On the eve of the 2016 election, Donald Trump told business leaders in New York that the U.S. economy would grow a robust 3.5% per year if he were elected president and that the nation would add 25 million new jobs in a decade.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said in a speech from the White House streamed online by economic clubs around the country that the economy was the strongest on record before the coronavirus pandemic, again promising vigorous economic growth if he is given another four years in office. He also sought to stir up fear about what a victory by Joe Biden and other Democrats would mean for the U.S.

“The policies of the left would unleash an economic disaster of epic proportions,” Mr. Trump said, claiming that a Democratic win would lead to sharply higher taxes and “destroy our country.”

“We will go into depression,” the president said.

Less growth than advertised
Economists do not echo Mr. Trump’s prediction of doom. Last month, an economic forecast from Moody’s predicted that Biden’s economic plan would result in “more jobs, a stronger economy and higher incomes for the middle class” than Trump’s.

In fact, economic growth under Mr. Trump has fallen short of what he promised four years ago. Instead of rising 3.5% annually, the country’s gross domestic product in the first three years of his term has risen by an average of 2.6%. Battered by the fallout from COVID-19, employers also have cut 10.5 million jobs in the past six months. Even before the pandemic, however, annual job growth never reached 2.5 million and dropped by nearly 200,000 in 2019.

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