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At the Democratic presidential debate earlier this week in Iowa, several of the candidates made it clear they were ready to take on President Donald Trump regarding America’s economy.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, declared, “I am ready to take on this president on the economy, because I am from the exact kind of industrial Midwestern community that he pretends to speak to and has proven to turn his back on — and guided that community through a historic transformation.”
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer, meanwhile, said the president was a phony when it came to economic issues.
“Whoever is going to beat Mr. Trump is going to have to beat him on the economy, and I have the experience and the expertise to show he’s a fake there and a fraud,” Steyer said. “Look, Mayor Pete has three years as an analyst at McKinsey. I have 30 years of international business experience. I can beat Trump on the economy.”
And, in a moment which should have evoked laughter in any other forum, former Vice President Joe Biden also said he could take Trump down based on the economy.
“With regard to the economy, I can hardly wait to have that debate with him. Where I come from, the neighborhoods I come from, they’re in real trouble — working-class people, middle-class people,” Biden said.
“I’d love that debate because the American public is getting clobbered. The wealthy are the only ones doing well — period.”
The reason that should have evoked laughter, for those of you who’ve already forgotten the history of the late aughts and early tens, is how the economy was doing under the Obama administration.
If you’ve forgotten that, you’ve also likely forgotten the what the economy’s looked like for the last 40 years.
That’s why Fox Business host Deirdre Bolton said Thursday on Fox Nation’s “Deep Dive” that there’s one chart the Trump administration should be plastering “absolutely everywhere.”
It’s the one thing that Democrats are loath to admit: Things are actually pretty copacetic, economy-wise, under the current administration.
The chart in question shows the average unemployment rate for the first 35 months of a president’s term.
The highest average rate during the first 35 months of a term was 9.3 percent under Barack Obama.
While this is somewhat to be expected — Obama took office in the midst of the Great Recession, after all — it doesn’t erase the fact his administration didn’t do much about it for the first few years.
The next-highest average unemployment rate during the first 35 months of a term was under Ronald Reagan, who took over while the malaise hangover from the Jimmy Carter years was still in effect.
A worldwide economic slowdown in the early 1980s didn’t help, and while the United States managed to get out of the doldrums pretty early, that still led to a 9 percent average unemployment rate.
Overall, the lowest rate among non-Trump presidents was under George W. Bush, who managed a 5.5 average unemployment rate despite 9/11 and the economic downturn in its wake.
During the first 35 months of Donald Trump term?
A historically low 3.9 percent average unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“If I were the Trump campaign, I would just be plastering that absolutely everywhere,” Bolton said.
And it’s not just the 1 percent, either.
As Fox Business host Charles Payne pointed out, workers’ wages are going up faster than the wages of those above them.
“The first time it happened was September of 2018,” Payne said.
“And it’s happened every single month, except one, where blue-collar workers’, not supervisory workers’, wages have grown faster than their supervisors’. It’s amazing.”
James Freeman, an editor with The Wall Street Journal, said this meant the Democrats would need a new line if they’re going to win in 2020.
“There needs to be, I think, a new Democratic economic message,” he said.
“They’re basically giving the same talking points from 2015 and 2016, when we talk about the average person’s wages are stagnating and the middle class doesn’t have the same opportunity.”
This all coincided with a Thursday report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia which showed rebounding numbers for slumping industrial production in the mid-Atlantic region.
“Fourty-four percent of firms questioned in the Philadelphia Fed’s survey said they were seeing increased demand for their products, while 30.5 percent reported falling demand,” Fox News reported.
“Of the businesses reporting higher demand, 25 percent said they were going to hire more workers and 33 percent said that they were going to increase hours.”
“For the first time in 26 years, according to census, and [BLS] data, we have seen income gains in all Metropolitan areas,” Fox Business host Elizabeth MacDonald said.
“Now, we’ve also seen 45 states seeing their state tax revenue back before pre-recession levels, according to Pew Charitable Trusts.”
“So are people buying the 2020 Democrats’ doom and gloom?”
Well, Biden, Buttigieg and Steyer are — and they want you to believe they can do a better job of handling the economy for the average American, even though the average American is doing much better under the Trump administration than they ever were under Obama, or, really, any president in recent memory.
If the Trump campaign wanted to decimate whoever the Democratic candidate is, this chart would be what they’d plaster everywhere — simply because no one in the field has an answer to it.
And remember, Trump was supposed to destroy the economy.
First it was that he was unhinged and inexperienced.
Then it was that trade wars would decimate us.
Then it was that a recession was just around the corner, talk that curiously seemed to disappear about the same time impeachment kicked into high gear.
Now it’s that Trump’s economic proposals have solely benefited the rich.
None of that is true.
Unemployment is low, the stock market and GDP are high, and economic indicators are good.
That’s going to be difficult for the Democrats to counter with the tired old lines about impending economic doom.