Trump says econ­omy at risk with Democrats

Prom­ises more ‘wins’ from GOP lead­er­ship

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER AND STEPHEN DINAN

The siz­zling econ­omy un­der­pins Pres­i­dent Trump’s fi­nal blitz for Repub­li­cans in the midterms, with dire warn­ings that the jobs boom and higher wages will slip away if Democrats seize Congress.

Mr. Trump en­joys the best first-term econ­omy in three decades with the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct grow­ing at a 3.5 per­cent an­nual rate last quar­ter, and Mr. Trump wants Repub­li­cans re­warded for it at the bal­lot box.

An­a­lysts agree, how­ever, that good times breed com­pla­cency among midterm vot­ers and that griev­ance, such as the burn­ing ha­tred har­bored by Mr. Trump’s op­po­nents on the left, is a stronger mo­ti­va­tor for turnout at the polls.

“We have made so much progress. We don’t want to give up that progress. We can’t al­low that to hap­pen,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Mur­phys­boro, Illi­nois. “Un­der Repub­li­can lead­er­ship, Amer­ica is boom­ing like never be­fore be­cause we are fi­nally put­ting Amer­ica first.”

The mes­sage took a back seat to the pres­i­dent’s somber call for unity and fortitude after a shoot­ing at a Pitts­burgh syn­a­gogue killed 11 Jewish wor­ship­pers.

The pres­i­dent con­sid­ered can­cel­ing the rally and an ear­lier event with young farm­ers in In­di­anapo­lis be­cause of the anti-Semitic at­tack but said he de­cided not to let an evil man dic­tate his sched­ule.

“We can’t make these sick, de­mented, evil peo­ple im­por­tant,” Mr. Trump told thou­sands of sup­port­ers at the rally in an airplane hangar at South­ern Illi­nois Air­port in Mur­phys­boro.

The rally aimed to boost Rep. Mike Bost, who is in a tight race to hold on to his seat and help Repub­li­cans re­tain their ma­jor­ity in the House.

At ev­ery stop, Mr. Trump touts the his­tor­i­cally low un­em­ploy­ment rate, ris­ing wages and resur­gence of man­u­fac­tur­ing, min­ing and steel in­dus­tries.

“More Amer­i­cans are work­ing to­day than at any point in the his­tory of our coun­try. How good is that as a sound bite?” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the Fu­ture Farm­ers of Amer­ica con­ven­tion in In­di­anapo­lis.

The strong econ­omy pro­vides a foun­da­tion in Mr. Trump’s stump speech for the rest of his pitch to keep Repub­li­cans in con­trol of Congress. It’s the first item men­tioned in a litany of “wins” that he prom­ises to keep de­liv­er­ing if Repub­li­cans turn out to vote Nov. 6.

Last week, he dropped ref­er­ences in his stump speech to the stock mar­ket and soar­ing 401(k) bal­ances after a mas­sive sell-off that erased all of this year’s gains in the Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age. The gov­ern­ment also re­ported that the fed­eral deficit is quickly soar­ing again and that the tax cuts and spend­ing in­creases that are likely fu­el­ing the econ­omy are set to cre­ate tril­lion-dol­lar deficits by the end of this decade.

But for now at least, Mr. Trump has the econ­omy on his side.

Real gross do­mes­tic prod­uct grew at an an­nu­al­ized rate of 3.5 per­cent in the last quar­ter, which ran from July through Septem­ber, the gov­ern­ment re­ported.

The last time a pres­i­dent had such a hot econ­omy head­ing into con­gres­sional elec­tions in his first term was in 1978, when Pres­i­dent Carter was sit­ting on a 4.1 per­cent growth rate.

The coun­try was in a re­ces­sion in 1982, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s first midterm elec­tions, and was grow­ing at a rate of less than 1 per­cent for Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush. Pres­i­dent Clin­ton man­aged a 2.4 per­cent rate, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush over­saw a weaker 1.8 per­cent rate and Pres­i­dent Obama had a solid 3 per­cent.

Mr. Trump took of­fice with the growth rate at 1.8 per­cent in his first quar­ter, but the econ­omy quickly heated up. He has since posted quar­terly growth num­bers of 3 per­cent, 2.8 per­cent, 2.3 per­cent, 2.2 per­cent, 4.2 per­cent and now 3.5 per­cent.

“These re­sults are no ac­ci­dent. This is what hap­pens when we pass poli­cies to help Amer­i­can con­sumers, work­ers and busi­nesses gen­er­ate eco­nomic growth and op­por­tu­nity,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can.

He and fel­low Repub­li­cans point to the stun­ningly low un­em­ploy­ment rate and high con­sumer con­fi­dence as other in­di­ca­tors of a strong econ­omy, but some con­ser­va­tives warned that the econ­omy should be per­form­ing bet­ter.

The Club for Growth, a free mar­ket po­lit­i­cal lobby group, ac­knowl­edged that growth was strong but said the econ­omy “has re­cently en­coun­tered some for­mi­da­ble head­winds.”

Josh Bivens, a re­search di­rec­tor at the Eco­nomic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, a lib­eral-lean­ing think tank, said the les­son of growth was that gov­ern­ment spend­ing can boost the econ­omy. He said the $300 bil­lion, two-year spend­ing in­crease Congress ap­proved this year is the big­gest in­fu­sion since the Obama stim­u­lus — and it is re­ver­ber­at­ing.

Still, in a piece, he blamed Repub­li­cans for a bad mix of poli­cies, say­ing their tax cuts weren’t help­ful but some good came out of the spend­ing.

“What this past year’s growth ac­cel­er­a­tion has made clear is that Congress and the pres­i­dent re­ally can use fis­cal pol­icy to pro­vide a very quick and sharp boost to the econ­omy — even when they’re be­ing mostly in­com­pe­tent about it,” he said. “We should in­sist in the fu­ture that this power be used when it’s good for typ­i­cal fam­i­lies, not just when it’s use­ful for beat­ing your po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.”

Strong GDP growth hasn’t been a magic elixir for pres­i­dents in midterm elec­tions.

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