Progressive Experts Rebut Trump’s False Claims About Shared Prosperity

In his state of the union address, the president made a poor attempt to conceal the continued rise in economic inequality under his administration.

By Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo

In President Trump’s State of the Union address, he claimed to have made great strides in reducing inequality. “We are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society,” Trump boasted, “one where every citizen can join in America’s unparalleled success, and where every community can take part in America’s extraordinary rise.”

That was just the beginning of a long litany of unfounded claims about the strength of the U.S. economy under his presidency. Progressive economists and scholars were quick to dismantle some of the bigger assertions in a statement pulled together by the Progressive Caucus Action Fund.

Felicia Wong, President and CEO of Roosevelt Forward, questioned whether we are really witnessing a great economic success “when corporate profits and CEO pay have far outpaced wage growth in the US; when inequality is a central fact of American society; and when too many of us — especially Black and brown Americans — are just one emergency away from financial collapse.”

“Corporate profits are not the economy,” Wong pointed out. “Shareholder wealth is not the economy. True economic health can only be measured by the health and well-being of America’s workers, families, and communities—all of which are hurt by a Trump economy that prioritizes tax cuts for the rich.”

Frank Clemente, Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness, noted that Trump barely mentioned his 2017 tax cut law. This, Clemente argues, “means he didn’t have much good to say about them. Neither do most Americans based on public polling, unless you’re rich or a corporate CEO.”

Trump crowed that “[s]ince my election, United States stock markets have soared 70 percent.”

Mark Huelsman, Associate Director of Policy & Research at Demos, pushed back against Trump’s boasting about the stock market gains since his election. “Only half of Americans have any exposure to the stock market,” Huelsman points out. “And over 84 percent of all stock is held by the top 10 percent.”

Likewise, Michael Linden, Executive Director of the Groundwork Collaborative, stated that “the real measure of an economy is if it’s working well for all people, not just the wealthy and well-connected … calling it a boom will come as a real surprise to the many who are struggling.”