Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hannity Dishonesty

One thing that I suppose helps Trump supporters sleep at night is the notion that, despite his rotten, ill-tempered, chaotic, ignorant, conniving, and dishonest nature, Trump has one saving grace – he is giving a tremendous boost to the economy. Or, at least, that’s what he never hesitates to claim he is doing. 

And, in some ways that Democrats may be reluctant to acknowledge, there might be something to some of these claims. Some economic indicators are looking better under Trump. But not necessarily all. 

One such indicator is GDP. During the campaign, Trump loved to blast Obama for the sluggish economy and highlighted the fact that annual GDP growth never rose above 3% in Obama’s eight years. Trump promised that, with him in charge of the economy, growth would go up to 4%, maybe even to 6%. This pie-in-the-sky promise was also touted by Trump’s number one bootlicker, Sean Hannity. Naturally.

So, it’s no wonder that when, back in November, the Atlanta Fed made an eye-watering prediction of 4.5% growth for the final quarter of last year, Hannity latched onto this bit of optimistic news like a dog on a bone, repeating it often on his radio show. (Hannity generally repeats the same talking points a lot, ad nauseum, in fact.) 

This prediction was just what Hannity wanted to hear. He effused:
“Yesterday, the Atlanta Fed projected that GDP growth for the fourth quarter will be 4.5%. Obama never once in his presidency for a year had 3% GDP growth. Not once. The only president in history.”
You can see how Hannity was parroting Trump’s line about Obama’s shoddy GDP track record. 

Now, the preliminary results for 2017 are in. The Atlanta Fed’s 4.5% growth rate for Q4 didn’t materialize. Instead, it came in at only a more down-to-earth 2.6%, forcing Hannity to create some positive spin by misleading his listeners. He does this all the time. Here’s what he said this week: 
“When you look at these economic statistics, they’re mind-blowing. Lowest unemployment rate we have had now in decades. The best economic growth. It could have been better for the final quarter of the year. The fourth quarter it was 2.6%. But the previous two quarters were better than Obama had in any two given years.” 
The last sentence is where Hannity’s supreme dishonesty is on full display. He’s trying to deflect from the disappointment of 2.6% growth by pointing to the Q2 and Q3 rates of 3.1% and 3.2%, respectively. 

As I’ve written before, he’s comparing apples to oranges. It’s true that Obama never had a year of 3.1% or 3.2% growth.  But neither has Trump. Not yet. Hannity is implying that Obama never saw the kind of quarterly growth that we've seen so far under Trump. That’s a lie. 

In fact, under Obama there was a quarter of 3.1% (Q3 2013), and a quarter of 3.2% (Q1 2015). Plus, two quarters of 3.9%, one quarter of 4.0%, two quarters of 4.6%, and one quarter of 5.2%. That’s eight quarters as good, or much better, than Trump as achieved thus far. 

Of course, Hannity also failed to mention the annual rate for 2017, which is preliminarily estimated to be 2.3%. That’s not quite the 3%, 4% or 6% Americans were promised. And he would be even less eager to mention that Obama had annual rates higher than 2.3% during three years of his presidency (2010, 2014, 2015). 

Now, 2.6% growth perhaps isn’t too bad. And perhaps this will turn out to be the nadir of the Trump economy. Perhaps 2018 will turn out much better, maybe even be tremendous. 


Maybe. But, still it always pisses me off when someone like Hannity so obviously twists the truth in order to gloss over unwelcome news that runs counter to his narrative – and most of his audience no doubt swallow it all without blinking.  And that is sad.  

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