The booming economy is slowly but surely splitting Trump's opposition

The booming economy is slowly but surely splitting Trump's opposition
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The economic wedge’s thin edge is already splitting many from Trump’s opposition. The president’s recovery has largely followed the economy’s rebound and tax reform’s advent. What should particularly concern his strongest critics is that tax reform’s positive economic impact is still just beginning.  
 
According to Rasmussen’s Feb. 27 tracking poll, President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE’s approval/disapproval rating was 50/48 percent. While that may not seem especially significant, for Trump it is. It was his first 50 percent score since June 2017, and his first positive score since April 2017.
 
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In just six months Trump has rebounded from his lowest point. In August 2017, just as the effort to repeal ObamaCare was receiving its last rites, Trump’s job performance rating was 38/62 percent. Yet beneath the turbulence, the economy was already taking charge.  
 
 
Unknown then, the economy was in its second quarter of 3 percent growth. Shortly after, tax reform would supplant ObamaCare at the top of the political agenda; by year’s end it was law.
 
The economy and tax reform are now a formidable one-two punch hammering Trump’s opponents. For now, Trump's hardcore opposition still outweighs his strong support at 39/35 percent. But that means a quarter of the electorate is in neither camp.
 
What’s worse for Trump’s critics is that tax reform’s impact on the economy is still just beginning.  
 
Tax reform’s first effect was company bonuses to workers. Initially isolated incidents, these have become much more widespread and regularly garner attention. Now as tax cuts take effect in paychecks, tax reform’s impact is far broader.
 
Next, continued economic growth will start to raise wages, as profits and demand for labor grow. Finally, continuation beyond the short-term will bring a “wealth effect” — a material response in voters arising from greater security in an improved economic condition.
 
If tax reform continues to strengthen the economy — and all signs indicate it will — its improvement will not only be relatively better, but look even more so compared to its preceding period.
 
Last year’s pre-tax reform economy produced 2.3 percent real GDP growth. Historically, that is mediocre; however, compared to Obama’s 1.5 percent average, it looks strong. As proof, this “mediocre” performance has fueled Trump’s recovery.
 
If the early part of the economic recovery is proving so capable of separating Americans from opposition to Trump, how much more so will a larger and sustained recovery do?  Thus far, Trump’s success appears to be among those without strong opinion either for or against him. Besides converting more of the unaligned, could economic success begin to cut into Trump’s hardcore opposition?
 
It is also important to remember that Trump does not necessarily need to have overwhelming support to win reelection in 2020. He won in 2016 with just 46 percent of the popular vote. His current 50 percent job approval rating is therefore well ahead of 2016 voters’ prediction of the job he would do.
 
In physics, a wedge is one of the basic machines. It yields a disproportionate outcome, producing results unachievable without it. In politics, the economy is arguably the most basic machine. Successful use of it translates into political success like few other issues.
 
President Trump’s admittedly limited economic success — really only two quarters of good growth so far and an overall mediocre year — has begun a political recovery that parallels the economy’s. Now, fueled by tax reform, that economic recovery is likely only in its early stages.
 
Like a wedge, the economy is driving into his opposition and splitting it apart. How much greater will its effect be as the thin edge of its recovery sinks deeper into the electorate?
 
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987-2000.