- President Trump touted the strength of the US economy during his State of the Union.
- But despite the stock-market records that Trump touted, the American economy is not working for many middle-class families.
- And if Trump believes that the economy is enough to get him elected, he is mistaken.
- Rep. Eric Swalwell is serving his fourth term representing California’s 15th Congressional District and serves on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If President Donald Trump thinks he can win reelection on the old “the economy, stupid” message, he’s sadly mistaken — because Americans aren’t stupid.
The president certainly seemed to think we are when he delivered his State of the Union address. Americans know that even though the Dow Jones Industrial Average is high and unemployment is low, this isn’t a strong economy in the some of the most basic ways.
It’s a top-floor economy in which most Americans who work struggle to make ends meet with meager wage growth and rising household debt while C-suite executives and big shareholders rake in profits. The Trump tax scam increased our national debt to make the rich richer while the middle class continues to shrink and workers struggle to pay their rent.
American farmers have been hit so hard by Trump’s impulsive trade war that bankruptcies and farmer suicides are on the rise. American companies are losing money and struggling to rework their supply chains. A slew of studies have made it clear: American families — not China — are paying the high costs of his tariffs.
Trump has presided over an economy of the rich, by the rich, for the rich, and the growth he promised — remember his boast that the economy could grow at 4%, 5% or maybe even 6%? — is slowing even for them.
Trump can’t hide
Never before has America had a president so focused on sowing domestic discord with his constant us-versus-them rhetoric, his daily barrage of angry tweets belittling and demonizing any who call out his failures and abuses.
No, he can’t hide behind the economy to draw attention from his childish, corrupt, and harmful behavior.
He can’t hide the fact that he has continually invited, and benefited from, foreign interference in our elections.
He can’t hide the fact that he has abused our allies to the point that the United States, once a respected world leader, too often now stands alone.
He can’t hide the fact of his racism, from his Muslim travel ban to his “very fine people on both sides” endorsement of anti-Semitism to his ugly scapegoating of refugees and immigrants for our nation’s ills. He can’t hide the families he tore apart, the children he caged.
He can’t hide the fact that he has acted only to dismantle healthcare protections for millions of Americans, offering no plan of his own.
He can’t hide the fact that disasters driven by climate change are costing more lives and money with each passing month, while he keeps ignoring science and whistling past the Earth’s graveyard.
He can’t hide the fact that he has systematically gutted wide swaths of the executive branch, laying waste to the State Department, the Education Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other institutions while blithely throwing the brave men and women of our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies under the bus when they report his misdeeds.
He can’t hide the fact that he strives to hide so much from the American people — his tax returns and international business dealings, his actions in shaking down our Ukrainian allies for personal political gain, his rationale for engaging in bloody brinksmanship with Iran. He believes he’s above ever needing to explain himself, a conceit that should bother Americans across the political spectrum.
Many Americans are out of patience with a president who spends inordinate time preening in the glow of the lavish praise he demands from his appointees and propagandists while failing miserably to deliver on what he promised for his first term. Many Americans don’t reward or even tolerate bullies, liars, and self-promoters, and they certainly don’t want that trifecta occupying their Oval Office.
Even his 2016 supporters must admit this president lies on a daily basis, on subjects so petty as the size of his inauguration crowd, or so absurd as using a Sharpie to falsify the path of a hurricane, or so huge as the nature of his own impeachment.
So when some pundit tells you that, historically, this kind of economy will reelect someone like Trump, ask them if there is any historical precedent for a grifter like Trump to hold the office in the first place.
The answer is, of course, no. Some things are more important than money, and that is something Trump will never understand.
Eric Swalwell is serving his fourth term representing California’s 15th Congressional District in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area. He cochairs the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on the Judiciary.
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