If you were trying to damage a weak economy, you might follow this script:
~ Threaten punitive tariffs on imports, since protectionism caused havoc during the Great Depression.
~ Create uncertainty in big sectors such as healthcare, by upending government programs that help set business strategy.
~ Pull out of global agreements, against the advice of the nation’s top business leaders.
~ Pursue policies meant to protect the jobs and technologies of the past rather than the future.
~ Generate ongoing scandal that imperils the US presidency.
President Trump, of course, has done all of these things, to varying degrees—yet consumer confidence is high, hiring is strong and financial markets are buoyant. In our latest Trumponomics Report Card, Yahoo Finance gives Trump a grade of B+ on the economy, which means the economy is stronger right now than it was under most of Trump’s White House predecessors during their first terms, going back to the 1970s.
Trump critics have blasted our B+ grade, arguing that he hasn’t been in office long enough to influence the economy, and is enjoying tailwinds generated during President Obama’s final years in office. We acknowledge that, though it’s also true that Trump’s proposals to cut taxesand slash regulation have helped boost business confidence, since they ought to fatten corporate profits—if they ever come to pass.
But Trump has also done a number of things—intentionally, or not—that would harm profits and employment if the economy weren’t coasting along. The Republican plan to pull the plug on Obamacare, without explaining what would happen next, has left dozens of insurers and millions of consumers unsure about federal policies in 2018 that could make or break corporate and family budgets. One reason insurers such as Anthem are leaving the program is the inability to predict federal reimbursements in 2018, which directly affect profitability. And that decision is Trump’s alone to make, with no involvement by Congress required.