POLITICS

Last Year's Economic Growth Slowest Of Trump's Presidency, New Figures Reveal

Annual economic growth slowed to 2.3% for 2019 — 2.1% in the last quarter — after the initial "sugar rush" of the Trump administration's corporate tax breaks.

The economy grew 2.3% last year in the weakest performance of President Donald Trump’s time in office, according to data released Thursday by the Commerce Department. 

Trump promised annual economic growth — measured by gross domestic product — of at least 3%. 

The slowdown was attributed to the continuing costs and uncertainty of Trump’s trade war, and a consumer spending dip in the final quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the current $21.7 trillion U.S. economy, fell as job gains slowed to 1.8% from 3.2% in the previous quarter.

Many experts have derided Trump’s massive tax cut passed in 2017, largely benefiting corporations, as a short-lived “sugar rush” that failed to trigger significant business investment and a new level of sustained growth as deficits zoomed.

“The remarkable thing is how weak wages are, how weak the economy is, given that, as a result of the tax bill, we have a $1 trillion deficit,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz complained at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Trump has indicated he’ll consider cutting programs like Social Security and Medicare to save costs, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is beginning to call for even more tax cuts.

The U.S. economy grew 2.4% in 2017 and 2.9% in 2018, temporarily boosted by tax cuts that went into effect that year. It grew 2.1% in the final quarter of 2019. The Congressional Budget Office is predicting a 2.2% boost in economic growth for 2020 but only 1.7% for the rest of the decade.

Despite the economy’s moderate showing last year, it racked up an 11th year in the nation’s record-breaking stretch of economic expansion.

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