CNBC’s Hardwood Schools Trump, Trump Jr., After Revised Jobs Numbers Puts Dent In Main Economic Talking Points

The chief Washington correspondent for CNBC took the president and his son to task on Thursday, issuing out tweets in which he corrected previous statements the two have made about a supposed booming economy.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – MARCH 28: Donald Trump Jr. talks to the press before the arrival of his father President Donald Trump during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids was the final city Trump visited during his 2016 campaign. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Last Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted, in all capital letters, that recently released government numbers demonstrated a stellar year for gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2018 under his watch.


That wasn’t the case, unfortunately. As CNBC’s John Harwood pointed out, revised numbers brought the yearly growth rate down to 2.97 percent over the past year, similar to what was seen under former President Barack Obama in 2015.

Harwood didn’t stop there, however, and decided to “fact check” a statement written out by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., in which the president’s eldest child tried to chastise a speech given by Obama during the midterm election campaign last fall.

Obama had, during that speech in October, suggested Trump’s economic prowess wasn’t as strong as the current president was making it out to be. “When you hear all this talk about economic miracles, remember who started it,” Obama said, implying that Trump inherited from him an already improving economy.

Trump Jr. took Obama to task for those comments. “This is the dumbest statement in the history of both politics and economics,” Trump Jr. wrote in his tweet in October. “Remember when @realDonaldTrump said he would hit 4% GDP growth and you said ‘There’s no magic want [sic] for that’? Well ABRACADABRA @barackobama, we are at 4.2%. You just needed a leader to get it done!”

Unfortunately for the president’s son, in his comments attacking Obama for supposedly saying something dumb, it seemed Trump Jr. himself exposed his own ignorances, as Harwood pointed out in his tweet “updating” his “abracadabra” commentary.

The 4.2 percent figure Trump Jr. cited was not a yearly number, but rather a quarterly growth rate, Harwood explained. And as the year went by, the numbers for 2018 sank lower and lower.

“[A]bracadabra update,” Harwood wrote. “[G]rowth declined steadily through rest of 2018. 4.2% in Q2, 3.4% in Q3, 2.2% in Q4.”

At least for Trump Sr., his mistake was simple, in that he cited numbers before they had been officially updated and finalized. But Trump Jr. apparently looked at quartlerly numbers and exposed his own ignorance on the matter, wrongly believing them to be yearly figures. That’s hard to defend or come back from.

In fact, far from reaching the 4 percent promise he made, the economy under Trump’s watch hasn’t yet breached 3 percent yearly GDP growth.

Even as numbers were recently revised down, the White House continued to be optimistic for 2019. The Trump administration predicted a 3.2 percent growth for this year, although most economists believe the rate will be closer to being between 2.0 percent and 2.5 percent, per reporting from the Washington Post.

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