This is the sort of thing that depresses the hell out of me.
Voters rank “the economy” and “inflation” as their top concern in every major survey. And they consistently express more faith in Trump’s competence on those issues than Biden’s. In a Bloomberg–Morning Consult poll from last month, swing-state voters favored Trump over Biden on the economy by a 15-point margin and trusted the Republican more than the Democrat to best handle the cost of everyday goods and services by 12 points. Those results are in line with the findings of various other surveys of both battleground states and the nation as a whole.
Of course, here in Real World Land President Biden and his economic team have done a brilliant job lowering inflation while avoiding a recession. A whole lot of other industrialized democracies are suffering much more than we are. And (as Eric Levitz goes on to explain) Trump’s plans for a second term would make inflation worse.
Voters’ faith in Trump’s price-management bona fides may rest on nostalgia for the 2019 economy, antipathy for Biden, or the belief that The Apprentice was a documentary. One thing it most certainly does not rest on, however, is an accurate understanding of the Trump 2025 agenda’s macroeconomic implications.
That agenda includes imposing a 10 percent tariff on all foreign-made goods, enacting large deficit-financed tax cuts, and slashing America’s foreign-born labor force through mass deportations and immigration restriction. Taken together, this constitutes a recipe for a drastic increase in U.S. consumer prices.
Trump doesn’t understand how tariffs work. In his first term he persisted in thinking that a tariff is somehow a tax imposed on the importing country rather than a tax on the imported goods that American consumers end up having to pay. One suspects that at least a few people have attempted to explain to him how tarriffs work, but he decided to trust his own “stable genius” rather than economists. And Trump is a bleeping moron.
I don’t think the American people have ever heard the story of what a terrible businessman Trump really is. That information was out there in 2016, but if you aren’t the sort of person who reads the long, investigative features in major newspapers probably you wouldn’t have heard it. The truth is that his record as a businessman is awful. The real estate business he inherited from his father may have had some success after Trump took it over, although it’s hard to know now if any of that was real or just cooking the books. But it’s my understanding that every business venture Trump started himself ended up in bankruptcy court or just plain failed, or was shut down by a court because it was commiting fraud. If you know of an exception, do speak up. Were it not for tax and other fraud, being bailed out by The Apprentice, and probable money laundering for vaqious criminal entities he would have been wiped out long ago.
Some of this collective ignorance among voters is the Fox News effect, but some of it is the collective failure of U.S. news media. Too many allegedly “mainstream” news outlets just plain shy away from telling the plain truth, either because of losing access to Republican sources, or losing viewers, or possibly losing advertisers, or whatever.
And year after year people complain that elections are covered as if they were a “horse race” — who is ahead in the polls, who is behind — while the stories of the candidates’ records and what they might do if elected go mostly untold (except in those really long newspaper stories that only us nerds read). And by golly, so far as we move into a presidential election year, they’re pretty much doing that again, with the additional focus on Joe Biden’s age without noting that Trump is only three years younger.
The Biden campaign, at least, is complaining about some of the coverage of Trump. Charlotte Klein writes for Vanity Fair:
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign accused the political press this past week of not shining “a bright enough light” on Donald Trump’s abortion record, taking specific aim at a New York Timespiece that described the former president—who has boasted about his Supreme Court picks overturning Roe v. Wade—as now “employing vagueness and trying to occupy a middle ground of sorts” on the issue. “It’s time to meet the moment and responsibly inform the electorate of what their lives might look like if the leading GOP candidate for president is allowed back in the White House,” the campaign wrote. Biden campaign aides reiterated this critique on X. “Good to see folks have learned nothing from a decade of covering Donald Trump,” wrote deputy campaign manager Rob Flaherty.
It’s a start.
In other news: X May Lose Up to $75 Million in Revenue as More Advertisers Pull Out. Comment on social media — “Elon has lost his wife, his kids, 40 billion dollars, and his space ship crashed. It’s like a genre of country music that doesn’t even exist yet.”
In actual sad news: Eric Lutz, Vanity Fair, Trump’s Attacks On Judge and Law Clerk Triggers “Hundreds” Of Threats: Report. So maybe after a few people have been killed by Trump culties the gag order thing will be taken a bit more seriously.