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Matthew A. Winkler

Ranking the Obama Economy

Trump says the last eight years have been disastrous. Nope, not when compared to other recent presidencies.


Photographer: Paul Morse/George W. Bush Presidential Center via Getty Images

Throughout his campaign to become the 45th president, Donald J. Trump called the U.S. economy “the Obama economic disaster.” As the late senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to say, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” And the economic facts are cruel to Trump’s claim.

Economists resist giving U.S. presidents too much credit or blame for the economy, because prosperity depends more on luck, history and the effects of government policies over many years than on any president’s use of limited economic-management tools. But there’s plenty of data that can be used to determine how much the economy improved (or didn’t) during the terms of the three Democrats and three Republicans who have occupied the White House since 1976.