I was on “Capital Tonight” recently with my friend Bruce Thompson of Parker Poe who was the chair of the Hillary Clinton campaign in North Carolina in 2016. At the end of the segment, he said that his father taught him an important thing about politics he never forgot: “Son, people will always vote their pocketbooks come election time!”
Political consultants used to tell me the first priority of voters in any campaign was “My job!” The second was “My spouse’s job!” The third was “Everyone else’s job!”
If people are feeling good about themselves and their financial prospects and future, they tend to vote for incumbents. If they don’t feel good about their job situation, they will vote for someone else to see if they can pull something out of their economic bag of tricks that will help make their lives better.
Ronald Reagan crushed President Jimmy Carter in a terrible economy in 1980. Reagan cruised to re-election in a booming 1984 economy. Bill Clinton won a three-way race with only 43% of the popular vote against George H.W. Bush in a poor economy in 1992. Clinton easily won re-election in 1996 in a booming internet-fueled economy.
Carter and Bush 41 are the only two presidents not to win a re-election bid since World War II.
Last week, at the very same moment House managers were marching across the Capitol in a formal procession to the Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment, President Trump was signing Phase I of the new Chinese trade agreement which promises to add a half–point of GDP growth to 2020 growth and hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
The juxtaposition could not have been more stark. Democrats have spent the past three years doing nothing but trying to impeach President Trump; two years while in the minority and the last year while in the majority.
Employment for every age group, race and gender is at a historic high. As much as the Trump tax cuts and regulation reductions and restrictions contributed to this prosperity, the most important difference between the last three years and any time under the Obama Administration is the confidence that business owners have that they can invest and hire people without fear of more taxes and excessive regulation.
Phase I and II of the Chinese accords will be important to the American economy over coming decades. However, the most important trade agreement signed recently was the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada (USMCA) which replaced the old NAFTA agreement that caused so much disruption to our economy, particularly in the textile industry in the South.
Mexico and Canada account for twice as much trade combined with the U.S. as between the U.S. and China. U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada totaled $1.130 trillion fairly balanced between exports and imports.
Annual U.S. trade with China amounts to only half that total, $516 billion. Eighty percent of that trade total is Chinese exports to the U.S. mainly attributable to unfair trade practices by the Chinese government since 1980 which destroyed millions of manufacturing jobs in America.
Phase 1 of the China deal will add another 0.5% to GDP this year. For every full point increase in GDP, roughly 500,000 new jobs will be created in America.
Not a single senator or representative from any solid blue states such as California, New York and Illinois supported any of the Trump policies that have contributed to this new prosperity which has improved the economy of each blue state just as it has in the red states.
Perhaps the voters of these blue states need to heed the words of Bruce Thompson’s dad. Voting for the socialist policies of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and now Joe Biden, who has adopted many of them as gospel, will plunge us right back into the economic doldrums we experienced under the Obama administration for eight long years.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to take that chance?