Donald Trump loves to take credit for other people’s work.
He claimed he wrote a book he didn’t write, has frequently slapped his name on shoddy products he had little or nothing to do with, and even pretended to make the final decisions about whom to fire on Celebrity Apprentice. (Think about that. A president who claims to hate “fake news” had a reality show where he fake-fired fake employees who underwent a fake vetting process — and there was yet another layer of hidden fakery on top of it all.)
Now he’s trying to take credit for President Obama’s economy.
Go over to Trump’s Twitter today and you’ll see a series of bragging tweets about the current state of the economy. Six months and zero pieces of major economic legislation into Trump’s term, Trump didn’t just land on third base and think he hit a triple. He thinks he invented baseball.
But while it’s undoubtedly true that the economy is doing well, by the most important economic indicator — job creation — it’s actually doing worse than it was under Obama.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 209,000 jobs in July and roughly 1 million in Trump’s first six months in office.
Republicans — and especially Trump — are acting like the president has pulled the economy out of a near-fatal tailspin. But the opposite is true. He took over the captain’s seat while the airplane was still on autopilot.
It’s sort of the reverse of what happened after Obama took over from George W. Bush. Bush left the economy in tatters, and then Republicans endlessly groused that Obama wasn’t fixing it fast enough — which was a little like Exxon complaining that the residents of Valdez, Alaska, should have been way better at wiping oil off ducks.
Anyway, Trump continually asserted during Obama’s tenure that the economy was a wreck and only a failed casino mogul could save it. Well, let’s look at the record so far.
In Trump’s first six months, the economy added 1,074,000 jobs. In Obama’s final six months, the economy added 1,084,000 jobs. Those are essentially the same numbers (though, in the unlikely event Trump is reading this, we can save him a call to Michael Flynn: The second one is larger).
But even if those numbers are for all intents and purposes the same, they still shatter the prevailing Republican narrative that Trump has suddenly revived the economy by dint of his business acumen.
But it gets even more interesting if you take a longer view.
In 2016 as a whole, when Trump was relentlessly hammering the Obama economy, the U.S. added 2.2 million jobs, and in 2015 the gain was 2.7 million. An easy back-of-the-envelope calculation (though in Trump’s case, he’d probably have to use both sides) shows that Obama’s economy — once it escaped the gravitational pull of Planet Derp— outperformed what Trump has done so far.
If you want to go back even further — to January 2010, when the economy first started to add jobs again after two years of cratering caused by Republican economic policies — the story is essentially the same.
From January 2010 through January 2017, when Obama left office, the economy added 15,763,000 jobs, for an average of 185,447 per month.
In Trump’s first six months, he added an average of just 179,000 per month.
And, as we all know, Obama came in with a severe handicap. In January 2009, the month he was inaugurated, the economy lost a stunning 793,000 jobs. In the month Trump was inaugurated, we added 216,000 jobs.
So Trump has a choice: Admit that he’s a terrible job creator, admit that Obama was a pretty good job creator after all, or continue to lie his face off.
Guess which one he’s going to pick.