While Donald Trump is by now used to being fact-checked as quickly as possible by the news media after he delivers his falsehood-laden speeches at the pep rallies he holds for his true believers, perhaps the president was expecting a less skeptical reaction to his comments in the cozy confines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland surrounded by wealthy business leaders, world leaders, and economic experts.
Trump began his speech in Davos by taking credit for everything short of the sun rising pic.twitter.com/UpyHVXxAW0
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 21, 2020
Yet shortly after Trump gave his somnambulistic speech bragging about his stewardship of the American economy at what amounts to the Super Bowl of international financial leaders, a Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, was handing out a typed rebuttal fact-checking the president’s boastful claims to any conference attendee who would take it.
— Sheridan Prasso (@SheridanAsia) January 21, 2020
Contradicting Trump’s rosy portrayal of the economic effects of his policies on the American financial system, Stiglitz used the facts based on government statistics to give a more realistic picture of the economy as experienced by the average U.S. citizen.
While the president bragged about the 2.6% increase in real median weekly earnings since he took office, Stiglitz pointed out the inconvenient reality that the median wage of a full-time male worker is still 3% less than what it was 40 years ago according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Nobel laureate also cited the negative rate of business investment, a less than stellar growth rate in the nation’s gross domestic product compared to President Obama’s second term, and the soaring levels of the trade deficit and the national debt after Trump’s billionaire tax cuts.
Stiglitz was even more critical of the effects of Trump’s fiscal policies on income inequality, noting that for all of the president’s talk of record-low unemployment, 44% of U.S. workers are working in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of just $18,000 per year, according to the Brookings Institute.
He also cited figures from the Tax Policy Center that show how when the Republican tax plan is fully implemented over the next seven years, the supposed tax cut will result in increased taxes for 70% of the dwindling number of middle-income families.
While Trump supporters will likely denigrate Stiglitz’s rebuttal of the president’s self-aggrandizing Davos address — an address derided by some attendees as a preelection campaign speech — as the ravings of a biased and cloistered leftist academic with little practical experience in managing an economy, it’s worth pointing out that the Columbia University professor is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and was chairman of the U.S. president’s Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton.
Stiglitz’s rebuttal of Trump’s speech wasn’t the only negative reaction that the president received from attendees and observers at Davos. A quick perusal of Twitter uncovered a host of other critiques of Trump’s appearance.
„Trump is the enemy… (his) speech was the worst I‘ve ever heard in my entire life“ – The stunned german green party leader Robert Habeck comments the @realDonaldTrump appearance in #Davos / Interview: @KEigendorf @ZDF https://t.co/zYOoRILnvR
— Felix Kasten (@sptvmag) January 21, 2020
This is telling:
Pretty much every other leader at #Davos came to talk about cooperation and addressing climate change.
Trump is talking about how great his economy is. He's talking solely about America and himself.#WEF50
— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) January 21, 2020
— Larry (Lars) Chaffin (@LarryChaffinCEO) January 21, 2020
Every time Trump goes abroad (he’s now at Davos), he commits gaffes that leave other world leaders shaking their heads and laughing at him. “We need a President who isn’t a laughingstock to the entire World,” Trump tweeted in 2014. He isn’t that leader.https://t.co/H6JQvcTaLr
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) January 21, 2020
Internet Speculates About Trump’s Health After He’s Seen Clutching Podium During Davos Speech https://t.co/SVb4csekWK
— #TuckFrump (@realTuckFrumper) January 21, 2020
With his billionaire friends in Davos, Trump claims "America's extraordinary prosperity."
Meanwhile, income and wealth inequality explodes, half our people live paycheck to paycheck, and more than 500,000 are homeless.
We need "extraordinary prosperity" for workers, not the 1%.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 21, 2020
Hopefully, while Trump is hobnobbing with the oligarchs at Davos, the Senate will overcome the plans by Republican leadership to railroad an acquittal of the president in his impeachment trial and the American people will never have to suffer the embarrasment of being represented by a habitual liar and accused war criminal at an international forum again.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.