Bad eco­nomic num­bers only add to Trump’s trou­bles

The Saline Courier Weekend - - OPINION - DON­ALD LAMBRO

Pres­i­dent Trump nears the end of his third year in of­fice fac­ing dis­mal job ap­proval polls and the threat of im­peach­ment by the Demo­cratic House.

A top Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of­fi­cial who lis­tened in on Trump’s con­ver­sa­tion with the pres­i­dent of Ukraine, has tes­ti­fied that Trump wanted Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­sky to in­ves­ti­gate one of his po­lit­i­cal ri­vals.

It was the first cor­rob­o­ra­tion of a whistle­blower who first learned about Trump’s scheme to get a for­eign coun­try to dig up po­lit­i­cal dirt on for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den and his son -- a coun­try in­vaded by Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia, which seized its Crimean penin­sula, and still threat­ens its sur­vival.

Trump’s lat­est job ap­proval polls al­ready weren’t any­thing to write home about, but the com­bi­na­tion of this lat­est scan­dal and weak­nesses in the U.S. econ­omy have made mat­ters worse.

Real Clear Pol­i­tics, the poll-mon­i­tor­ing web­site that com­putes the av­er­age of all U.S. po­lit­i­cal polls, re­ports that 53.6 per­cent of Amer­i­cans now dis­ap­prove of the job Trump is do­ing as pres­i­dent, com­pared to 42.8 per­cent who say they ap­prove.

The lat­est mess Trump has got­ten him­self into couldn’t have come at a worse time for the per­pet­u­ally em­bat­tled pres­i­dent.

He had man­aged to squirm him­self out of pre­vi­ous trou­bles by call­ing other charges of wrong­do­ing “a pack of lies.” But this time, his ac­cuser is a com­bat war hero, and a Pur­ple Heart re­cip­i­ent with an im­pec­ca­ble ca­reer record, who saw wrong­do­ing and re­ported it im­me­di­ately to his su­pe­ri­ors.

“Trump and his al­lies on TV lashed out at Lt. Col. Alexan­der Vind­man, who said his con­cerns about what he heard in Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Ze­len­sky drove him to no­tify his su­pe­ri­ors,” the Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Wed­nes­day.

“Trump dis­missed Vind­man as a ‘Never Trumper,’ while some of his al­lies ques­tioned the pa­tri­o­tism of the Army com­bat vet­eran be­cause his fam­ily em­i­grated from the Soviet Union when he was 3,” the Post said.

But other Re­pub­li­cans jumped to Vind­man’s de­fense. “We’re talk­ing about dec­o­rated vet­er­ans who have served this na­tion, who have put their lives on the line,” said Rep. Liz Cheney of Wy­oming. “It’s shame­ful to question their pa­tri­o­tism, their love of this na­tion,” the Post re­ported.

Vind­man, a Ukraine expert on the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, re­ceived a

Pur­ple Heart af­ter be­ing wounded by a road­side bomb in Iraq.

But there were many other prob­lem­atic is­sues swirling about Trump’s pres­i­dency, in­clud­ing the econ­omy and a gov­ern­ment plung­ing ever more deeply into debt. Among them:

The Com­merce Depart­ment an­nounced Wed­nes­day that the U.S. econ­omy grew at a snail’s-pace 1.9% an­nu­al­ized rate be­tween July and Septem­ber, far be­low the 3% rate the White House pro­jected af­ter en­act­ment of the 2017 tax cuts.

Or­ders for U.S. cap­i­tal goods fell “more than ex­pected” in Septem­ber, the lat­est sign that Trump’s trade tar­iffs are hurt­ing the econ­omy.

U.S. ex­ports dropped 3% from the pre­vi­ous year, the low­est in a year and a half, while cap­i­tal goods or­ders, ex­clud­ing air­craft, fell 0.5% last month.

Reuters also re­ported this week that the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, which com­prises 11% of the U.S. econ­omy has been weak­ened by Trump’s trade war with our trad­ing part­ners, un­der­min­ing the U.S. econ­omy.

Mean­time, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been bal­loon­ing the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get deficit like there’s no to­mor­row.

The U.S. Trea­sury re­ported last week that the bud­get deficit ex­ploded by nearly $1 tril­lion this year, or by $984 bil­lion to be pre­cise.

Trump promised to elim­i­nate the fed­eral debt in eight years, but it turns out the deficit has grown by 50% un­der the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The gov­ern­ment shelled out about $380 bil­lion in in­ter­est pay­ments on its debt last year, and it ap­pears that this ad­min­is­tra­tion has made lit­tle progress to re­duce the red ink in its yearly bud­get.

“This is the first time in our his­tory that we are see­ing a boom in the econ­omy at the same time deficits are rapidly ris­ing. It’s alarm­ing,” said Marc Golden, se­nior pol­icy di­rec­tor at the Com­mit­tee for a Re­spon­si­ble Fed­eral Bud­get.

When the debt hit $16.7 tril­lion un­der Pres­i­dent Obama in 2013, Trump called it “the most prof­li­gate debt in our na­tion’s his­tory.”

Trump’s debt is now over $22 tril­lion and climb­ing.

Don­ald Lambro has been cov­er­ing Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics for more than 50 years as a re­porter, ed­i­tor and com­men­ta­tor.

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