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To counter the downtrodden economy, Trump exaggerates its pre-coronavirus greatness

President Trump spike during a campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. Trying to revitalize his struggling reelection campaign, President Trump has been unequivocal in describing the robustness of the US economy under his watch before the coronavirus outbreak devastated it.

“We built the strongest and most prosperous economy in the history of the world,” he said at an Arizona rally on Tuesday.

Unequivocal, but untrue.

While the record-long economic expansion that began in 2009 continued under Trump and unemployment was near historic lows last winter, it wasn’t the best period in American history, let alone the world’s. Though economists say it’s difficult to declare the top US stretch, several were better, including the early 1950s, when growth approached 9 percent one year — triple the best annual performance under Trump — and the unemployment rate hit a record low of 2.5 percent.

By his own standard from the 2016 campaign — achieving 3 percent or more economic growth in at least one calendar year of a presidential term — Trump’s stewardship has been no better than Barack Obama’s.

“It was a good period. It definitely wasn’t the best in history,” Michael Bordo, an economics professor and director of […]

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