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Ramesh Ponnuru and Karl W. Smith

Did Trumponomics Actually Beat Obamanomics?

Two Bloomberg Opinion columnists debate the impact of Trump’s unorthodox approach to economic policymaking.

Something happened.

Something happened.

Photographer: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Before the coronavirus gouged holes in U.S. prosperity in March, the economy was sailing along nicely. There’s not much debate about that. There is, however, plenty of disagreement about how much credit should go to the policies enacted during President Donald Trump’s term. Bloomberg Opinion columnists Ramesh Ponnuru and Karl W. Smith found themselves on different sides of that question and chatted about it via email.

Ramesh Ponnuru: Karl, you and I are members of a very small club, being a) economic conservatives who are b) relatively dovish on monetary policy under the terms of the debate over the last 10 years and c) Bloomberg Opinion columnists. Not surprisingly, then, I agreed with much in your recent column on how Trump’s economy performed better than Obama’s. The economy was strong during Trump’s first three years in office, and Democrats made themselves look foolish by denying it. I mostly agree with you, as well, on which Trump policies should be kept: namely, tax cuts and a Federal Reserve erring on the side of low interest rates.