Letters to the Editor

Has Trump made America great again? No

Re “Trump is already making America great again” letter by John E Bonsignor.

Mr. Bonsignor argues that President Trump has found the elixir to make us better. He provides several examples, but I’ll focus on the measurable economic ones.

Some coal miners are back to work in West Virginia, but during Trump’s first five months in office, 1,000 new coal jobs were reported - compared to the 1,000 new coal jobs reported during the five months between July and November of President Obama’s last year in office. It’s hard to conclude anything other than a continuation of a trend that began under Obama. 

While campaigning, Trump blamed the decline in jobs like coal mining on Obama’s policies. The coal-mining decline began in the 1970s. As Robert Murray, founder and chief executive officer of Murray Energy, the largest privately-held coal miner in the U.S., said of Trump’s comments about coal mining jobs: “He can’t bring them back.”

The stock market has broken more records. New York University Professor Edward Wolff concluded that in 2013, the top 20 percent of Americans owned 92 percent of the stock. While the stock market breaks records, the middle-class, working-class, and the lower-class, including many Trump supporters, will see little benefit. 

The unemployment rate is down. President Trump inherited an economy that saw 75 consecutive months of job growth under President Obama. Could it be that President Trump is reaping the benefits of President Obama’s economic policies?

Despite the job growth, wage stagnation has stifled the middle-class for the past 50 years. The gains from tremendous productivity increases did not go to those who do the work. The financial gains went to the wealthy. Most job growth is in low- and minimum-wage service industries. Off-shoring is partly to blame, yet Ivanka Trump’s products are manufactured overseas.

The minimum wage has nearly $4 less purchasing power than in 1968 and many family breadwinners rely on minimum wage jobs as their main source of income. 

Renewed confidence in businesses as bureaucratic red tape is slowly being diminished? Not correct. The Conference Board measure of CEO confidence declined during the second quarter 68 to 61. Measures above 50 indicate more positive than negative, but there was still a decline. Expectations were high early in the Trump administration, but developments such as the failure of healthcare legislation might dampen those expectations.

Just as telling may be consumer confidence. Consumer spending is about 70 percent of the economy. If people aren’t spending money, the economy shrinks. In June, consumer confidence fell to 94 from 98. Optimism still outweighs pessimism, but consumer confidence was below 60 when President Obama took office, a time when nearly 800,000 jobs were lost during his first month. Although the trend has fluctuated, it’s been upward for the last eight years.

Magic elixirs to cure our ills come and go, but none have worked. The economy hasn’t gotten worse since President Obama - but that’s not great.                

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.