The one is­sue that could re­elect Trump It’s the econ­omy, stupid, and the boom is on

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Monica Crow­ley

It’s the econ­omy, stupid. In fact, when it comes to pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, it’s al­ways the econ­omy, stupid. Rel­a­tive eco­nomic strength or weak­ness is per­haps the best gauge of whether an in­cum­bent pres­i­dent is re-elected or falls to a chal­lenger promis­ing a “change” to greener fu­ture pas­tures. By this mea­sure, Pres­i­dent Trump looks in fine shape head­ing into the 2020 cam­paign. And now that the spe­cial coun­sel’s re­port is in, dash­ing his en­e­mies’ im­peach­ment hopes, they are wish­ing des­per­ately for some­thing else that might crip­ple his re-elec­tion chances: a cra­ter­ing econ­omy.

Noth­ing de­fines anti-Trump hys­te­ria like their manic root­ing against Amer­ica.

This is why most of them were thun­der­struck by the news that in the first quar­ter of 2019, the econ­omy ex­panded at a breath­tak­ing 3.2 per­cent. An­a­lysts had ex­pected a still-healthy but lower rate of 2.5 per­cent. The as­ton­ish­ing num­ber re­flected gal­lop­ing growth across the board: in wages, the la­bor mar­ket, the stock mar­ket and ex­ports.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate is at its low­est point in a half-cen­tury, and among in­di­vid­ual groups such as African-Amer­i­cans, His­pan­ics and women, the job­less rate is at or close to his­toric lows. The Trump econ­omy has cre­ated more than 5 mil­lion jobs, many of them in the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. It wasn’t that long ago that Pres­i­dent Obama de­clared those jobs — and the over­all man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor — dead and buried, never to arise again.

The coun­try is en­joy­ing a flour­ish­ing econ­omy built on a re­vival of free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics, lower taxes, dereg­u­la­tion, the open­ing of the en­ergy sec­tor and trade re­form. And Mr. Trump had been de­liv­er­ing these re­mark­able re­sults while un­der the cloud of the spe­cial voun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Now that he — and the na­tion — are free of it, the eco­nomic dy­namism may well ac­cel­er­ate.

And that, in turn, will make the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ at­tempts to beat him even more of an up­hill fight.

What are they go­ing to run on? “Change?” Change from what? A booming econ­omy, from which the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans are tan­gi­bly ben­e­fit­ing? Change from hav­ing more of their own money in their pock­ets? Change from be­ing able to restart their own Amer­i­can dreams? Change from the pro­found sense of op­ti­mism they’re now feel­ing?

Good luck with that, Bernie, Joe, Ka­mala, Liz and Pete.

The 2020 Democrats know that run­ning against the Trump eco­nomic agenda is a los­ing propo­si­tion. Their ar­gu­ments about in­come in­equal­ity, Medi­care for all, the Green New Deal, in­creas­ing the min­i­mum wage, col­lege loan for­give­ness and other so­cial­ist clap­trap will be largely dis­re­garded as so much left-wing noise. In a weak econ­omy, those pro­gres­sive castles in the air might have res­o­nance. In a strong econ­omy, those who spout them might as well be spit­ting into the wind.

Mr. Trump will con­stantly re­mind voters that not a sin­gle Demo­crat voted for the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, which cut in­di­vid­ual rates and slashed the cor­po­rate rate (which old-school Democrats from Bill Clin­ton to Barack Obama once sup­ported). They tried des­per­ately to stop it, be­cause they knew that it was go­ing to power eco­nomic growth — which, while good for the Amer­i­can peo­ple, is bad news for them.

Even be­fore its pas­sage, the econ­omy was al­ready hum­ming, thanks to Mr. Trump’s sweep­ing dereg­u­la­tion ef­forts, dis­man­tling of Oba­macare and move­ment on en­ergy and trade. Now, with the tax cuts fully in ef­fect and the Mueller re­port in the rearview mir­ror, we might ex­pect con­sis­tent stretches of 3 per­cent-plus eco­nomic growth.

Even the most vir­u­lent anti-Trumpers are agog at the eco­nomic news. The New York Times has ad­mit­ted that the tax cuts have ben­e­fited vast num­bers of Amer­i­cans and that the “Trump ef­fect” has cre­ated a “wave of op­ti­mism.”

A pow­er­house econ­omy leaves Demo­cratic chal­lengers with noth­ing but warmed-over an­tiTrump palaver on which to run. Pres­i­dents with weak economies — or chal­lengers stuck try­ing to con­vince in­creas­ingly pros­per­ous Amer­i­cans to switch pres­i­dents in mid­stream — usu­ally meet a grue­some po­lit­i­cal end.

As I’ve writ­ten about pre­vi­ously, pre-Water­gate Pres­i­dent Nixon had a shaky econ­omy, driven in large part by the oil shocks of the early 1970s. It’s un­know­able if a strong econ­omy could have res­cued him, but a slug­gish one cer­tainly has­tened his de­par­ture.

His­toric tax re­form and thor­ough-go­ing dereg­u­la­tion

Mr. Trump will con­stantly re­mind voters that not a sin­gle Demo­crat voted for the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, which cut in­di­vid­ual rates and slashed the cor­po­rate rate.

gave Pres­i­dent Rea­gan a booming econ­omy and a de­fen­sive shield when the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal hit.

On the flip side, when Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush broke his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, the econ­omy went south along with his re-elec­tion hopes.

Pres­i­dent Clin­ton sur­vived the Monica Lewin­sky scan­dal in large part be­cause he rode a ro­bust econ­omy cour­tesy of the In­ter­net bub­ble (which later burst). Mr. Trump knows these lessons of his­tory — as do the Democrats. A dy­namic econ­omy cre­ates elec­toral momentum for a pres­i­dent re­spon­si­ble for the new pros­per­ity. Mr. Trump’s suc­cess has al­ready made it far more dif­fi­cult for his op­po­nents to ad­vance their ex­is­ten­tial war against him and their left­ist agenda.

The ex­tra­or­di­nary eco­nomic boom is the re-elec­tion. If it con­tin­ues apace, one by one the Demo­cratic can­di­dates will float into ir­rel­e­vancy, and Mr. Trump will as­ton­ish the world all over again. Monica Crow­ley is a colum­nist for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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