Last week, calculations of the country's economic growth for the fourth quarter of 2017 were revised to show a growth rate of 2.9 percent. That revision didn't get nearly as much attention as when the initial read of that quarter's growth came in below expectations at 2.6 percent. While we would all like to see faster growth, it is quite an accomplishment that over the first full three quarters of the Trump administration the economy has grown at an annual rate of nearly 3.1 percent.
While many are predicting GDP growth for the first three months of this year may not be as high, we should weigh that possibility against this certainty: the Left, and many in the media, will pounce on any report to throw doubt on not only the health of the American economy, but on the efficacy of President Donald Trump's MAGAnomics (Make America Great Again) agenda of tax reform, deregulation, trade renegotiation and domestic energy independence.
There will be headlines bellowing "slower growth" and a "stalling economy." Cable news talking heads will breathlessly, and endlessly, opine as to the supposed failure of tax reform and the true health of the economy, all the while hinting (and secretly hoping) that things will soon be much worse.
When they do — and believe me, they will — I encourage you to keep a few things in mind:
Foremost, confidence in the American economy among businesses and consumers is near historic highs. That means businesses, both small and large, and just as importantly, ordinary Americans, have more hope in the future of their jobs, their opportunities, and their own savings accounts.
Secondly, job openings are at a record high and the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent is at its lowest level since the turn of the century. People have stopped worrying about jobs and instead are able to focus on building their careers. A job is important, but a career is a life. And the creativity and productivity a career provides is what makes work enjoyable. As of today, Americans are much more comfortable taking more steps to build their lives.
Lastly, it's easy to see that most of the left has been wrong about the economy for quite some time now (some of us think they've been wrong since Karl Marx's "Das Kapital" was originally published in 1867.) I certainly remember what they said about our projections for 3 percent GDP. They mocked: "impossible." They criticized: "There is nothing in policy that would raise the growth rate." They laughed: "Assumptions are assumptions, but assuming 3 percent growth is just pie in the sky."
But even with a slow first quarter, things are looking up: the average projected growth rate for the first quarter among four prominent real-time GDP trackers is 2.2 percent — a full percentage point higher than the same quarter last year. That means the economy will have grown by 2.8 percent during the first four full quarters of the Trump administration. That's dramatically higher than the 1.9 percent the Obama administration told us to expect on their way out the door.
And dramatically higher than the administration even predicted. In our first budget we forecast economic growth would average 2.3 percent over the course of 2017. We achieved an average of 2.6 percent. With the president's tax cuts just beginning to kick in, we are well on our way to achieving the 3 percent growth we projected in our most recent budget.
After you've been in Washington long enough, you start to sense an eerie feel for the place. One of the biggest undercurrents is that things never really change that much. But under President Trump and his MAGAnomics agenda, we've been able to restore the fundamental dynamism of the American economy. People are believing in the system again, business owners are no longer afraid of looming red tape, and families are beginning to see new opportunities to invest in their futures.
People, quite simply, are better off than they were the day before the 2016 election. Yes, some of those people work on Wall Street. But many, many more work in factories in Ohio, in construction in Florida, and in small businesses in Wisconsin.
MAGAnomics is a simple formula, you just have to believe in capitalism and work and our people. You have to believe in America. And in Americans. This administration certainly does.
Commentary by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
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