Monday, December 11, 2017

Economy, Not #MeToo, Will Decide 2018 & 2020

As much as it pains and disgusts me to acknowledge it, the elections of 2018 and 2020 will not be tipped by the revulsion to sexual predators generated by the #MeToo movement. To be sure, the reaction to sexual harassment will introduce the electorate to more female candidates, but their success will largely depend on the state of the economy of the individual household rather than on the abstract level of the stock market or the unemployment rate, the latter superceded by the growth, decline or stagnation in real wages, the former being mostly a measure important to those lucky enough to have a retirement fund linked to Wall Street investments.

As I write this, it is less than 24 hours from the verdict Alabama voters will provide on whether their state has the backward values ascribed to them by Eastern and Western establishment liberals by voting in an alleged pedophile as their next junior U.S. senator, or if they will provide a solid rebuke to an administration and Republican Party that has abandoned principle in favor of grabbing power for power’s sake. 

Donald Trump is taking a victory lap for the state of the economy during his first year in office. Too bad he is dissembling and claiming credit for a recovering economy Barack Obama set in motion.

It is generally recognized that the economy during the first year of a new presidency is reflective of the prior administration’s handling of fiscal matters. Obama, for example, had to deal with the recession he inherited from George W. Bush. Unemployment kept rising during his first year as president. But the last seven years of his presidency saw economic growth, which has continued into the first year of Trump.

Trump can aptly claim a reduced regulatory environment as his cabinet and agency heads dismantle protections. Wall Street, which cares not about the long term impact of fewer immigrants to fuel farms, manufacturing and high-tech industries, and is indifferent to lower environmental and worker protections, is at an all-time high. 

But the true test of Trump’s reforms will come later, as most voters will find their taxes are not lower, especially compared to the whopping reductions the super rich will receive. Their real income will not go up, as business leaders will not flow their companies’ reduced taxes into higher wages. And industries Trump said would rebound, such as coal and construction, will not bounce back. 

The other day the Associated Press fact-checked Trump’s claims during a stump speech in Florida. His dissembling is historic.

The ironic thing is that Trump blasts the media when mistakes are made. He is right to demand accuracy. But he wants reporters who make mistakes to be fired. Imagine if he abided by his own standard.