White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House, September 12, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS

White House takes credit for Obama-era jobs

At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a curious boast about her boss’ economic record.

“Well, I think there’s also a lot of other things beyond just the stock market. The fact the unemployment levels have dropped, that’s certainly a big thing. The fact that 1.7 million new jobs have been created since Donald Trump was elected. Those are all positive things in the economy.

“We didn’t say it was completely fixed and that – but we’re certainly moving in the right direction. I think we’ve been more successful in these first nine months than Obama was in eight years.”

I don’t imagine anyone is foolish enough to believe Trump’s accomplishment-free record already surpasses Barack Obama’s successes, but what struck me as interesting about Sanders’ attempt at spin was the specific number she used: 1.7 million new jobs.

As regular readers probably know, I publish a monthly piece on jobs reports, and according to the most recent data, the United States has added 1.33 million new jobs this year. That’s not an awful number, but it is the lowest since 2010 for the first nine months of the year, and it’s hardly worth bragging about.

But if the actual number is 1.33 million, why did Sarah Huckabee Sanders say 1.7 million? Because the Trump White House has decided to take credit for some Obama-era jobs.

Look again at her exact wording: 1.7 million new jobs “since Donald Trump was elected.” In other words, the economic gains that occurred after Election Day, but before Trump took office, should somehow be credited to the Republican administration – because the White House says so.

It’s not just jobs, either. The president has repeatedly claimed credit – four  times  in  just the last week – for stock market gains since early November, rather than mid-January.

What we’re left with is a strange dynamic in which Trump keeps identifying Obama-era successes – on everything from national security to the economy – and claiming those accomplishments as his own.

Perhaps, if Trump had meaningful successes of his own, he wouldn’t have to take credit for others’ work?

Barack Obama and Donald Trump

White House takes credit for Obama-era jobs