According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), optimism among U.S. small businesses has surged to its highest level ever – even surpassing the record set in 1983 during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Let that sink in for a moment. President Trump and the Republican Congress are responsible for this remarkable growth and the changes to the country’s economic psychology and momentum.
Meanwhile, Democrats are affirmatively against the very things that have inspired this optimism and roaring economy. In fact, they’ve pledged to undo practically everything that got us here in the first place if they gain control of Congress during the midterm elections. It is surreal. Also, if there is a blue wave in November, it will suggest that Trump can expect to face a difficult reelection. And if businesses begin to think that Trump is going to lose, they are likely to pull back on investment and slow down hiring. The threat of a Democratic return to power will likely chill economic expansion. No one would blame U.S. businesses for going into a defensive crouch, ready to be pummeled by Obama-era policies that targeted the private sector, suppressed growth and generally degraded the business environment.
So it is more than a little ironic that just as this threat becomes viable, Barack Obama himself has reemerged in the election debate. Specifically, in an unbecoming partisan attack last week, he lamented that Trump and Republicans in Congress are committed to “unwinding regulations and weakening worker protections, shrinking the safety net.” In other words, he wants the Democrats to return to the job-killing regulation, business intimidation and oppressive taxation that defined his years in office.
For all of Trump’s flaws, the business climate in the United States has reversed completely on his watch. In Trump’s Washington, the private sector is viewed as part of the solution and not a greedy horde that needs to be leashed and punished. And the growth is showing signs of being broad and deep. According to the Institute for Supply Management, American manufacturing activity is growing at the fastest pace in 14 years. Would Democrats rather this not be happening?
Perhaps the ultimate sign of confidence among U.S. businesses today is that business creation has reached the highest level ever recorded. As the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman reported this week, “The 876,201 new business applications in the second quarter of 2018 were the most ever recorded. In fact, the totals for each of the six quarters in which Donald Trump has been in the White House are higher than for each of the quarters from [when the data was first tracked in the third quarter of 2004] through the end of 2016.” Compare that to the malaise of the Obama era when, according to data analyzed in a Brookings Institution report, “business deaths…exceed[ed] business births for the first time in the thirty-plus-year history of our data.” Hmm.
Rich Lowry wrote convincingly on Wednesday in Politico Magazine that President Trump is wasting an economic boom. He said, “the president who is presiding over the good times—and pushed for and signed the tax package that has boosted the recovery further—isn’t enjoying their full political benefit.” But the problem is that he is not just squandering his own political opportunity. The president is dragging down the GOP with him. If it weren’t for Trump’s dark and poisonous ranting mostly on Twitter, one could be tempted to say “It’s morning in America again,” ala 1984 and Ronald Reagan. But here we are. The question is, can Trump and the Republican Party pivot away from the self-inflicted noise and confusion in time to make the election more about the economy than a referendum on Trump’s behavior?