Speech ● Jobs and Economy
For Immediate Release: 
January 28, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today on the economy, discussing how the current economic expansion began well before President Trump took office, how his policies are preventing its benefits from being broadly felt by all Americans, and how House Democrats are fighting to ensure more working Americans can get ahead in today’s economy. Below are his remarks and a link to the video:
 
 
Click here to watch the video.
 
“Madam Speaker, I come to the Floor this afternoon with a number of my Democratic colleagues to speak about the subject of paramount concern for most Americans: the economy.
 
“The Joint Economic Committee released two reports today that all Americans should look at carefully. One of them focuses on the failure of the 2017 Trump tax cuts, which Chairman Neal will be focusing on shortly. Republicans claimed that the tax cuts would ‘pay for themselves’ and not add a penny to deficits and debt. That’s a theory we’ve heard time and again from Republicans to support their tax cuts for the wealthy. Both experience and evidence tell us that their tax cuts always end up driving our deficits up, hurting the middle class, and placing the burden on future generations. I hope Americans will read that report and draw the same conclusions that so many economists have about how dangerous this tax scam was.

The second report, which I will be focusing on this evening, concerns the economy more broadly. It asks a question that many Americans may be asking this year: is the Trump economy doing as well as the President claims?  And can the President take credit for economic growth that began long before he took office? I want to thank the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Beyer, for his efforts as Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee – as well as former Vice Chair Maloney. I will be yielding to Mr. Beyer soon to speak more about the content of the committee’s report.

“But first, I want to speak a little bit about this President’s record on the economy. President Trump sought office on a raft of economic promises. He promised to create 25 million new jobs in ten years. He promised 6% growth in GDP. He promised to eliminate the $19 trillion national debt. He promised to ‘get the wages up’ for American workers, with $4,000 raises as a result of the tax cuts. And he promised to make health care ‘much less expensive’ and ‘much better.’ Let’s see how he’s doing. On the first measure, jobs growth has slowed under President Trump, compared to the level during the economic expansion that began under his predecessor.
 
“Over the last thirty-five months of President Obama’s second term, the same number of months President Trump has been in office, our economy gained an average of 227,000 jobs per month. Under President Trump, so far that figure is 191,000. That’s 36,000 fewer jobs created per month and 1.26 million fewer jobs over President trump’s term from the trend he inherited. At this pace, President Trump’s four-year-term will not achieve the same level of job creation as the previous four-year term under President Obama. In fact, he’d fall about 2.5 million jobs short.

“President Trump also loves to cite the low unemployment rate, which in December 2019 stood at 3.5%. When he took office, the rate was 4.7%. Compare that to the decline in the unemployment rate during the same period in President Obama’s second term. At his second inauguration, the rate was 7.9%. He left office with a 4.7% unemployment rate, continuing a strong decline from the recession-high of 10% in 2009. Under President Obama, a decline of 5.3 percentage points. Under President Trump, a decline of 1.2 percentage points. President Trump inherited a downward trend in unemployment, and he has failed to keep up the pace.
 
“Next we come to GDP. While President Trump boasted that his Administration would see 6% GDP growth, it’s not even close. Over the first eleven quarters of his term, that figure was 2.6%, dropping to 2.1% in the third quarter of last year, and the Federal Reserve estimates that 2020 will see it fall even lower as any short-term stimulus from his tax cuts disappears. It is clear: the Trump tax scam did little to boost GDP, as he claimed it would.

“On deficits and the debt, President Trump’s promise would seem laughable if the reality weren’t so dangerous. Instead of reversing deficits and eliminating the debt, he has overseen an increase, fueled by his 2017 tax scam that gave $2 trillion in new, unpaid-for tax cuts primarily to the wealthiest in our country. Last week, to the surprise of no one who understands Republicans’ history on the subject, President Trump suggested that he might seek cuts to Medicare and Social Security to offset the deficits created by his tax cuts. I will leave it to Chairman Yarmuth to go into greater detail about the Trump deficits.
 
“We have also seen this President campaign on reducing America’s trade deficit, but it has increased on his watch. In fact, according to the Joint Economic Committee’s report, as many as 450,000 jobs were lost in 2019 as a result of this President’s trade wars.

“The President loves to stand at the podium at his rallies and shout slogans about how his is the best economy ever and how he ‘inherited a mess’ from President Obama. Those statements, as so many of his have been shown to be, are not accurate. The facts tell the opposite story. Over the course of the Obama presidency, 10.8 million jobs were created as the unemployment rate fell from a peak of 10% to just 4.7% - as we saw earlier. In the last eleven quarters of President Obama’s term, real GDP growth was averaging 2.6% - a remarkable turnaround from the 8.4% decrease in the last quarter before he took office.

“Meanwhile, the annual median household income jumped $4,800 in the last two years of the Obama presidency. Compare that to the first two years of the Trump presidency, with an increase in annual median household income at just $1,400. In fact, incomes at every level have grown faster under Democrats than under Republicans since 1968, when we first began to measure household income.

“President Trump’s economy is just the latest chapter in a long story in which, time and time again, Democratic leadership has seen our economy out of recession and danger, while Republican leaders drop the baton they have been handed by their predecessors. This is a contrast that House Democrats will be highlighting this year, when Americans will again entrust a President and Congress with crafting economic policy. What President Trump doesn’t seem to understand, however, is that a thriving economy is more than a growing stock market. It’s about real economic security for American workers and their families. It’s about whether America is still a place where everyone has a fair shot, everyone has access to opportunities, and where everyone can get ahead.

“By that measure, this President’s record has been dismal. As a result of his policies, the number of Americans without health insurance rose to 8.5% in 2018. That was the first increase in a decade.  His efforts, alongside Congressional Republicans, to repeal, undermine, and sabotage the affordable care act, have brought uncertainty to health insurance markets and made it harder for working families to get affordable coverage for the care they need.
 
“On wages, we see another lost opportunity. For three years, President Trump and the Republican-led Senate have refused to support legislation to raise the minimum wage, which the House finally passed under a Democratic Majority in 2019. According to the monthly jobs report for December, hourly wage growth slipped to its slowest rate in eighteen months. That’s a far cry from the $4,000 annual salary increases president trump promised would trickle down from his tax cuts for the wealthiest.

“American workers deserve better. American exporters deserve better. American farmers and small business owners deserve better than this uncertain Trump economy. That’s why the Democratic-led House voted last year to raise wages, ensure equal pay for equal work, and give federal employees a long-overdue pay raise. It’s why we voted to lower prescription drug prices. And it’s why we voted to make it easier for more workers to save for a secure retirement and to protect multi-employer pension funds.

“Now, as we look ahead to 2020, House Democrats will continue to make economic opportunity our focus. I look forward to bringing more legislation to the Floor this year to ensure that we do not squander the gains of our recovery under President Obama. We will keep looking for ways to help Americans get ahead.

“I appreciate that a number of my Democratic colleagues are here this evening to add to this conversation, and it is now my privilege to yield to my friend, Mr. Beyer, the JEC Vice Chair.”