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Reporter

President Trump, who came into office when unemployment was at a then-10-year low, thinks that he was “given a very tough hand,” because when he “came up here, we had an economy that was going down.”

He's either lying or delusional. There are no other possibilities.

It might get a little tiresome to point out over and over and over again that Trump's favorite falsehoods are, well, false, but that's what makes it important. Just because it gets repetitive doesn't mean we should let untruths go unchallenged.

Which brings us to the point at hand: In the past 45 years, only one president has inherited a better economy than Trump did. That was George W. Bush, who took office at the tail end of the tech bubble, when unemployment was a mere 4.2 percent. Trump has been luckier, though, in that his term didn't begin just as an economic expansion was ending. On the contrary, the slow and steady recovery that President Barack Obama kick-started with the stimulus has continued under Trump — just a little slower and a little steadier than before. Indeed, as you can see below, the economy added almost 3.5 million jobs in Obama's last 16 months in office, compared with just under 3 million jobs in Trump's first 16 months.


Who knew that making America great again meant making job growth a little worse?

Now, to be fair, this isn't really Trump's fault. We'd expect job growth to slow after so many people have found one in the past eight or nine years that there aren't as many people looking for one right now. But it does give the lie to the idea that things were bad before Trump took office, or that he's made them any better since. The truth is that, so far at least, Trump's signature accomplishment, a $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations, has mostly increased payouts to shareholders, as its critics said it would — providing little boost to the economy, because wealthy investors don't tend to spend as much — and not increased business investment, as its supporters promised. Which, if it continues to be the case, would mean it wouldn't ever promote much faster growth.

The economy, then, is a lot like Trump's business. He inherited far more than most people could ever dream but tried to convince everyone that it was far less than it obviously was. Which is to say that the “very, very small” million-dollar loan he admits he received from his father is just like the “very tough hand” he got from Obama: misleading at best and fictitious at worst when it comes to describing actual events.

The way Trump describes himself as triumphing over some of the least-adverse economic circumstances a new president has ever faced makes you wonder what he would have said about someone who managed to turn the highest unemployment rate a president has been bequeathed in the postwar period into the longest streak of consecutive job growth on record. Oh, wait, we know the answer to that one. Trump would have said that “the economy cannot recover” with that person “in office” — because that person was Obama.

I guess in Trump's world, 4.7 percent unemployment is a lot harder to start with than 8.3 percent unemployment.