Washington, and the media that cover the Capital, are currently obsessed with Attorney General William Barr’s Congressional testimony about the Mueller Report. The political agendas of both parties played out during the Senate hearing, while House Democrats cried foul when Barr refused to show up for their questioning.
If you follow the news, the Barr controversy is inescapable, and partisans see the hearings and media talk shows as opportunities to score points on the opposition. However, I wonder if the rest of America has the same passion for the rumpus.
Remember strategist James Carville’s mantra to the Bill Clinton campaign staff during the 1992 election: “It’s the economy, stupid.” If that still holds true, President Donald Trump is riding a wave of good news.
Figures released last week show the gross domestic product—the value of all goods and services produced in the United States—rose at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first three months of 2019. The Commerce Department said it was the strongest growth in a first quarter in four years.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said, “People are going back to the workforce. Companies have plenty of capital. Business confidence and consumer confidence are both rather high. It could go on for years. There’s no law that says it has to stop.” The Wall Street Journal reports the expansion, which began in mid-2009 under President Obama, “is set to become the lonest on record in the second half of 2019.”
Meanwhile, Americans have benefited from Trump’s 2017 tax cut… whether they know it or not. The New York Times reported last month that “Studies consistently find that the 2017 law cut taxes for most Americans. (But) Most of them don’t buy it.”
Their survey determined that 65 percent of all taxpayers got a cut, but only 40 percent think they did. The gap is the widest for those with a household income of between $50,000 and $75,000. A whopping 82 percent had a lower tax liability, but only 42 percent think they got any benefit.
Those figures got Democratic President candidate Joe Biden in a fix Monday during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh. “There’s a $2 trillion tax cut last year. Did you feel it? Did you get anything from it? Of course not. Of course not. All of it went to folks at the top and corporations,” he said at a union rally.
The Washington Post reviewed Biden’s claim and gave him Four Pinocchios (out of a possible four). “Most Americans received a tax cut,” the Post concluded. “They may not have noticed, but that’s no excuse for saying they never got one.”
Trump is getting more credit than ever for the economy. A CNN Poll conducted by SSRS found that 56 percent of Americans “say he’s doing a good job on the economy.”
The election is a still a long way off, and bad economic news can develop unexpectedly. Presidents who are credited with a good economy are also saddled with the downturns. For now, however, Trump can operate on an economic cruise control.
Barring impeachment, the post-Mueller cacophony on Capitol Hill will start to sound like just so much white noise. The bigger news can be found outside the beltway where more Americans are bearing witness to a strong economy.