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White House touts economic growth, downplays success of Obama policies

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Wednesday in Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri/AP photo via Courthouse News)

(CN) – The White House touted what it called unexpected economic growth in a new report Thursday, as officials brushed aside the idea that the Obama administration should be given credit for the longest expansion on record.

According to the 435-page economic report of the president, the U.S. has had a lower unemployment rate, added more jobs, and had swifter economic growth than projections made in a 2016 Congressional Budget Office report.

The International Monetary Fund projected 2019 would see the lowest worldwide growth rate since the last recession, as noted in the White House report.

“Amid this global slowdown, the U.S. economy has performed largely as projected by the IMF in October 2018, growing faster than any other G7 country in the first three quarters of 2019,” the report states.

Tomas Philipson, acting chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters on Thursday that the current economy is not a continuation of expansion that occurred under President Barack Obama’s administration following the Great Recession, despite evidence that the economy continues to follow a path paved in 2009.

“The overall evidence of the report as we see it is that three years into the Trump administration the U.S. economy continues to outperform pre-2016 election expectations,” Philipson said.

In a statement accompanying the report, White House economist said a major factor for recent economic growth is the Trump administration’s “regulatory reform agenda.”

A global outlook report from the IMF in October 2019 said that, for the U.S., “trade -related uncertainty” has resulted in negative effects on investment, but that employment continues to be robust. A more recent report said risks to the American economy include geopolitical tensions and worsening relations with trading partners.

“A materialization of these risks could lead to rapidly deteriorating sentiment, causing global growth to fall below the projected baseline,” the January report states.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that the $1.5 trillion cuts he signed into law in late 2017 would result in annual economic growth of 3%, but that has yet to happen. The Commerce Department reported last month that the gross domestic product grew by 2.3% in 2019, compared to 2.9% in 2018 and 2.4% in 2017.

Thursday’s report notes that the unemployment rate hit a 50-year low in 2019. The economy entered its 11th consecutive year of growth last summer, the longest streak on record.

In 2009, Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package into law, garnering praise from Democrats and skepticisms from many Republicans who expressed concern about the cost of the effort.

“Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history,” Obama tweeted Monday.

Trump fired back, tweeting, “Did you hear the latest con job? President Obama is now trying to take credit for the Economic Boom taking place under the Trump Administration. He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers.”