Donald Trump has presided over two economies during his time in office.
In the first, which lasted until March, the economy reached historic milestones for jobs, income and stock prices. While it’s debatable whether it was the best U.S. economy ever, as the president has said, it was without question good and getting better for millions of Americans.
The second part, which arrived with Covid-19, was historically bad. It sent unemployment to depths unseen in post-Depression records before reversing itself quickly but only partially, leaving the U.S. with an outlook that’s especially hard to forecast.
The two economies will be factors driving the choices voters make in November. The reality for Mr. Trump: Many achievements of his first economy have been wiped out by the second.
The president’s economic record never fully fit the black and white story told by either his ardent fans or his furious foes. His detractors said his tax policies catered to the rich, yet poverty and inequality fell. Minorities were big beneficiaries during his first three years, though they have also been big casualties in the past seven months.
His backers note that the growth rate accelerated as Mr. Trump said it would, but it didn’t speed up as much or in the ways he projected. Blue-collar towns reaped some of the revival his trade policy aimed for, but that revival was far from complete when it was set back by the pandemic.
A lesson that became clear after a health crisis knocked the economy off the rails: One of the best ways to advance broad-based prosperity is to keep an expansion going. Good things tend to happen, especially to those typically left behind, in the late stages of long expansions. The one that ended in March was the longest recorded in U.S. history, an