Oct 29 2019

The Economy Stupid

Among other negative auguries for Republican prospects in 2020 is the fact that the economy is slowing down in critical areas. Already twice as much has been spent on mitigating the effects of a foolishly belligerent Trade Policy as were spent to prop up the Automakers during the Great Recession. The signature stimulus program, the $ Trillion Billionaire’s Tax Cut has produced no stimulus and the Manufacturing sector is contracting. Inverted Yield Curves are making Capital Investment for anything but speculation uncertain.

Worst of all as far as they’re concerned is it shows up as Lunch Bucket Issues that impact in a negative fashion the very voters they wish to court. Paul Waldman documents 2 stories that illustrate the problem.

Can Democrats take advantage of Trump’s most vivid broken promise?
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
October 29, 201

You’ll recall that during the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton caused a huge controversy when she said that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” despite the fact that she followed that by saying we “don’t want to forget” the people who “labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.”

Trump, in contrast, put on a helmet, did his pursed lips thing (which is how he imitates a blue-collar person) while pantomiming digging coal, and said, “For those miners, get ready because you’re going to be working your asses off.”

He wasn’t lying, not exactly. He really did want to revive coal. So when Robert Murray, the head of Murray Energy, literally walked into the Energy Department at the beginning of Trump’s tenure and gave them marching orders, an “action plan” to gut environmental regulations and prop up the coal industry, they dutifully followed it.

The problem was that Trump couldn’t stop the forces — primarily automation and competition from both renewables and natural gas — that have steadily eaten away at the coal industry. Today, there are only 53,000 coal miners left in America, or approximately the number of people who work for Texas Roadhouse restaurants.

So what will Trump leave America’s coal communities with? They won’t see the jobs come back, and there will be no plan to help those communities transition to a different kind of economy. But they will get dirtier land, air and water. Many now fear that as part of Murray Energy’s bankruptcy, the company will be looking to shed its pension and health care obligations to its retired workers.

Among the Trump administration’s aggressive deregulatory initiatives has been an attempt to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been led by Mick Mulvaney, just one of his many jobs. It was kind of like putting Al Capone in charge of the D.A.’s office; last year Mulvaney told a convention of bankers, “I won’t talk too much about regulation by enforcement, but the short version is we’re not doing it anymore.”

The CFPB is the bureau that regulates payday lenders, to make sure they aren’t exploiting people with few other options by charging them usurious interest rates and drowning them in loans they can’t repay. At least that used to be what the CFPB did.

If we step back and look at these two stories together, we see a picture of a president who made promises to struggling communities that he couldn’t possibly keep, then got into office and proceeded to screw over ordinary people by doing the bidding of corporations, particularly those that opened up their wallets for him.

That happens to be the critique at least some of the Democratic candidates for president are making of Trump, a critique that has the benefit of being true.

In 2016, Clinton told that kind of story only sporadically, in a campaign in which she seemed to never be sure just how to attack Trump. What she seemed not to realize is that as personally appalling as he is, this argument — that Trump is not just corrupt but corrupt in ways that advantage the wealthy and hurt everyone else — may be the most potent weapon against him.

And it’s one that works pretty much whenever Democrats use it. You don’t need to do a lot of explaining to convince voters that Republicans are the party of the wealthy and powerful, because that’s exactly what they are and have been for a long time. You just need to remind people. The Trump administration is only too happy to supply the evidence.