“I’ll be the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” promised Donald J. Trump during his campaign. With all the gloating that he and his Republican cohorts have done about saving the U.S. economy, one might assume that he has fulfilled that promise. In reality, job creation in 2017 was at the lowest level in the last six years, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.
Forbes magazine described the job creation numbers comparison between Obama and Trump: “Over the September to December timeframe, there were 163,000 additional jobs per month and for the year 171,000 jobs were added monthly. This compares to President Obama’s last six years where the job market averaged at least 174,000 per month and hit 250,000 in 2014.” Once again, the con man-in-chief has failed to deliver on his promise.
ProPublica has investigated President Trump’s job creation claims: “Since the election, President Trump has made 31 specific claims about companies adding or saving American jobs thanks to his intervention. We went back to see what’s become of those announcements. President Trump has made many claims promising that individual companies such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Boeing will hire large-and specific-numbers of American workers, a total of 2.4 million in all. We found that only about 206,000 of those jobs have been created so far. Roughly 136,000 of those were genuinely new positions, as opposed to slots that were planned before the presidential election. And some 63,000 of them are potentially attributable to Trump, according to the companies that did the hiring.”
Here are a couple of examples from the report: “Remember the Carrier deal right after the election? Trump claimed he had saved 1,100 jobs in the company’s Indiana operations from being moved to Mexico. Putting aside the fact that he counted 300 positions that were never at risk, Carrier received $7 million in grants and tax breaks from the state of Indiana, and still laid off more than 500 people.”
The report continues: “Just before Trump took office, Alibaba chief Jack Ma stood with the president-elect and promised 1 million U.S. jobs. But there’s no sign any Americans were actually hired. The Chinese e-commerce giant wasn’t planning to build facilities or hire coders in the U.S.; it’s trying to recruit American merchants to use its platform with the expectation that those companies would then hire more people. Alibaba wouldn’t comment on its progress.”
One of Trump’s biggest sycophants in Congress is Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas. He has written several newspaper columns touting the Republican tax cut bill and the benefits of deregulation: “President Trump and a Republican-led Congress have promoted a pro-growth agenda that has put the economy on the right path. Since the moment the new session of Congress began, we have been moving to undue the regulatory abuses of the previous administration that killed jobs, forced businesses overseas and cost our economy trillions of dollars…The historic tax reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump is the push the recovery needs to get across the finish line.”
Sen. Boozman is obviously not a student of history. While tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation will create a short-term exuberance in the stock market based on greed, those policies inevitably lead to corruption and disaster. The three greatest economic disasters in American history, 1929, 1982 and 2008 took place under Republican Presidents Hoover, Reagan and Bush. Tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation of financial markets preceded each catastrophe. In fact, 9 of the last 10 recessions have occurred under Republican presidents.
“Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box,” a book written by business lawyer Lew Goldfarb and financial services expert, Bob Deitrick has revealed that the American economy has done dramatically better under Democratic leadership. After years of research, with the aid of student research assistants, covering 40 years of Democratic administrations and 40 years of Republican administrations (1929-2009), they created the most comprehensive source for calculating the economic performance of the different administrations. Among their findings:
• Personal disposable income has grown nearly six times more under Democratic presidents.
• Gross Domestic Product has grown seven times more under Democratic presidents.
• Corporate profits have grown over 16 percent more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53 percent per year).
• Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100,000 for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126,000 at the end, if you invested $100,000 for 40 years of Democratic administration you had $3.9 million at the end).
Sen. Boozman also makes the ludicrous argument that the estate tax exemption needed to be increased from $11 million to $22 million, for a couple, in order to protect family farms. Unless your last name is Tyson, no family farm in Arkansas was likely to have needed that protection.
Now, let’s look at some of the regulatory abuses that Boozman and Trump want to eliminate. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) developed new standards for blowout preventers. The blowout preventer is the equipment that failed during the disaster. Under Trump, the BSEE has now found some of the new standards to be “potentially unduly burdensome” for the offshore oil and gas industry and has proposed that they be removed.
Among the provisions to be removed is the requirement for a third party to certify that certain safety devices, such as the blowout preventer, are “designed to function in the most extreme conditions to which it will be exposed and that the device will function as designed.” In response to the proposal, Miyoko Sakashita, the director of the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity said: “Reversing offshore safety rules isn’t just deregulation, it’s willful ignorance.”
The Interior Department has repealed rules created by the Obama administration to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands. The rules would have, among other things, required companies to disclose the chemicals used in their operations. The dangers of hydraulic fracturing should be known to everybody in this area with Oklahoma having a dramatic increase in earthquakes caused by wastewater injection wells used in the process.
The Trump administration is attempting to kill the Methane Waste Prevention Rule. This rule was created “to reduce the waste of natural gas from flaring, venting, and leaks from oil and gas production operations on public and Indian lands.” This rule would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is the major cause of global warming. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) estimates the rule can save enough methane to supply around 740,000 households each year. Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to defeat a repeal of this rule in the U.S. Senate. The BLM has delayed compliance of this rule until 2019 and that delay is being challenged in court by New Mexico and California.
On Feb. 2, 2017, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution blocking implementation of an Obama administration regulation known as the Stream Protection Rule. The purpose of this rule was to limit the dumping of coal mining waste into streams creating a hazard known as acid mine runoff. As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency: “Acid mine drainage is the formation and movement of highly acidic water rich in heavy metals. This acidic water forms through the chemical reaction of surface water and shallow subsurface water with rocks that contain sulfur-bearing minerals, resulting in sulfuric acid. Heavy metals can be leached from rocks that come in contact with the acid, a process that may be substantially enhanced by bacterial action. The resulting fluids may be highly toxic and, when mixed with groundwater, surface water and soil, may have harmful effects on humans, animals and plants.”
Trump’s Office of Management and Budget has delayed for 18 months enactment of the Labor Department’s Fiduciary Rule with the goal of eventually rescinding it. Simply put this rule would require financial advisors, and brokers, to put the client’s interest above their own when working with retirement accounts. Currently, if an advisor has the option between two similar mutual funds, he or she can place you in the one that pays a higher commission even if the other fund has lower fees and would be better for you in the long run.
Showing that the Trump administration is on the side of the financial services industry instead of consumers, White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn drew this terrible analogy when arguing to kill the Fiduciary Rule during an interview: “We think it is a bad rule for consumers. This is like putting only healthy food on the menu because unhealthy food tastes good but you still shouldn’t eat it because you might die younger.” Being a victim of bad financial advice from others is in no way comparable to making a personal choice to eat unhealthy food.
When talking about deregulation, you’ll find that Trump or Boozman rarely get into specifics. It is almost always limited to regulations are bad and deregulation is good. The reason is that when you get into the details, deregulation is often stupid and indefensible.