Jim Hartman: Democrats may be giving Trump a lifeline
February 28, 2019
In his publicly well-received State of the Union speech, President Trump spoke about the strong economic and jobs growth in the United States under his administration.
While getting less attention than deserved, Trump pointed to the creation of 5.3 million new jobs, including 600,000 manufacturing jobs over the last two years. The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when Trump took office. The economy has surged to six quarters with average gross domestic product growth of 3 percent — that's double the 1.5 percent growth rate for the last six quarters of the Obama presidency.
More people today — 157 million — are employed than at any time in our nation's history. And, employers are looking to fill 6.9 million job openings. The unemployment rate is at a 20-year low. Since March 2018, we have had more job openings than people unemployed each month. This "on fire" labor market is benefiting everyone — regardless of race, sex, age, education or class.
Wages rose 3.2 percent in 2018 — the highest increase in over a decade. Wages for workers rose faster than wages for managers. Economic analyst Dan Clifton concludes that income inequality is declining, in part from provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. "The wealthy got a tax increase from the cap on state and local tax deductions and stock declines, while 90 percent of Americans received a net tax cut and wages increased last year," he argues.
This stellar economic performance was the result of the Trump administration's tax cuts and reduced government regulation — fruits of free market capitalism.
Yet Democrats running for president are proposing a radical economic lurch to the left. The biggest political story of 2019 is Democrats are embracing policies that meet the definition of socialism.
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Sixteen Democratic senators have endorsed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan, "Medicare for All," that would replace all private health insurance in the U.S. with a federally administered single-payer health care program. Private insurance would be banned. If replacing private insurance with government control isn't socialism, what is?
A "Green New Deal" already has 67 Democratic co-sponsors in the House and the support of 11 Democrats in the Senate, including presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. This idea would require the U.S. be carbon neutral within 10 years. The unhappy reality is renewable sources currently make up 17 percent of U.S. electric-power generation despite enormous federal and state subsidies. Millions of jobs would have to be destroyed in route to a brave new green world.
To assist in this 10-year transformation of society, the "Green New Deal" would provide a guaranteed government job for all "at a living wage to every person who wants one." This is no longer a fringe idea.
Democrats are proposing vastly higher taxes. Sanders wants to raise the top death tax rate to 77 percent. Warren wants a new 2 percent "wealth tax" on assets above $50 million and 3 percent above $1 billion. France recently junked its wealth tax because it was so counterproductive. This is government confiscation — and socialism.
The Democrats extreme leftward march could be giving Trump a lifeline to a second term despite his widespread unpopularity. Democrats could nominate the most left-wing presidential candidate in U.S. history.
The American public needs to have a robust debate about our economic future — the choice between free market capitalism and government owned or administered socialism.