Trump’s early economic success reveals Obama failures, could presage 2020 landslide
© Getty Images

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonFormer DNC chair: Russian election hacking an ‘act of war’ Chelsea Clinton dismisses rumors she'll run for public office: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE ran her presidential campaign with the promise to continue the policies that produced the alleged “progress” gained under the Obama administration. Based on how optimistic Americans have been since Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMatt Schlapp: 5 lessons Paul Ryan hopefully learned from healthcare debate Former DNC chair: Russian election hacking an ‘act of war’ Prices dictate energy supply trends far more than policy MORE won the election in November, it’s easy to see Clinton’s strategy was a grave error.

According to a survey conducted by the Conference Board, consumer confidence rose to 114.8 in February, the highest level for the index since July 2001, according to an analysis by MarketWatch.

ADVERTISEMENT
The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research reports similar findings. Its average Consumer Sentiment Index score for December, January, and February is the highest three-month average since 2004, and its Current Conditions Index score for the same period is the highest average since 2001.

 

MarketWatch further reported, “A much healthier labor market has lifted the spirits of consumers. The share of those living in the U.S. who said jobs are ‘hard to get,’ for example, fell to an eight-year low of 20.3% in February.”

These numbers are bolstered by the tremendous growth in investment that has occurred since Election Day. The mean Down Jones Industrial Average for October 2016 was 18,233. When the markets closed on March 1, 2017, the DJIA closed above 21,000, an all-time high and increase of 15.1 percent compared to October. By comparison, from October 2014 to October 2016, the market only rose by 443 points, an increase of about 2.5 percent.

The data is clear: In just a few months, President Trump has done more to improve consumer confidence than President Obama did in his final two years in office.

Trump’s generally pro-business approach seems to have already had a positive effect on employment as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the three-month period prior to the 2016 election (the end of July through October), total employment rose by 498,000, a 0.41 percent increase. From the end of October through January, employment increased by 580,000, an increase of 0.47 percent.

Trump has also succeeded in implementing reforms that will likely have significant economic benefits for years to come. Trump resurrected the Keystone XL Pipeline and granted final approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project that is expected to bring to North Dakota $100 million in additional tax revenues, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Trump also implemented a rollback of Obama-era coal-energy regulations and signed an executive order that mandates a review of Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which will eventually help to spur investment and banking.

All these early achievements have occurred rapidly and result from policy changes implemented by Trump that radically depart from those that were in place under Obama. It’s not as though Trump and the Republican-led Congress have created results by implementing new and innovative programs, policies, or laws. In fact, very few laws or reforms have been passed by Congress thus far. It seems clear then that the key to Trump’s economic success has simply been to reject Obama’s policies and government-centered ideology.

Although Trump and his allies will argue his administration deserves significant praise and recognition for improving the nation’s economic outlook—and he does deserve some credit, clearly—the improved rate of economic growth reveals more about Obama’s disastrous policies than it does Trump’s time in office.

Should Trump’s economic gains continue, regardless of whether Trump is able to win the ongoing public-relations war over topics such as immigration and terrorism, it’s hard to imagine him losing against any Democrat, no matter how impressive he or she might be, in 2020.

Trump won in 2016 because he was able to capitalize on the growing frustration among historically Democrat-aligned voters in the Upper Midwest, many of whom chose Trump solely for his economic policies. It’s unlikely these voters will reverse course on Trump if he delivers on his promise to improve the economy in the long-forgotten Midwest. This is especially true since it’s likely Trump’s success would bring back to the fold many Republicans who voted for a third-party candidate in 2016.

 For instance, in Minnesota, a state that has almost always voted for the Democratic Party candidate for president, Trump lost to Clinton by a mere 44,000 votes. Gary JohnsonGary JohnsonTrump’s early economic success reveals Obama failures, could presage 2020 landslide Trump taps former congresswoman for Air Force secretary Other states should join Jerry Brown's California resistance MORE earned 112,944 votes, and Evan McMullin, a very conservative candidate, earned 53,080 votes. If Trump were to win just 60 percent of these two conservative-leaning voting groups in 2020, he could win Minnesota, making it virtually impossible for a Democrat candidate to win. 

Justin Haskins is executive editor of The Heartland Institute and editor-in-chief of the New Revere Daily Press.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.