By Dan Calabrese
Generally speaking we regard things like 4.1 percent GDP growth as data, also known as “facts.” Not matters of opinion. GDP growth of 4.1 percent is very strong. It’s a good thing.
But nothing can ever happen that reflects well on the policies of Donald Trump, so our friends in Reuterville have decided they need to explain to us that “the facts are more nuanced” or something.
The “fact check” genre of modern journalism has really fallen madly in love with itself, to the point where even the most obviously true statements must be nitpicked for the slightest point of contention. And of course, it’s tailor-made for a media that hates a certain president and is determined to paint him as wrongheaded whenever it gets a chance.
Still, how can you deny that the economy is strong when we just did 4.1 percent growth? This piece is something to behold, and it’s ultimately little more than a series of “yes, but” statements in response to obvious observations Trump makes. And even when the media can’t deny that what Trump says is true, they still try to make you think there’s something wrong with it. The most egregious example is here:
TRUMP: “In the first three months after tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back into the United States from overseas.”
FACT CHECK: Following a tax overhaul approved in December, U.S. companies brought back $305.6 billion from foreign subsidiaries in the first quarter of 2018, according to Commerce Department data.
Companies did expand their capital spending in the first quarter, but the biggest American companies spent far more on dividends and share buybacks, a sign that the cash they have on hand outstripped their investment opportunities. Apple Inc., for instance, lifted its capital spending to $4.2 billion from $3 billion a year earlier but also spent a record $23.5 billion buying back its stock and another $3.2 billion on dividends.
So first of all, they have to admit that Trump’s statement about the $300 billion coming back from overseas is true. There’s no way to deny it. It’s easily demonstrated., and it’s accurate. It really happened. But the media can’t just tell you Trump is right and let it go, so they have to go on to a semantic argument about how corporations are spending their money. This is when they start parroting the Nancy Pelosi line that companies are just spending the money on dividends and stock buybacks, and that this is terrible.
Now when you’re doing fact-checking, that’s irrelevant to the question of whether Trump’s statement is accurate. But also, the way they’re laying it out suggests they don’t really understand the movement of capital. If a company doesn’t want to invest cash in something like new equipment, expanded facilities or new employees – because it doesn’t need those things or just doesn’t think it can get a return on the investment – the best thing the company can do for the economy is to pay dividends or buy back stock. Why? Because the investors who get paid will find a way to invest the money. That’s what they do. It’s the best way to ensure capital keeps getting used productively.
When the economy is this good, it’s almost impossible for the media to portray it in a negative light, and they’re embarrassing themselves trying. But the alternative is to admit Trump’s policies are working, and they would rather die than do that.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!