Has Donald Trump been good for the US economy? And for equality?

When asked who’d be better for the economy, Americans are much more likely to reply “Trump” than “Biden”. And a promise to bring the stock market and prosperity to new heights if elected is one of Trump’s promises.  So shouldn’t people in the US hold their nose today and vote for Trump? After all, it’s the economy, stupid.

But maybe, before making their mark, they should look a little more closely at the figures. In 2016 when Trump came to office, there were 9.4 million millionaires in the US; in 2020 there were 10.5 million millionaires in the US.  So clearly Trump’s presidency has been good for realising the American dream: anyone can become financially successful if they just roll up their sleeves and put in the work.

But what about those in poverty – can they share the American dream? Has Trump helped those people? Well, that depends.

In 2019, after several years of Trump’s reign,  10.5% of people in the US were living in poverty. That’s in the richest country in the world with over one-tenth of its people poor. And if you happened to be black and American, then you’d belong to a group where 18.8% of the people were in poverty.  

Trump claims to be the best friend the markets have ever had, and it’s true they roared ahead of the past four years – although not so much since the pandemic. But what Trump leaves out is that he was handed a very healthy economy by Barack Obama, and he kept it going, at least for some and at least until recently. A healthy market, low black unemployment, decent pay – these were all things that were set on a plate for Trump. It’s a bit like Trump’s claim to be a self-made billionaire: “My dad gave me only one million dollars”.

In 2018, the average household income in the US was $84,600; the average household income for blacks in the US was $51, 600.

Finally, American billionaires have had a really good pandemic. If you take the 643 billionaires (yes, Virginia, I feel like fainting myself), those 643 billionaires have managed to make a combined gain of $845 billion since last March. Nice work if you can get it.

So yes, Trump was in the White House at a time when the American economy was in good shape, and this healthy state was something he inherited from Obama. But the inequality remains, as Black Lives Matter shows.  It’s not all as dramatically unequal as with George Floyd, who had the life squeezed out of him by a white policeman. But ask the average African-American how the Covid era has been for him or her, and you’ll realise you’d be stupid to think that a healthy economy hastens the day of equality. That’s why I predict that black Americans have turned out or will today turn out and vote in record numbers for Joe Biden.  It’s not that he’s a charismatic politician with a stirring dream for the US; it’s more that he’s clearly a more evolved human life-form than his opponent. And that’s why I predict Biden will win this election.

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