Yesterday's developments in two courtrooms have obviously overshadowed all other news this week, and I'll have analysis on that front soon. Meanwhile, over in Reality 2, one of the questions surrounding Republicans' succeeding tax reform law -- which zero Democrats supported last year -- is whether or not its undeniably positive economic ramifications are sustainable. Some critics have shifted from warning of impending catastrophe to breezily predicting that the current "sugar high" will wear off. While it's true that economic developments can be cyclical, and that ups and downs always occur, the pro-growth argument is that giving job creators the certainty they need to invest and expand their companies (coupled with desperately-needed relief from an overzealous regulatory regime) will have a lasting impact. Thus far, it looks like the roaring "recovery summer" that the Obama administration promised us years ago is finally here. MarketWatch reports on the "blistering" state of the US economy:
The ebullient U.S. economy flexed its muscles at midsummer and is likely to expand steadily in the months ahead, according to an index that measures the nation’s economic health. The leading economic index rose 0.6% in July after a 0.5% gain in June, the Conference Board said Friday. Measures of economic health that look ahead, such as business orders, were particularly strong in July. A measure of current conditions — or how the economy is doing right now — rose 0.2%...“The U.S. LEI increased in July, suggesting the U.S. economy will continue expanding at a solid pace for the remainder of this year,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, economist at the board...A range of indicators point to the U.S. economy expanding around 3% in the second half of 2018. Growth is so robust that the Federal Reserve might even raise interest rates more rapidly than Wall Street had been expecting in order to prevent inflation from rising and the economy from overheating.
The Republican Joint Economic Committee tracks how nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office number crunchers have steadily increased their employment projections following the implementation of the GOP's agenda:
The upward revisions of Congressional Budget Office (CBO) job creation projections for 2018 and the even higher actual average so far this year show the positive impact of pro-growth policies. The first three bars in the chart show the date CBO published its projections (assuming then-current law remained in effect). Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was enacted and regulatory reforms began, CBO estimated only 106,000 jobs would be created per month in 2018. After regulatory and tax reforms CBO nearly doubled its projection to 200,000. The actual year-to-date rate is 215,000 jobs per month.
Democrats have been talking down tax reform as loudly as possible, leading to mediocre poll numbers on the law itself -- but the results speak for themselves, facilitating a huge surge in consumer confidence, a strong economic approval rating for President Trump, and greater satisfaction with the overall direction of the country among the general electorate than was the case prior to the midterm blowouts of 2010 and 2014:
One thing going for Republicans this election cycle, more Americans believe the country is heading in a good direction than they did before the 2010 and 2014 election. pic.twitter.com/91mSkoA7KH— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) August 20, 2018
One worry for the GOP continues to be voter enthusiasm. Party officials are finding that many Republican voters simply don't believe the polls showing Democrats poised to make substantial gains in November, fueling concerns about apathy and a lack of needed urgency to counteract the Left's intensity:
Per @jonathanvswan - GOP strategists are concerned the base doesn’t appreciate the threat of a blue wave, due to their mistrust of polls/media.— Nick Laughlin (@nick_d_laughlin) August 19, 2018
From @jpiacenza - only 28% (!) of GOP voters said they would trust a poll indicating Dems would take the house: https://t.co/3gxFOICnNo pic.twitter.com/CwgSk9keBd
Remember, the national polls weren't actually that far off in 2016; it was a small handful of state-level polls that whiffed spectacularly. As Americans enjoy the current economic boom, Republicans want to make sure voters remember whose policies achieved these gains:
We’re talking about nationwide employers from AT&T to Wal-Mart. And local businesses from Glier’s Meats in my home state of Kentucky to Stricks Ag in Montana and New Hudson Facades in Pennsylvania. These are -- in some cases -- the multi-thousand-dollar bonuses that my friends the Democratic Leaders in the House and here in the Senate tried to shrug off as ‘crumbs.’ Maybe in New York or San Francisco. Not much of anywhere else. Remember, they persuaded every one of our Democratic colleagues to vote against tax cuts. Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently found the Employment Cost Index -- that’s everything American employers spend on employee wages and benefits -- has increased 2.8 percent in the past 12 months alone. As CNBC reported, that’s the strongest year-on-year growth since the autumn of 2008. Let me say that again. By this measure, on Republicans’ watch, worker pay and benefits has already logged a faster 12-month growth rate than we ever achieved in all President Obama’s time in office. It’s yet another data point: American workers, job creators, and middle-class families are enjoying one of their best economic moments in a long time.
And for all the talk of the president's drag on his party, which is undoubtedly true in certain states and districts, he may not be as toxic in swing regions as Democrats would like to believe (and this little piece of data may prove crucial to Repulbicans' efforts to holding the Senate). To illustrate my point, look no further than Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp's efforts to hug Trump and court right-wing voters:
Meanwhile, in the upper chamber, Dem incumbents are shopping EXCLUSIVES to Breitbart and featuring the President in their ads. pic.twitter.com/EuCUV7MBTN— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) August 20, 2018
Of course, given the latest news cycle, we're reminded that toxicity can change in a heartbeat.