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Trump inherited the booming Obama economy and claims he created it



Some people, mainly Republicans, say that if the 2020 election cycle is about the economy, Trump wins (assuming he’s still in office and decides to run again).

This is a possibility, and it’s something Democrats would be wise to address. A strategic position is needed to counter Republican arguments for a Trump economy, and it’s not too early for Dems to come up with talking points now.

Economic theory is dense and boring for almost everybody, so these Democratic talking points have to be easy to comprehend. Three points suggest themselves.

One point is this: Although Trump takes credit for the stock market’s performance, the fact is that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been on a sharp upward streak since October, 2009, when Barack Obama had been president for ten months.

A picture is worth a thousand words: Trump can’t take responsibility for the booming stock market, because it began its upward momentum under President Obama. Another reason why Trump can’t take credit for the stock market—as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman points out—is that no actual laws affecting the markets were put into place until late December of last year, when the tax bill passed. The stock markets were performing via sheer momentum.

Trump also takes credit for job creation and a lowering of the unemployment rate. But once again, these trends started strongly under President Obama. This graphic, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

easily shows that unemployment peaked in late 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, and has been falling steadily at a consistent rate since then.

These above two points—the stock market and unemployment—will be two of the most important points Trump will make if he runs again; indeed, in tonight’s State of the Union, he will brag about them. Earlier this week, he tweeted, Our economy is better than it has been in many decades. Businesses are coming back to America like never before. Chrysler, as an example, is leaving Mexico and coming back to the USA. Unemployment is nearing record lows. We are on the right track!”

There’s a third point he will make that Democrats will have to deal with: the effect of his new tax law. Republicans will argue that the law unshackled corporations, leading to new job creation, new U.S. manufacturing and higher salaries for workers.

That’s a strong argument, one that hits Americans directly in their pocketbooks. How can Democrats counter it? Easily. Polls show that a sizable majority of Americans thinks the tax bill benefits billionaires, not ordinary people. One such, the fairly conservative Quinnipiac Poll, showed 53% opposed to the law, with only 29% in favor. Another poll, from Monmouth, shows 47% opposed and only 26% approving. And, just yesterday, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that just “two percent of U.S. adults said they had gotten a raise, bonus or other additional benefits due to the Republican tax law…”.

Republicans will claim that it’s too soon for the new law to have kicked in. Maybe so, but by late summer, the law will have had eight months, and I have no doubt there will be lots of evidence suggesting that American workers are still waiting for those raises, bonuses and new benefits that Trump promised them. The Democratic mantra should be repeated early and often: The Trump tax cuts are for billionaires.

So there they are, three powerful talking points for Democrats, easy to understand. If Dems can advance them persuasively, they’ll retake both Houses of Congress in November, and Trump doesn’t have a prayer for 2020.

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