Commentary

Politico Report Puts Spotlight on How Democrats Really Look at an Economic Turnaround

The topic liberals are dying to avoid is coming alive.

When the coronavirus crisis dropped a hammer on the booming U.S. economy of President Donald Trump’s administration, Democrats saw circumstances taking away one of the incumbent’s biggest weapons in the upcoming election.

Now, according to the D.C.-insider publication Politico, some top Democrats are worried even a partial economic recovery going into the fall could be a boost for Trump’s re-election bid.

The headline of the piece says it all: “The general election scenario that Democrats are dreading.”

The report kicks off with a scene-setter from an early April online meeting of a “top officials from both parties” where former Obama administration economist and current Harvard professor Jason Furman made a startling prediction.

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“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.

For most Americans, regardless of politics, that would be news worth cheering about. The coronavirus pandemic has knocked millions out of work, caused hardship for millions more who rely on those salaries, and put a squeeze on charities.

Who could think it was bad news that this might be about to change?

This telling paragraph in Politico’s report has an answer to that:

Do you think top Democrats are rooting against the economy to hurt President Trump?

“Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. ‘This is my big worry,’ said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, ‘It’s high — high, high, high, high.’”

Unfortunately, the report by Ryan Lizza, Politico’s chief Washington correspondent, and Daniel Lippman, a reporter on Politico’s White House beat, relies heavily on anonymous sources to make its point.

But in this case, it might be understandable. What political operative hoping to court American support wants to go on record rooting against an economic recovery that could only help his countrymen?

Another source quoted in the article, identified only as a “progressive Democratic operative,” noted polls show that even amid the current downturn, Trump is more trusted on the economy than former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate.

“Trump beats Biden on the economy even right now!” the operative said, according to Politico. “This is going to be extremely difficult no matter what. It’s existential that we figure it out. In any of these economic scenarios Democrats are going to have to win the argument that our public health and economy are much worse off because of Donald Trump’s failure of leadership.”

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Yeah, well that’s not going to be an easy argument to win. Mainly because it’s not true.

As literally anyone who’s followed the news for the past three years knows, the country during the Trump presidency have seen an economy booming, with record low unemployment that benefited all Americans, including the minority populations Democrats have taken advantage of for decades.

(It’s difficult to imagine what sort of damage the coronavirus might have caused to the U.S. if it hit an economy that was on its knees after three years of a Hillary Clinton presidency.)

Of course, the coronavirus crisis has set that economy back on its heels, but it’s done the same all over the world. Democrats trying to blame Trump for a black swan event like that are even more full of hot air than usual, and any sensible person would know it.

Not every Democrat quoted in the article remained nameless.

Kenneth Baer, a former Obama administration official who was associate director of communications with the Office of Management and Budget during Obama’s first term and is now CEO of the public relations firm Crosscut Strategies, acknowledged an economic recovery will redound to Trump’s benefit.

Even if he sounded grudging about it.

“In absolute terms, the economy will look historically terrible come November,” Baer told Politico. “But relative to the depths of April, it will be on an upswing — 12 percent unemployment, for example, is better than 20, but historically terrible. On Election Day, we Democrats need voters to ask themselves, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ Republicans need voters to ask themselves, ‘Are you better off than you were four months ago?’”

True enough. And all Americans should ask themselves if the country as a whole would have been better off under the statist, economy-killing, overregulated Obama regime that Hillary Clinton would have continued in the White House if she’d won the presidency in 2016.

They also need to ask themselves if the country needs Biden in the White House to revive that regime.

Meanwhile, Furman, the economist whose prediction of an economic rebound kicked off the Politico report, told the outlet that — barring an unexpected resurgence of coronavirus infections that close state economies again — he foresees a summer of recovery that will only benefit Trump.

As Politico put it: “Between now and Election Day, there will be five monthly jobs reports, which are released on the first Friday of every month. The June report, covering May, is likely to show another increase in unemployment. But after that, Furman predicts, if reopening continues apace, the next four reports could be blockbusters. ‘You could easily have 1 to 2 million jobs created a month in those four reports before November,’ he said.

“He added, ‘And then toward the end of October, we will get GDP growth for the third quarter, at an annualized rate, and it could be double-digit positive economic growth. So these will be the best jobs and growth numbers ever.’”

It’s important to point out that Politico is a normally liberal-leaning outfit — this isn’t a report from Breitbart News or a Tucker Carlson monologue on Fox News. One look at the Twitter thread of responses to the article shows how liberal its readership is. (Hint: Most didn’t like it one bit. But didn’t really argue the premise.)

That gives the message here even greater impact.

Voices on the left — from the Democratic National Committee to the biased mainstream media to the hideously uninformed late-night comics — will do anything to avoid saying that what’s bad news for the country is good news for the Democratic opposition to Trump. (HBO’s Bill Maher is one of the more honest exceptions to the rule — it doesn’t do him much credit.)

But they know the economy is Trump’s hole card — because the success of his tax-cutting, regulation-reducing administration in rebuilding American jobs has been so obvious even the mainstream media couldn’t cover it up.

Now a liberal news outlet has summed it up in one headline. An economic recovery every American should want to see is exactly the “general election scenario that Democrats are dreading.”

That says it all.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.
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