NORTHBROOK, IL - OCTOBER 02: People look at cars at Northbrook Toyota on October 2, 2012 in Northbrook, Illinois. Toyota sales in September rose 42 percent...
Scott Olson

Trump keeps taking credit for Obama-era economic news

When it comes to avoiding responsibility for bad things that happen on his watch, Donald Trump will go to almost any lengths. But the president is also capable of acting with equal vigor when trying to take credit for good things that happen on his watch.

Take yesterday, for example.
President Donald Trump lent his office to Japanese automaker Toyota on Monday, saying the company’s announcement of a $1.33 billion investment in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant was evidence that confidence in the economic climate “has greatly improved under my administration.”
“Toyota’s decision to invest $1.3 billion in their Kentucky plant is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration,” Trump said in a written statement. The press release was Toyota’s, not the White House’s, which is itself unusual – because ordinarily a president doesn’t communicate with the public through corporate public-relations departments.

Nevertheless, the Republican sees the $1.3 billion investment, which will add 700 employees to the Kentucky plant, as evidence of his economic prowess and the “climate” he’s created.

Which is wrong. The 700 jobs were actually added last year, before Toyota knew who the next president would be. What’s more, the $1.3 billion investment has “been in the works for years,” and a company spokesperson acknowledged that Toyota’s decision had nothing to do with the Trump administration.

And yet, this … just … keeps … happening.

As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, Trump has now trumpeted jobs announcements in recent months – from Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Walmart, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Softbank, Sprint, Alibaba, and Charter Communications – in which the president sought credit for developments he not only had nothing to do with, but also, in most instances, pointed to Obama-era news. Yesterday’s effort was the 11th time the president has tried to pull this trick since taking office nearly 12 weeks ago.

A fact-check piece from the Washington Post added, “Trump’s bravado on these jobs announcements is becoming a bad joke.”

Worse, they’re also self-defeating. No president can credibly take credit for every employment development that occurs during his or her presidency – nor should any president want to.

Last month, for example, JCPenny announced its shedding thousands of American workers, a move, as best as I can tell, the White House has not commented on. It hardly seems fair to hold Trump directly responsible for this, but therein lies the point: the president shouldn’t want to connect his administration to every significant private-sector decision related to jobs.

Trump may not realize the extent to which he’s inviting trouble, not only because he’s taking credit for Obama-era successes, but also because he’s inviting blame for every bit of bad news that happens on his watch.

Donald Trump, Kentucky and Toyota

Trump keeps taking credit for Obama-era economic news