Trump’s words don’t buy dinner

One reason class is receding in our public debates: The Trump years have, so far at least, done little for wage earners. Indeed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real hourly wages overall droppedbetween July 2017 and July 2018, and they dropped for mid-wage workers, too. This is not at all the “winning” Trump promised.

.. one of the scammiest parts of Trump’s politics is that he talks like a labor leader but governs like a corporate lobbyist. His tax cut showered benefits on the wealthiest segments of society and produced deficits so massive that Republicans are now proffering cuts in social benefits that go in significant part to — yes, the working class.
.. But the tentative provisions regarding wages and a dispute resolution system that had previously tilted sharply toward the interests of investors do appear to be real improvements from the perspective of workers.
.. The core of Trump’s ideology, such as it is, has never been about class; his passion has always been for race, culture and immigration. Many post-election studies suggested that Trump’s voters were much more energized by these issues than by economics. Watch the typical Trump stump speech, and you will find that fear-mongering smothers any uplift and that falsehoods about immigrants outnumber truths about the challenges to middle-class living standards.
.. while 8.6 percent of white workers were paid poverty wages in 2017, the figures were 19.2 percent for Hispanic workers and 14.3 percent for African American workers.

The Great Distractor

Donald Trump’s ‘look over there’ media strategy is a trap that keeps Democrats from focusing public attention on his bad policies.

We didn’t hear much about the administration’s secret plan to bypass Congress (and common sense) to give a giant tax break to Wall Street investors, a possible violation of the constitution and a betrayal of the president’s promises to stand up for the little guy. It’s the result of what I call the “Trump Trap.”

  • He pledged to clean up the D.C. swamp, but he made it swampier.
  • He said he would make health insurance better, but he actually asked a judge to strip it away from people with serious diseases like cancer and diabetes.
  • His tax cuts ballooned C.E.O. salaries and stock buybacks, but real wages are still frozen

.. But you wouldn’t know it from watching the news. That’s because his unnecessary insults and controversies create a constellation of outrages that deflect accountability for his actions.

.. A person you probably don’t remember is Cheryl Lankford, who also spoke at the convention. She lost her husband, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Lankford, to a heart attack while he was serving in Iraq. Left alone to raise their son, Ms. Lankford used her survivor benefits to enroll in Trump University, hoping Mr. Trump’s advice could jump start her career. After paying more than $30,000 in tuition, she got no training. Like so many Americans, she thought Mr. Trump could improve her economic future, but he swindled her and thousands of others. Now the swindle is happening on an epic scale.

.. we tried to get out of the way of the negative coverage of Mr. Trump and his outrageous comments about Mr. Khan.

But the result was that people heard his message, not ours. So much so that after the election, some people thought Mrs. Clinton never talked about people’s economic lives. But she did. It just went into the black hole of the Trump Trap.

.. Mr. Trump never attacked Cheryl Lankford or the other people suing Trump University. Instead, he disparaged the Latino judge in the case, so we spent a week talking about how racist he is, not about how he had cheated working people.

.. Mr. Trump will say and do things that demand a response from anyone who values decency and morality. The result is that he decides what gets attention — and he’s not held accountable.

.. Third, we Democrats have to pick fights that highlight Mr. Trump’s malfeasance. When the president seeks to take away health insurance from seniors or people with cancer, we can’t let that go unnoticed.

.. Candidates: Beware the Trump Trap. The president has promised to spend a majority of his time campaigning this fall. He will call you names. He will come at you with outrage after outrage. It will be very tempting to wear this as a badge of honor to reap the rewards of social media attention and campaign donations. You will think he is drowning in backlash. But

Candidates: Beware the Trump Trap. The president has promised to spend a majority of his time campaigning this fall. He will call you names. He will come at you with outrage after outrage. It will be very tempting to wear this as a badge of honor to reap the rewards of social media attention and campaign donations. You will think he is drowning in backlash. But he will really just be making the debate about anything other than his own failings or the lives of the voters you wish to represent. Your vision and motivations will be obscured and vulnerable to subterfuge.

Before you give Mr. Trump more rope, make sure the debate is on your terms, not his.

Trump’s Economic Claims Are Overblown

And the rate of job growth during Mr. Trump’s first 19 months in office (194,000 jobs per month) is slightly less than the rate at which jobs were added during Mr. Obama’s final 19 months (205,000 per month). So the good news on jobs is the same good news Americans have been hearing for the last three years.

.. Over the first 18 months since Mr. Trump took office, real earnings, which reflect earnings after accounting for inflation, rose at an annual rate of just 0.3 percent.

.. Without these extraordinary interventions, the underlying rate of economic expansion in the second quarter of this year was about 2.7 percent
.. Moreover, that 4.1 percent number isn’t heroic. During the Obama presidency, the economy produced four quarters of growth that were higher. And the consensus among private and government forecasters is that the G.D.P. growth rate is likely to ebb quickly, once tariffs are actually in effect and the tax cut gains are all realized. Goldman Sachs, for example, forecasts that the annualized growth rate will fall to 3.3 percent in the third quarter and then taper down to 1.5 percent by the end of 2019.
.. the Trump administration’s policies have done little for the average worker. Mr. Trump’s tax cut delivered 84 percent of its benefits to business and to individuals with incomes above $75,000 a year.

As Inflation Rises, It’s Even Harder to Get a Raise

Hourly earnings in June grew 2.7 percent from a year earlier. That’s more or less in line with the pace of the past two years. But now those modest wage gains are worth less in the real world. The reason: The prices of goods and services are picking up. In May, inflation hit 2.8 percent and grew faster than wages, which increased 2.75 percent.

.. The White House has contended that corporate tax cuts, like those enacted last year, will prompt companies to make investments that improve productivity and thus enable them to pay employees more. (Productivity measures output per worker.)

So far, that virtuous cycle does not seem to be taking hold. And some economists are skeptical that it will. Companies have had the ability to invest cheap capital for years, and wages have not risen strongly.

.. “A lower cost of capital may lead to more investment that may lead to more productivity growth, but to assume that will trickle down to middle-class wages flies in the face of everything we’ve seen for the last 20 years,” said Jared Bernstein

.. the effective personal tax rate had not changed much in the past year, edging down to 12.21 percent in May, from 12.25 percent a year earlier.

.. He noted that inflation-adjusted wages had in recent years grown more or less in line with productivity, which has itself been lackluster.

But wages could soon outpace productivity, Mr. Zandi predicted, because companies will have to pay higher wages to attract and retain workers.