Trump Takes Full Ownership of Economy As Midterms Approach

Growth the result of an ‘one-time sugar high,’ economic think tank warns

PEOSTA, IA - JULY 26: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a round-table discussion with business leaders at Northeast Iowa Community College on July 26, 2018 in Peosta, Iowa. The stop is the first of two Midwest stops the president has scheduled for today. Later this afternoon Trump will visit U.S. Steel's Granite City Works near St. Louis. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump took full ownership of the U.S. economy Friday, just over three months until Election Day and as the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its latest numbers showing gains from the previous quarter.

The president took a victory lap under a hot late-July sun outside the White House, as federal data put second quarter growth at just over 4. 1 percent, saying he intends to tout it right through November’s midterm congressional elections.

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“This isn’t a one-time shot,” the president said, calling the growth rate “very sustainable” even as economic experts and Democrats expressed doubts.

He also said the economy has added 3.7 million new jobs since his election and $7 trillion in wealth, and the trade deficit had fallen by $52 billion.

The president’s predictions come 18 months into his presidency and amounted to him taking credit for the growth — and ownership of an economy he complained had grew too sluggishly under President Barack Obama.

The event, which was not on the president’s public schedule released Thursday night by the White House, came amid reports Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, was ready to tell Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller that Trump knew about the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer that was attended by Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. before it occurred.

The president fired off a tweet Friday morning denying that. But, notably, he did not take questions from reporters Friday morning.

The uptick was fueled by accelerated exports and inflation. This follows growth of 2.2 percent in the first quarter and 2.3 percent in 2017. The second quarter estimate will be revised as more data is collected. Some experts said the numbers might be inflated as countries like China bought U.S. goods before an all-out trade war begins.

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“Unfortunately, this rapid growth is largely the effect of a one-time sugar high and is not representative of likely growth over the course of the next year, let alone the next decade,” the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said Friday. “Most analysts continue to estimate that real GDP will grow by about 3 percent this year and by 2 percent or less annually over the next decade.”

And the Democratic National Committee criticized the president for his event to “boast” about the state of the economy, contending in a statement that “workers’ wages have actually decreased over the past year.” 

On Thursday, the president predicted growth of between “3.8 to 5.2” percent. Earlier that day, chief White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told Fox Business the growth in the report would be “big.” Trump said he would be happy with any second quarter growth of 4 percent or more.

Also on Thursday, he endorsed the notion of growing the economy “nice and slowly.” The latter contradicts candidate Trump, who often slammed Obama for being too methodical about economic growth.

Doug Sword contributed to this report.Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.