If you were able to subject yourself to viewing any portion of the Republican National Convention, you surely must have noticed that the image of Donald Trump’s administration portrayed by the loud array of speakers, often Trump’s own family members, was to anyone even casually observant of U.S. politics the past four years, largely at odds with the reality we experienced.
In his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Trump celebrated the putative success of the economy he claims to have built, doing so in historic terms: “I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been,” he boasted.
And yet, at the same time, budget deficits and the national debt continue to surge, revealing that Trump’s policies are not designed to fuel an economy for the long haul but rather that currently the U.S. economy is running on a sugar high, showing the potential to crash at any moment.
While the stock market is performing at record levels, the national debt has also surged to record levels, surpassing $23 trillion for the first time in history and promising only to bloat more. Over the first four months of 2020 fiscal year, the deficit is outpacing last’s year deficit expansion by 25% in the same time frame. Over the past 12 months, the deficit has expanded $1.1 trillion.
Bess Levin, writing for Vanity Fair, gives perspective to the horror of Trump’s sugar-high economy when she writes, “Incredibly, this is all happening against the backdrop of the longest economic expansion on record and the lowest jobless rate in 50 years, conditions that typically cause the budget deficit to shrink.”
Trump promised, of course, that the enormously generous tax cuts he bestowed on corporate America and the wealthiest Americans would spur a growth that would cover the cost of tax cuts and more, spreading prosperity to all Americans. (Of course, let’s not forget he campaigned on the promise he would, in fact, eliminate the debt entirely, which at the time stood at approximately $19 trillion.)
Yet while the GDP grew 2.9% in 2018, growth slowed to 2.3% in 2019 as the debt and deficit swelled to historic proportions.
Days after Trump’s State of the Union peacocking, Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s deficit expansion in an interview with CNBC.
Here are a few of his responses which not only recycle the stale—because failed—narratives of trickle-down economics and of tax cuts paying for themselves, but also grossly distort history, falsely claimly Trump inherited an economy in decay, as opposed to one of the most steadily expanding economies in history the Obama administration engineered. Pence prevaricated as follows:
“The president came into office and he said, ‘First and foremost, we have to restore growth.’”
“Deficits and debt are right in line, but it is first about getting this economy moving again and we really do believe the trajectory of this economy.”
“Once we get this economy rolling, we’re going to work real hard, not just to get President Donald Trump four more years in the White House, but we’re going to make sure we have a Republican Senate and a Republican House to keep America growing and to deal with those long-term fiscal challenges.”
The big lie here, of course, is Pence’s insistence that Obama did not have the economy rolling, that Trump needed to get it moving again.
Politifact reported, for example, having looked at the economic measures Trump invokes, that “the trend lines continued almost seamlessly from the second half of Obama’s presidency into the first three years of Trump’s tenure. Trump’s claim that he turned around a failing economy is wrong.”
Obama ran deficits and increased the debt doing the arduous work of pulling the nation’s economy out of a deep recession. Trump has been over-stimulating an economy that was already healthy, throwing money at the wealthiest while failing to invest in real growth for America, deceiving Americans it will trickle down.
Of course, the World Bank rejected the efficacy of trickle-down economics back in 2015, debunking it as a myth. The International Monetary Fund actually lambasted it as a joke.
Pence’s insistence on recycling this failed myth is basically an admission of Trump’s fraudulent mismanagement of the U.S. economy to the detriment of American lives.
Pence asserted that Trump sees “the real long-term solution to the fiscal challenges in Washington, D.C., is making sure the budget of every American is growing.”
And let’s not forget how growing deficits impact Americans’ economic well-being.
The ballooning deficit resulting from the Trump tax-cuts, for example, cultivated a fertile context for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to loudly renew their insistence that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are necessary to address the out-of-control deficit their own policies immediately exacerbated. Far from benefiting Americans, these tax cuts, which were supposedly to trickle down, just keep cutting Americans and increasing economic precarity, not prosperity.
Trump himself recently confirmed
In response to news that the economy created 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate dipped to 50-year lows, CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza rehashed the tired but nonetheless damaging and deceptive narrative that “the economy” is indeed strong, providing Trump a clear path to re-election if only he were politically deft and disciplined enough to stay on it. Cillizza suggests he isn’t and that it is precisely his inability to stay on point about the success of the economy that threatens his 2020 re-election bid.
We have heard this narrative again and again.
What is damaging and deceptive in this narrative is the premise. The assertion that the economy is strong is, if not entirely wrong or untruthful, problematic and distorted. As I’ve written elsewhere in PoliticusUsa, democrats would be wise not to concede this premise and, in fact, to make Americans’ economic well-being a central issue in 2020.
“The economy” is not the same thing as people’s economic life and livelihood.
As Steven Horwitz, Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise at Ball State University, reminds us, “The economy isn’t a thing.” He explains, “Things are not ‘good/bad for the economy.’ They are good or bad for the people . . . Trump’s policies may well enrich many firms, but they will impoverish the average American.”
When we paint a fuller, more detailed, and indubitably more accurate picture of the economy, we can see very clearly the way Trump’s policies on healthcare, education, the environment, taxes tariffs, food stamps, and more, have inflicted and promise to inflict more pain on Americans’ pocketbooks and lives.
One place to start in providing a more accurate view of Trump’s handling of the economy is with the deficit.
Reports indicated that in October the federal government’s budget deficit ballooned 34% from a year earlier to $134.5 billion, projecting that the annual deficit will top $1 trillion for the first time in eight years.
Hmmm. If the economy is booming, shouldn’t the federal government’s coffers be filling up and not depleting?
We can certainly understand how in a time of recession the government would need to provide economic stimulus and thus run a deficit, but when the economy is supposedly experiencing record performance?
When Trump slashed corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent, we were told, as usual, that these tax cuts would pay for themselves, create an economy that enriches us all.
But deficits actually take money from Americans. How? Well, first, more of our tax dollars are diverted from paying for services and infrastructure (education, healthcare, roads, etc.) we all use and need, to simply paying interest for which we receive nothing in return.
The American people, then, thus receive less for each tax dollar. Our tax dollars are going to enrich corporations and the wealthy rather than pay for the services and infrastructure we are used to receiving for those same dollars. It’s like going to the grocery store and having the cashier take your milk and bread, which you can typically afford with your budget, when you check out.
Consider that Trump’s proposed 2020 budget called for significant cuts to education and services, even though we know, for example, that investing in education promises to serve the health of the economy overall as well as helping individuals increase their earnings over the course of their lives, thus also creating more tax revenue. In short, these cuts are harmful to ordinary citizens as well as the overall health of the economy.
And the ballooning deficit resulting from the Trump tax-cuts, for example, cultivated a fertile context for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to loudly renew their insistence that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are necessary to address the out-of-control deficit their own policies immediately exacerbated. Far from benefiting Americans, these tax cuts, which were supposedly to trickle down, just keep cutting Americans and increasing economic precarity, not prosperity. How about we measure that?
And while we need to support farmers for our national and individual well-being, the reason taxpayers are contributing $28 billion to bail them out is precisely because of Trump’s failing trade war with China and the tariffs he has levied.
Again, this is $28 billion dollars effectively taken out of Americans’ pockets for which they receive nothing in the return. In fact, they will lose more, as these payouts lead to cuts elsewhere as well as rising deficits. Now that cashier just took your bag of apples as well.
And consider healthcare. Last year a federal judge in Texas threatened millions of Americans’ healthcare, declaring the entirety of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. The Trump administration effectively supported the suit, doing nothing to support or defend the federal law. As of yet, despite promises, Texas legislators have done nothing to develop a replacement should the Affordable Care Act disappear in Texas.
Healthcare is an economic issue for Americans. Is Trump doing anything to improve their financial well-being through healthcare policy? No, he is only undermining people’s ability to secure affordable and quality healthcare, hugely impacting Americans’ lives.
And consider the costs of his hostility to addressing climate change in meaningful ways.
Trump’s own scientists issued a report on climate change in November 2018, focusing on its environmental and economic impacts, highlighting the need for urgent short-term action to ensure our long-term survival. Among many alarm bells, the report warns,
“Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems, including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security.”
The best chance of shifting America’s popular mind might be to focus on these campaign promises, keeping the conversation on what Trump has done. Has he worked for the American people? Or is he working for Trump and lining his own pockets?
Can we call an economy “successful,” if people living within it are being harmed, not served?
In short, Trump’s policies aren’t helping, and the prospects aren’t looking good.
There was a time, not that many years ago, when Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin symbolized the bright future of the Republican Party.
When he was chosen to be the vice presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in 2012 he was seen as a brilliant young Congressman who understand the details of the federal budget better than anyone else. It was also thought that he was forward thinking and could fashion a Republican legislative agenda that would stop the growth in the federal deficit while at the same time bringing prosperity to all Americans.
Of course, this image of Paul Ryan was nowhere near the truth. He wasn’t nearly as smart or knowledgeable as people believed. And it turns out that his legislative agenda was to sell out to the highest bidders, meaning right-wing billionaires whose only goal is to cut their taxes while shredding the social safety net.
So a year ago it was Speaker Ryan who brought America the GOP tax scam. It did cut taxes for billionaires, and Ryan had the audacity to tell the American people that those tax cuts would have to be paid for by corresponding cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And at the same time, he has brought record deficits to the federal government.
So now Paul Ryan has retired, and the only comment he will receive from most people is this: “good riddance.”
Yesterday Paul Kane published a piece in The Washington Post describing how Republicans — and especially Ryan — are having an embarrassing end of the year.
Kane explained that for the GOP 2018 is ending exactly how it started:
“Republicans are ending the 115th Congress in an all-too-familiar spot: standing on the sidelines while President Trump picks a fight they wanted to avoid as he ignores what they consider major conservative accomplishments.”
On Wednesday Donald Trump attacked Paul Ryan in what many believe was an attempt by the president to deflect blame in advance of a crushing Republican defeat in Tuesday’s midterm elections. It appears that Trump needs a scapegoat and he did not hesitate at all to throw the retiring Speaker of the House under the bus.
Since the GOP is expected to lose its House majority next week Trump obviously believes he should get an early start on blaming other people for this loss, even though he may be primarily to blame.
Trump went on Twitter to publicly slam Ryan who had criticized his statements that he could end birthright citizenship by issuing an executive order.
“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!
A company owned by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
‘s family was given over $7 million in federal contracts based on bogus claims of Native American ancestry, according to a
The top political reporter for NBC News, Chuck Todd, went on The Today Show on Wednesday and said that if a “functional Washington” existed then Congress would be “holding investigations into the Trump presidency” and “looking for ways to draw up articles of impeachment.”
Todd also recommended to outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan that he try to leave behind a functional group of Republicans who would “start an investigation” of the president in the House Judiciary Committee.
““I do think Paul Ryan needs to think long & hard about the future of the Republican Party. This is your last chance off this train, and it looks like Manafort & Cohen only have more to say.”
“I do think Paul Ryan needs to think long & hard about the future of the Republican Party. This is your last chance off this train, and it looks like Manafort & Cohen only have more to say.” –@chucktodd pic.twitter.com/szCz9OclEL
The secret tape where Devin Nunes admits that House Republicans are the only way to stop Mueller shows how Speaker of the House Paul Ryan betrayed his own country to protect Trump.
Against all evidence, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he didn't have a problem with President Donald Trump sitting down with Putin, claiming that what matters is the message that Trump might send to stop meddling in our country.
An immigration bill that was supposed be a compromise among Republicans, and was endorsed by Trump, crashed and burned in the House.
Trump endorsed the bill via a tweet:
HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE. PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!
Nicolle Wallace hammered Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for helping Trump ruin the lives of 2,300 children
One way to measure the immense failure of the tenure of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House is how little he was able to accomplish with respect to his pet project of reforming Medicare.
Moderate Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives failed in their attempt to force Speaker Paul Ryan to bring a vote on the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to the house floor. Shortly before the deadline of midnight on Tuesday it was announced by GOP leadership that the moderates had come up short in their attempt to pass a discharge petition that would have forced a vote on the DACA proposal. With the support of all Democrats in the House, plus a handful of GOP moderates, the DACA proposal would have passed the House against the wishes of Ryan and other members of the Republican leadership team.
Daily Kos Elections (DKE) has come out with some new statistics that should have Republicans shaking in their boots. In fact, it is this kind of information that probably led Paul Ryan to announce his retirement from Congress and as Speaker of the House. At the very least this will buoy Democratic Party optimism that they have a very good chance of retaking control of the House of Representatives this year.
According to DKE there are 60 congressional districts currently in Republican hands that voted at least once for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for president. This is a huge statistic because it shows that voters in these districts are persuadable. They are not locked in as “red” districts that will be hard to turn blue.
Given the unpopularity of President Donald Trump many of these districts may be very happy to have the chance to vote for a Democrat who may be able to impose some degree of oversight over the president’s actions.
This is what DKE found when doing an analysis of past presidential election results in these 60 GOP districts:
Ryan spoke to reporters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon, and said he agreed with an “initial assessment” by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who maintained publicly last week that the FBI’s use of an informant to obtain information about Russia’s involvement in the Trump campaign was “appropriate.”
“I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate,” Ryan told reporters. He, along with Gowdy and other congressional leaders, was briefed by the Justice Department on the FBI’s use of the informant. “I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment Chairman Gowdy has made,” Ryan said.
Ryan was also asked if he believes that the president has the power to pardon himself of any crimes he may have committed. “Obviously, the answer is he shouldn’t, and no one is above the law,” Ryan said.
Ryan also criticized the Department of Justice for stalling the efforts by the House investigators to obtain documents concerning the use of the FBI informant. He said that there’s still a need to reach a “final answer” on questions about the informant.
When Gowdy first dismissed Trump’s “spygate” theory last week, he was verbally assaulted on TV and in social media by Trump’s ardent supporters. And now Ryan’s comments are also attracting heavy fire from Trump’s allies who don’t like anyone to contradict the conspiracy theories of the president.
Trump has made repeated claims with no evidence that the FBI inserted a “spy” into his presidential campaign for political purposes. He even came up with a new term to describe it: “Spygate.”
On Tuesday, he made reference to an internet conspiracy theory to suggest the spying began in 2015, months before the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election began, again with no evidence to support his assertions.
Ryan has announced his retirement from Congress at the end of the current term, but more and more Republicans are stating publicly their opinion that the Speaker should go now instead of waiting.
“Once again, this is Speaker Ryan being unhelpful to the Republican efforts to keep control of the House and pick up Senate seats,” said one Trump supporter. “He needs to go … now.”
The No. 2 and No. 3 House Republican leaders, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, both want to be speaker and both have been supportive of the president’s “spygate” accusations.
A Ryan ally, however,
Rep. Tom Rooney
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said that Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) abdicated his duty to build a wall to stop Trump from reaching into the evidence locker on the Russia investigation. Instead of attending the bipartisan Gang of 8 briefing, Ryan left town to go fundraise.
On MSNBC's The Beat With Ari Melber, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) put the finger on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan for looking the other way and being an accomplice to Trump's Russia crimes.