Slowing economy falls short of Trump's promise that it would 'rock'

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Donald Trump promised his tax cuts would bring 4%, 5%, and maybe even 6% growth. He got just 2.1% last quarter.

The U.S. economy grew in 2019 at a pace well short of Donald Trump's promises, according to new data from his own administration.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced on Thursday that in the fourth quarter of 2019, the economy slowed to just 2.1% growth. The nation's gross domestic product grew 2.3% for the year, compared to 2.9% in 2018.

Trump repeatedly said the economy would be much better than this.

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On his 2016 campaign website, he said he would "[b]oost growth to 3.5 percent per year on average, with the potential to reach a 4 percent growth rate."

In March 2016, Trump told Fox News that economic growth of "4% or 5%" was "absolutely doable" and would allow him to pay for "everything," including a massive infrastructure plan.

In the final general election debate that October, he went even further: "And we're bringing GDP from, really, 1 percent, which is what it is now ... up to 4 percent. And I actually think we can go higher than 4 percent. I think you can go to 5 percent or 6 percent."

According to the bureau's data, the economy has not grown at a 4% rate in any quarter since Trump took office in 2017.

In December 2017, Trump signed a massive tax bill that mostly benefited the very rich and large corporations while raising taxes on millions of families. He predicted that it would fuel growth and that the rate would rise from "3%" to "4, 5, and maybe even 6% ultimately."

"We are back. We are really going to start to rock. We need this as our final push and you're going to see some numbers that are really great," he bragged.

But the economy has not achieved 3% growth in any year of Trump's presidency. A May 2019 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that Trump's tax law did little to boost growth, noting,"Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend."

Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long observed on Thursday that a big part of the problem is that business investment actually contracted for most of last year. "The GOP tax cuts were supposed to fuel a big biz investment boom, but that hasn't happened," she wrote. "Many blame Trump's trade war for spooking biz leaders."

Last January, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that Trump's tariffs would limit economic growth by an average of 0.1% each year for a decade. "U.S. tariffs reduce U.S. economic activity primarily by reducing the purchasing power of U.S. consumers' income as a result of higher prices and by making capital goods more expensive," the nonpartisan agency said at the time.

Trump did not immediately comment on his sagging economy on Thursday and the White House did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the discrepancy between his promises and the actual growth.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.