Typically, sitting politicians try to prevent the public from developing unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve. After all, the closer one can “set the goalposts,” the better one’s odds of putting the (metaphorical) pigskin through the (figurative) uprights. Get too ambitious in your promises, and you could suffer a devastating miss (see: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it”).
But Donald Trump is no typical politician. And so, when the Commerce Department revealed Friday that the U.S. economy had grown 4.1 percent last quarter, the president did not respond by cautiously tempering expectations for future growth. Instead, Trump assured Sean Hannity that the economy is “going to get better”; that he will cut the trade deficit in half; deliver 8-to-9 percent GDP growth; and turn the projected $1 trillion budget deficit into a surplus.
“The economy, we can go a lot higher,” the president told Hannity in a surprise radio interview Friday afternoon. “We have $21 trillion in debt. When this really kicks in we’ll start paying off that debt like water.”
Conventional wisdom suggests that it is politically unwise for a president to promise a historically unprecedented (and nigh-mathematically impossible) economic boom. But when one remembers that Trump is perfectly capable of claiming credit for things that did not actually happen, his gambit starts to make a bit more sense.