Comparing Trump and Biden's economies — who had more successful strategies?

The president's lush grounds grew greenest for the young, the less educated and people of color

At their rambunctious debate on September 29, former Vice President Joe Biden said this about President Donald J. Trump: “We handed him a booming economy. He blew it.”

Not so fast, Sleepy Joe.

In fact, rather than “booming,” Biden and Obama bequeathed President Trump an economy that resembled a dehydrated garden. It was alive, but drooping. Obama-Biden’s recovery from the Great Recession was the most parched since the Great Depression.

The president treated the garden with Trumponomics: He irrigated it with the GOP’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (which every congressional Democrat opposed). He fertilized it with robust deregulation that junked eight old rules for every new one imposed. And he serenaded it with a pro-enterprise tone.


Job creators welcomed Trump’s words of gratitude and encouragement rather than the threats, class-warfare hectoring, and success shaming of Barack “You didn’t build that!” Obama.

The result?

President Trump’s garden flourished. Companies budded, entrepreneurs bloomed, and workers blossomed – often reaching unprecedented heights. As late as February, the U.S. economy in winter recalled an arboretum in April.

  • In terms of household finances, Trumponomics parted Obama’s gray skies and let the sun shine. Census Bureau data released September 15 show that inflation-adjusted median household income increased from $64,324 in 2018 to a record $68,703 in 2019, up 6.8 percent. This extra $4,379 in the typical American home is the largest one-year hike in this key barometer of well-being.

During Trump’s first three years, this metric advanced from $59,039 in 2016 to $68,703 in 2019. This $9,664 represents a 16.4 percent income boost (5.5 percent per annum on average) for everyday Americans.

Obama’s final three years featured an analogous income increase from $51,939 in 2013 to $59,039 in 2016. This $7,100 lifted marginal incomes by 13.7 percent (4.6 percent annually).

Across Obama’s eight years including the recovery from the Great Recession, median household incomes rose from $50,303 in 2008 to $59,039 in 2016. This additional $8,736 buoyed incomes 17.4 percent (2.2 percent yearly).

  • The contrasts between Obama-Biden’s dusty yard and Trump’s lush grounds are starkest among those whom Leftists claim to champion most fervently: the young, the less educated, and people of color.
  • Under Obama-Biden, in the six years between 2010 and 2016, those under age 35 saw their median incomes rise 5.8 percent. Under Trump, in the three years between 2016 and 2019, incomes for under 35s expanded 13.4 percent — more than double Obama-Biden’s performance.
  • Those six years of Obama-Biden saw incomes for Americans without high-school degrees tick up 1.7 percent. Trump’s three years delivered high-school non-graduates a 9 percent income enhancement — more than quintuple Obama-Biden’s benefit, in half the time.
  • Real median income accelerated last year by 7.1 percent for Hispanics, 7.9 percent for blacks, and 10.6 percent for those of Asian descent. Among black Americans, such monies grew from $39,490 in 2016, under Obama-Biden, to $45,438 in 2019 under Trump-Pence — up 15 percent. These gains occurred while these communities enjoyed the lowest jobless rates in American history. Obama-Biden’s Black unemployment figure fell from 7.9 percent in December 2016 before hitting an all-time low of 5.4 percent in August 2019 on Trump-Pence’s watch.
  • Leftists who complained non-stop about “income inequality” have gone silent; their favorite adult toy is broken. Under their despised “Donald Trump,” the Gini Coefficient of income inequality crept up from 0.481 in 2016 to 0.489 in 2017. And then it fell in the next two consecutive years, to 0.486 in 2018 and 0.484 in 2019 — a 1.033 percent decrease in “unfairness.” 

But under the inequality-bashing Obama-Biden, Gini actually intensified from 0.466 in 2008 to 0.481 in 2016 — a 3.218 percent increase in “unfairness.” Here, again, Obama-Biden promised bouquets and delivered weeds.


Conversely, on Trump’s watch, the income gap has narrowed, largely in the manner that it should.

Consistent with free-market principles, Trumponomics has enriched the poor much more than it has impoverished the rich.

  • These achievements all shoved America’s poverty rate down, from 11.8 percent in 2018 to 10.5 percent in 2019 — the lowest level since federal estimates began in 1959. Trumponomics shattered this 60-year-old record and liberated 4.2 million Americans from poverty.
  • While the overall poverty rate tumbled 1.3 percent, it dropped 1.8 percent last year for Hispanics and 2.8 percent among those of Asian heritage. Thanks to a 2.0 percent decrease for Blacks (from 20.8 percent to 18.8 percent) the White House observed, “The Black poverty rate fell below 20 percent for the first time in history.” Obama-Biden’s 22 percent black-poverty figure in 2016 looks downright cruel compared to Trump-Pence’s 18.8 percent in 2019.
  • As Karl Marx frowns in Hell, Trumponomics is turning proletarians into capitalists. And the same for minorities and the less educated. Between 2016 and 2019, stock ownership among the lowest income quintile increased from 11.5 percent to 14.5 percent. Meanwhile business equity grew in those years by 63 percent among Hispanic entrepreneurs, 104 percent among high-school non-graduates, and 138 percent among Blacks.

In a development equally infuriating and tragic, the Chinese coronavirus swept like Dutch Elm Disease through Trump’s beautiful, very special garden. The unprecedented lockdown shuttered equipment, shrank plants, and shriveled dreams.

Luckily, as the economy reopens, florescence abounds:

  • February’s 3.5 percent unemployment rate shot to 14.7 in April and plummeted to 7.9 percent in September, far beyond the rosiest forecasts. Obama-Biden needed two years and two months to cut joblessness from 10.0 percent in October 2009 to 8.5 percent in December 2011. Trump outdid them in **one month,** from 10.2 in July to 8.4 in August. Even while hobbled by the China virus, President Trump’s economy has produced 11.4 million jobs — roughly half of those that these germs killed.
  • “The last time the unemployment rate fell this much following its peak occurred between 1982 and 1999 following the global oil crisis, requiring almost 18 years, five presidential terms, and three administrations,” according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. “The recovery the United States is witnessing now is almost 41 times faster than that.”
  • After looking as if they had been sprayed with Agent Orange, the financial markets now mirror a jungle. The Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 indices all have approached or exceeded their pre-COVID-19 peaks. This is spectacular news for Americans with 401Ks and IRAs.
  • The Consumer Confidence Index has rebounded from its April low of 71.8 to September’s 80.4. Business confidence has recovered from 98.2 in April to 100.7 in August.
  • The housing sector is climbing like ivy. May’s 3.9 million sales of existing homes jumped to 6 million in August. April’s 96,000 building permits hit 126,200 in August. April’s 934,000 housing starts stretched to 1,416,000 in August.

In short, Trumponomics is chlorophyll for jobs, goods, and services.

Voters now must choose between gardeners: The quiet, ponderous one who left the garden dry or the loud, impulsive one who made it grow, grow, grow.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a contributing editor with National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.