Trump’s triumphant tweet about the economy and the country’s GDP has one major downfall, says Kevin Hassett, one of Trump’s top economic advisers: It’s wrong.
“The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!” Trump exclaimed in a tweet Monday morning.
Publications started calling it out as incorrect almost as soon as he made the grandiose claim. It didn’t take long for Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, to intervene and correct the record. At the White House briefing later Monday, the adviser acknowledged that Trump’s "for the first time in over 100 years" assertion was “just not true.” In fact, it was off by about 90 years.
But Hassett took pains not to blame his boss for the gaffe.
“The history of thought about how the error happened is not something that I can engage in because from the initial fact to what the president said, I don't know the whole chain of command,” Hassett said. “But what is true is that it’s the highest in 10 years, and at some point, somebody probably conveyed it to him adding a zero to that, and they shouldn’t have done that.”
According to Bloomberg News, in the 70 years that the Labor Department has published monthly jobless numbers, the growth rate has been higher than the unemployment level more than 20 percent of the time. “I can say that at least we numbers geeks here at the White House, when the press finds mistakes that we make, we don't like making mistakes, but we’re grateful when they’re pointed out because we want to correct them,” Hassett said, contrasting Trump’s repeated rants that the the media is the enemy of the people.
Trump’s Twitter habit was brought up multiple times while Hassett’s was at the podium at Monday’s White House briefing. When reporters asked him if a quote Trump tweeted and attributed to former President Obama was accurate or not, Hassett responded: “I don’t know. I’m not chairman of the Counsel of Twitter Advisers.”
Cover image: Trump economic adviser Kevin Hassett gestures as he speaks during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C, September 10, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque