Now we also have a gigantic budget deficit ($984 billion at last look), driven in large part by the tax cuts that were supposed to both pay for themselves and permanently goose growth. The tax cuts did neither, undercutting the rationale for giving away the lion’s share of the tax breaks to the rich and to corporations. Moreover, as the only domestic “accomplishment” other than criminal justice reform (hardly a motivator for Trump’s base), the tax cut’s failure to deliver on promised growth of more than 3 percent and on $4,000 wage increases undercuts the main rationale for Trump’s reelection.
We are not yet in a recession, but that doesn’t mean Trump has much to brag about. (“After revving to 2.9 percent growth in 2018,” reports The Post, “the U.S. economy appears to be settling into the slower pace that it notched during the final year of the Obama administration. Trump vowed during his presidential campaign that he could boost the economy to around 4 percent growth, a level not seen in years. He also has promised at least 3 percent growth a year, an annual pace he has yet to achieve.”) The donor class, the very wealthy and corporations still have much to celebrate (“Trump’s economic agenda has resulted in tax cuts, deregulation, trade fights and spending increases,” The Post says), but the average Trump voter in red America might be understandably perturbed.
In particular, the manufacturing sector, which Trump vowed to improve by making great trade deals, is in bad shape. “Three years after Donald Trump campaigned for president pledging a factory renaissance, the opposite appears to be happening,” Bloomberg News reported this week. “Manufacturing made up 11% of gross domestic product in the second quarter, the smallest share in data going back to 1947 and down from 11.1% in the prior period, a Commerce Department report showed Tuesday. Figures before 2005 were for full years only.” Indeed, there is strong evidence Trump has made matters worse: “The administration’s protectionist policies have disturbed companies’ supply chains, stymied investment and slowed hiring. Tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products helped tip the manufacturing sector into recession earlier this year. Some recent figures suggest stabilization but it remains fragile.”
One can argue that there is no magic to manufacturing and that manufacturing jobs are no more critical than service jobs. However, that has not been Trump’s pitch. Worse, specific industries that he vowed to help have collapsed. You’ll remember the promise to save the coal industry. Well, it has imploded:
The death spiral of the U.S. coal industry claimed its latest victim, as the nation’s largest private coal mining company, with close ties to President Trump, filed for bankruptcy [Tuesday].Murray Energy, which has missed multiple payments to lenders, filed for Chapter 11 protection ... in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio, according to a company news release.CEO Bob Murray was a major contributor to Trump’s election campaign. He gave the new administration a wish list of environmental rollbacks. Many of those rollbacks have begun, including the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate pact.
Trump’s corporate cronyism was not enough to save a dying industry, and the promises made to coal miners were frankly never going to come to pass.
Whether some or all of this data lessens Trump’s grip on blue-collar workers (not to mention farmers who’ve been walloped by the trade war) remains to be seen. However, Democrats would be smart to remind middle and working-class voters in the Rust Belt and Midwest that Trump has been very good to Big Pharma, Big Business and his rich friends, but done nothing for them. Well, that is not exactly fair — he did try to take away their health care.