The winning re-election argument Trump could have made
President Trump has woken up to political reality. He loses to former Vice President Joe Biden, maybe pretty bad. And this belated realization explains why, after days and weeks of tremors and flip-flops, Trump finally seems to be all-in for another big stimulus and support package. "Covid Relief Negotiations Proceeding. Go Big!" represents his latest Twitter opinion on the matter. Speaking to radio host Rush Limbaugh on Friday, he said, "I would frankly see a bigger incentive than the Democrats or Republicans are offering." The Trump administration's counter offer - at least for now - to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to be around $ 1.8 trillion, according to news reports.
But it might be too late to do a lot of political good to Trump. There is still no agreement and negotiations are ongoing. Meanwhile, Trump's plummeting polls are undoubtedly undermining his ability to trick skeptical Senate Republicans into what they see as largely Democratic and steeped in left “Keynesian” economic thinking. Additionally, a deal must be done in a short amount of time (probably within days, so an actual bill can be passed within a week or so after) for direct payments - along with a frame-appropriate letter from the President - to Reach voters before election day on November 3rd. And of course it is de facto election day. More than five million Americans have already cast votes in 31 states.
But it didn't have to be like that. If Donald Trump finds himself in a Mar-a-Lago guest room that has been converted into his personal podcasting studio next year, he might also wonder why he didn't make this foray sooner. A week after the Republican National Convention, widely recognized as an effective messaging event for the GOP, Trump was still more than seven points below Biden on polls. At that point, Trump should have leaned firmly into the one strategy that might have enabled him to fill the void with the help of an absolutely predictable "surprise" in October.
Five days before election day, the US Department of Commerce will publish its first estimate of economic growth for the third quarter. And it's growing to be insane numbers thanks to the companies that are back online after the pandemic lockdowns. Goldman Sachs is aiming for an annualized increase in real GDP of 35 percent, JPMorgan of 33 percent. An October surprise - at least for all those Americans who consume a steady stream of negative news from many media. To them, it may sound like America is experiencing an unexpected V-shaped recovery. To them, it seems like Trump is already keeping his promise to make America great again after the pandemic.
Trump's only remaining election advantage in the fall was the economy. Despite the Spring Freeze that stalled the economy, Trump still stepped into September with a net positive approval rating for the economy - about three points - a head start he has to this day. Now would have been the time to implement the following plan: First, sign another major bill that included more checks for Americans. Take whatever the Democrats were offering, add some sort of tax cut, and put maximum pressure on Senate Republicans to get it passed. Make sure voters attribute the huge October GDP figure to Trump's efforts.
Second, Trump should have been talking and tweeting non-stop about his economic record. In the first three years of the Trump administration, the economy accelerated somewhat compared to the last three years of the Obama administration. More importantly, unemployment rates hit record lows and wage growth has been fastest in low-income sectors. Did all of this happen together with a sharp rise in national debt? Sure, but Trump could have made Biden scold the deficit during the debates.
After all, Trump should have outlined a bold agenda for the second term. Big tax cuts for middle class workers. Promise me to build mini Silicon Valley tech centers in every battlefield state or something. Whatever. Just anything, so Trump had something different to discuss than Antifa and Hunter Biden. If Trump had something positive and forward-looking to promote, the first debate with Biden might have been different. It's also worth noting that the part of the Vice Presidential Debate that arguably went best for Mike Pence was the section on economics.
Further stimuli are passed on at some point. And that's good news for Americans - maybe for the new Biden administration too.
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