Thursday, June 25, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He considered the lobster, and then lied about it.

Thursday is the day that unemployment numbers are released, and once again, they were catastrophically bad. Another 1.48 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims in the past week. For the second consecutive day, new COVID-19 cases set a record, with almost 40,000 new diagnoses by 8 p.m EDT. 

Trump, for his part, began the day focused on lobsters. He tweeted, "It was my great honor to free up 5000 square miles of ocean off the coast of Maine. Enjoy!" This followed on from a tweet he sent Wednesday evening:

Pres. Obama destroyed the lobster and fishing industry in Maine. Now it’s back, bigger and better than anyone ever thought possible. Enjoy your “lobstering” and fishing! Make lots of money!

As Maine newspapers and lobster boat captains alike pointed out, even on this highly specific topic, pretty much everything Trump said on the subject was a self-serving lie. What Trump recently "freed up" to lobstering was "off the coast of Maine" in roughly the same sense that Texas is off the coast of Alabama. And as it's much closer to Massachusetts, it's not a place Maine lobster boats typically go.

Also, the area Trump "freed up" is already open to lobster boats. Trump's order canceled a planned phase-out of lobstering in the Northeast Canyon and Seamounts Marine National Monument—a marine sanctuary—that was scheduled to happen in 2023.

As for Trump's claims about President Obama "destroying" the Maine lobster industry, exactly the opposite is true. The value of Maine's lobster harvest exploded under Obama, rising from about $300 million in 2009 to over $700 million in 2016. The next year, under Trump, the value of the harvest dropped more than $100 million, and has not yet fully recovered. 

Source: Maine Department of Marine Resources

As Maine's governor noted, the main economic threat to the state's fishing industry is Trump's trade wars. All Trump did yesterday was to authorize another taxpayer-funded bailout to offset the damage that increased tariffs have done.

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents who actually accomplish things that help the country don't need to lie about them.
  • It's wrong to take credit for things you didn't do.