new value recycles a not-really-State of the Union speech line about the rising stock market. Funny he sticks with that line, because since he said it, the market is actually down from its March 1 peak. But Trump will need all that paper value to paper over the trillions in value (and 2.6 million jobs!) that repealing the Affordable Care Act could kill. And if stock market bubbles are our gauge for success, then Trump could really boost the market by ending the turmoil in Washington by resigning so Mike Pence could focus on passing the tax reform Wall Street is banking on.
In touting “record investments in our military,” Trump mistakes wishes for horses:
He’s getting ahead of developments on military spending, with no budget passed. He also not proposing a record increase in military spending as his remarks might imply.
The 10 percent increase he called for in his March budget outline has been exceeded three times in recent history – the base military budget went up by 14.3 percent, in 2002, 11.3 percent in 2003 and 10.9 percent in 2008, according to the Pentagon. Looked at another way and deeper into history, military spending consumed 43 percent of the economy in 1944, during World War II, and 15 percent in 1952, during the Korean War. It was 3.3 percent in 2015, says the World Bank [Calvin Woodward and Christopher S. Rugaber, “AP Fact Check: Trump Exaggerates Record While Abroad,” AP via Hudson Valley News 12, 2017.05.22].
We can’t believe Trump on jobs, the economy, or the military. There may be no war of civilizations, but Trump continues his war on facts.