Issues & Insights

Impeachment Aside, Trump Just Had A Great Week

I&I Editorial

If their only intent was to distract the public’s attention from all the good news piling up around President Donald Trump, Democrats could not have timed their impeachment votes better. Trump is racking up wins that are going unnoticed by the impeachment-obsessed media, but not, apparently, by the public.

Last week, to take one example, Trump secured a rare agreement with Democrats, who signed off on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, which supersedes NAFTA. This has been a longstanding goal of Trump’s, who campaigned on fixing what he called the worst trade deal ever. Whether the USMCA is a big improvement over NAFTA depends on whom you ask, but nobody can deny that getting Democrats on board in the current political environment is a huge win for Trump.

A few days later, Trump reached a “phase one” deal with China that, while limited, at least indicates the beginning of the end of his long-standing trade war. As part of the deal, the Chinese agreed to increase their purchase of U.S. goods by $200 billion, plus an additional $40 billion in agricultural products, over the next two years, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The 25% tariff on $250 billion of Chinese goods remains in place, but tariffs on another $120 billion will be cut to 7.5%. The U.S. also agreed to forestall a 15% tariff on $156 billion in Chinese imports, primarily consumer goods such as toys, clothes and electronics, which had been scheduled to take effect over the weekend.

The past week has also seen a string of still more good economic news, which suddenly caused mainstream economists to put aside their dire warnings of a recession next year. Now they are forecasting steady, if modest, growth in 2020.

These economists – who have repeatedly underestimated growth under Trump – might have to revise their forecasts upward again as the data show the economy strengthening. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve reported that manufacturing production rose 1.1% in November, as did industrial output. That’s significantly higher than economists had been expecting.

Meanwhile, the Housing Market Index, which measures confidence among home builders, and is published by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, surged to a 20-year high this month. CNN reports that there have been only a few times in the index’s 34 years that confidence has exceeded the latest reading.

At the same time, the stock market continues to reach new highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 20% for the year, the S&P 500 27%.

And this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job openings climbed 235,000 in October to 7.3 million, which means there were 1.5 million more job openings than unemployed workers for the month.

This, by the way, is an almost exact reversal from where the job market stood when Trump took office. In January 2017, there were 7.6 million looking for work but only 5.6 million job openings.

The only thing trending down these days is the unemployment rate, which dropped to 3.5% in November – the lowest it’s been since December 1969.

That fact that the economy is showing renewed signs of strength at this point in an economic expansion, which is now in its 11th year, is remarkable.

This apparently isn’t entirely lost on the public, despite the widespread media blackout about any good news involving Trump. Even as the House moves toward impeachment, his poll numbers have been ticking up. His average approval in the five most recent polls tracked by Real Clear Politics is 45.2%, which for Trump is close to an all-time high. In the five polls before that, Trump’s approval averaged 44%.

Democrats and the press can’t acknowledge any of this because they’d have to admit that Trump is making progress on his promises, and that his policies have sparked this economic turnaround after years of President Barack Obama’s moribund recovery. So, they talk about impeachment instead.

It makes one wonder what Democrats will do after their impeachment circus packs up and leaves town. How will they distract the public then?

— Written by John Merline

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