EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
A recent cover of The Economist hails the “great jobs boom” across the developed world. Although President Trump claims credit for the good news, the reality is that the boom is global: Two-thirds of developed countries enjoy record high employment among those of working age. Yet even with the global economy at its best, it still doesn’t work for working people, particularly in the United States.
It’s true that the top-line unemployment rate in the United States—3.6 percent—is the lowest in half a century (although distorted because labor-force participation is still depressed) and wages finally have begun to stir. But Trump’s claim that his tax cuts and deregulation policies are the cause of this is laughable. Assessing the 2017 tax cuts, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service noted that gross domestic product growth in 2018—2.9 percent—was virtually the same as the Congressional Budget Office had projected without the tax cuts. Nor was there any “indication of a surge in wages.” Instead, there was—as critics predicted—a record $1 trillion in stock buybacks, as chief executives and investors pocketed the tax giveaways.
Similarly, Trump’s deregulation boasts are also, not surprisingly, a stretch. A review by Rutgers University professor Stuart Shapiro concludes that it was “extremely unlikely” that Trump’s deregulation through his first year in office had “any appreciable effect on the economy.” In fact, the states and cities enjoying the greatest jobs boom are largely those in which labor-market regulations—hikes in the minimum wage, guarantees of vacation or family-leave time, crackdowns on wage theft and more—are proliferating.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.