July 3, 2024

Trump’s Economic Record and Agenda

The debate and other analyses provided a real contrast between the two candidates.

The first presidential debate began on the most important topic to voters — the economy. Moderator Jake Tapper quickly rattled off some terrible metrics, such as 20% cumulative inflation and a 30% rise in home prices before asking Joe Biden an essential question: “What do you say to voters who feel they are worse off under your presidency than they were under President [Donald] Trump?”

Biden responded by telling people how awful everything was when he came to office. “We had an economy that was in freefall,” he complained. “The economy collapsed. … It was terrible. And so, what we had to do is try to put things back together again.”

Trump retorted with his typical hyperbole: “We had the greatest economy in the history of our country,” he said, and so on.

Well, technically… the “fact-checkers” asserted almost immediately, not bothering to check Biden’s hyperbole in the other direction. What Trump meant, of course, is that his economy was roaring until COVID hit. And even then, the recovery was skyrocketing in late 2020 — GDP was up more than 33% in the third quarter and 4.1% in the fourth, followed by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2021.

Then Biden wrecked it with the American Rescue Plan, which ignited the wildfire of inflation.

Trump did sort of whiff when he brought up the 16 economists who warned about his second-term economic agenda. I covered that the morning of the debate. Those economists were all Biden backers with a track record of wrong predictions, but all Trump could get out was that their prediction was “made up,” just like other hoaxes. Fair enough, but not enough.

So, what would the economy look like under Trump? In my aforementioned analysis, I spent most of the time looking at Biden’s economy, though I did note that during Trump’s years, taxes were lower, wages were higher, energy production was abundant, and inflation never even entered anyone’s mind.

I’d expect similar things from a second Trump term, though 2025 will be a far cry from 2017.

Let’s start with tariffs, which are a key part of Trump’s pitch. We in our humble shop have never been big fans of tariffs because, like corporate taxes, the people who really pay tariffs are consumers — not other countries, as Trump asserts. Insofar as tariffs literally and directly make consumer goods more expensive, they would simply be another cause of inflation. Tariffs also wouldn’t raise enough revenue to offset federal spending or revenue cuts elsewhere. (By the way, Biden has kept most of Trump’s first-term tariffs.)

Then again, none of that is Trump’s point.

His point is countering Beijing’s communists. “China is going to own us if you keep allowing them to do what they’re doing to us as a country,” Trump said in the debate. As Brent Ramsey observed in our pages last week, Trump is right. Trump sees tariffs as a tool to help level a playing field that desperately needs to be leveled in the face of Chinese designs on global domination.

Does anyone think Joe Biden, whose son cashed in on deals with the ChiComs, is going to suddenly be better on China than Donald Trump? I didn’t think so.

Next, let’s consider taxes. “I gave you the largest tax cut in history,” Trump boasted last Thursday. That is, as the “fact-checkers” breathlessly rushed to say, not technically true. Fine, but they were substantial, which, again, was his point.

It’s also a flat-out lie that Trump’s cut only “benefited the very wealthy,” as Biden repeatedly insists. The only truth to it is that Trump cut tax rates across the board, so the wealthy did get a cut, even though, as a group, they pay an even higher share of taxes now than in 2016.

If you pay income taxes, Trump cut your rate. It’s as simple as that. On the other hand, millions of Americans not only pay no income tax but are net recipients of taxpayer dollars through unconstitutional income redistribution. Biden only ever wants more of that.

Trump promises to extend his tax cuts, which expire in 2025. He even promises not to tax tips, which hospitality workers will love. Biden promises only to raise taxes on the wealthy and … somehow … keep rates for the rest of us. That led to his worst moment of the night, in which he mumbled about how all that money he’d supposedly confiscate from the wealthy would enable us to “wipe out [Trump’s] debt” (yeah, right) and pay for “all those things we need to do” (i.e., more redistribution programs) before he eventually stumbled to the end of his thought: “We finally beat Medicare.”

Let me ask two simple questions: Whose money is it? And when have Democrats ever paid down debt instead of concocting some other redistribution program like “forgiving” student loans? They never have enough of your money — even historic revenue rates are not even close to covering spending right now.

The best evidence of what another Trump presidential term could accomplish is this comprehensive evaluation of Trump’s record Mark Alexander wrote the week he departed Washington: “Perhaps Trump’s most obvious leadership ‘style’ was that he was a bomb dropper. The day he arrived in DC, he dropped a bomb on the Beltway status quo in Congress and its special interests. He dropped a bomb on the regulatory behemoths and their bureaucratic bottlenecks. He dropped a bomb on the trade and national security institutions and alliances that failed miserably over the previous eight years. And he dropped a bomb on all the pundits and mainstream media outlets.”

Alexander added, “The net results of Trump’s carpet-bombing of the DC establishment is that he left office with an extraordinary list of accomplishments eclipsing those of every president since Ronald Reagan.”

He concluded, “In addition to that lengthy list of the Trump administration’s exceptional record, [we] compiled a ‘Trump Legacy’ series for the record: Foreign Policy Achievement; Blacks, Hispanics, and Blue-Collar Workers; Trump’s Deregulation Record; Domestic Policy Achievement; and Political Impact. Suffice it to say that in one term, President Trump’s accomplishments rivaled those of the most effective two-term presidents.”

The bottom line: Biden never saw a government program he didn’t want to grow, which always comes at the expense of the economy, and he’ll raise taxes to “pay for” it all. (The same will be true no matter what Democrat ends up standing in for Biden.) Trump (generally) gets government out of the way and lets everyone keep more of their own hard-earned money, which largely yields economic growth.

Informed voters have a choice this November. Democrats will do their best to keep their constituents uninformed.

Follow Nate Jackson on X/Twitter.


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