What motivated people to support Donald Trump in 2016, and will it be enough to motivate them again? In this series, I examine the “Trump Mystique”, what it is, what is/was its appeal and how it could support his re-election bid. I am, NOT a Trump supporter, but to beat your opponents, you first have to understand them.
Prior to his election, Donald Trump called the economic numbers under President Obama fake. Once he assumed office, he did a quick about-face, declaring they were no longer fake. And thus we were off and running as the twists and turns of the economic numbers flowed at a dizzying pace.
The economy is indeed doing well -- for some people -- but many argue this is in spite of, and not because of, Donald Trump. Business leaders love his deregulation policies that have weakened rules intended to counter predatory lending that led to the Great Recession, protect the environment and address climate change. So, perhaps these are the actual “fake” numbers.
When you take a closer look at what Trump has done for the economy, you will see that it is teetering on the brink of a recession.
Much like the Dot.com bubble of the 1980s or the housing crisis that led to the Great Recession, the key indicators of this soaring stock market are pointing to its inevitable fall.
First, there is the budget deficit, which is predicted to top $1 trillion for the first time in our history. This is due, in part, to Trump’s so-called “tax reform” and his self-created trade war with China. Both of these have resulted in massive red ink as the rosy economic growth Trump predicted has failed to materialize at a pace he claimed would offset the cost of his “tax cuts”.
As many of us discovered when filing our 2018 tax returns, the slight boost in our paychecks was offset by tax penalties and limited deductions. This required many to have more money withheld from their paychecks to avoid these penalties in 2019.
The trade war with China had Trump providing farmers with a bailout to offset the lost revenue from the trade war, adding even more to the deficit. While many Republicans are quick to point out that President Obama bailed out the auto industry, this money was paid back, with interest. No such payback is seen forthcoming from farmers, so this is merely a political ploy to garner votes.
As for other aspects of the trade war, despite Trump’s insistence that China is paying the costs of increased tariffs, history has shown that the cost is ultimately paid by the consumer.
Even so, there have been over 1,100 applications for exemptions, which begs the question, what items are being influenced by these tariffs?
Trump has used the trade war to cause wild shifts in the stock market. A Tweet about progress in the trade war has led to the market soaring, while news of stalling trade talks has caused it to plummet. Such wild fluctuations have created a sense of panic amongst those who see their retirement plans evaporating with this volatile market.
Trump supporters claim he is a successful businessman, as evidenced by his name on so many properties. They believe he actually built these structures, when in fact, he simply bought the rights to the building, similar to a sports franchise selling the naming rights to their stadium. So, while the Trump name may be on many things, his actual ownership is an illusion.
His multiple bankruptcies, failed business ventures and multiple fraud investigations are ignored by his supporters as being “mean-spirited attacks”. Yet, he refuses to release his tax returns, as he promised to do multiple times, to show his true financial status.
Like his business ventures, the Trump economy threatens to fall like a house of cards. False promises, ballooning deficits and out-and-out fraud will cost future generations dearly.
Wish it weren't so, but there will be plenty of pieces of the economy
for Trump's successor to pick up if he -- or she -- is to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.