The impact of his chief legislative achievement — a big tax-cut bill heavily focused on corporations — is now moot after mostly delivering stock buybacks and dividend payments rather than a boom in corporate investment. Perhaps the big increase in corporate investment would have eventually materialized. But now we will never know.
Economic growth is dropping off a cliff, with estimates for a first-quarter decline of around 4 percent and a second-quarter plunge of 25 percent or more. Stocks have crashed around 30 percent since setting record highs in February. Oil prices are tanking, which means cheap gas but also a massive hit to the energy sector, slamming red states the hardest and undermining Trump’s boast of America’s energy dominance.
Trump will head into reelection as the economy struggles to dig out of a deep recession that some economists fear could become a depression. The pieces are in place for Trump to wind up like Herbert Hoover, who saw his presidency destroyed by the Depression and his response. Trump’s challenge will be to quickly reverse that impression by rallying Republicans to enact even more deficit-fueled spending and social programs, forcing the president to appear more like Franklin D. Roosevelt and less like the smaller-government conservatives who helped fuel his rise to the White House.