No credit where credit is due
The quote is attributed to President Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan kept it on his desk: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
It is even more amazing what has been accomplished with the American economy, but Democratic presidential candidates, the media and economists such as Paul Krugman of The New York Times refuse to give President Trump any credit. Recall that it was Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, who predicted that Trump’s election would trigger “a global recession.” One continues to wait in vain for an “I was wrong” statement from him.
The Economist, a center-left British magazine that includes coverage of events in the U.S. and is no fan of the Trump administration, recently published a remarkable editorial that contains gems Republicans should quote between now and the next election. They include a strong rebuke to the contention of many Democrats that “working people” are still struggling and that the improved economy continues to benefit only the wealthiest 1 percent.
The bleak picture painted by Democrats, the editorial says, “is at odds with reality.” The Economist refers to a worldwide “jobs boom” and (note to Bernie Sanders and others promoting socialism) asserts that, “Capitalism is improving workers’ lot faster than it has in years … the zeitgeist has lost touch with the data.”
Noting that U.S. unemployment at 3.6 percent is the lowest in 50 years, the magazine says, “Less appreciated is the abundance of jobs across most of the rich world.”
A more educated population, the matching by websites of jobs to qualified applicants, and, yes, economic stimulus efforts that helped fuel the emergence of economies from the last recession have all contributed to the American economy and many European economies.
Then there is this, which has been the gospel of conservatives for decades when it comes to welfare and its disincentive for many to find work: “… reforms to welfare programs, both to make them less generous and to toughen eligibility tests, seem to have encouraged people to seek work.”
This has forced liberal politicians to shift their focus from the unemployed to the “quality” of jobs. British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is quoted as saying, “Our jobs market is being turned into a sea of insecurity.”
“Reality begs to differ,” says The Economist. “Official projections” predict that by 2026, “America will have more at-home careers than secretaries.” Jobs and the skills necessary to fill them are changing, but not so rapidly that workers — and especially younger people — cannot adjust their education and training to match the new requirements.
Wages are rising almost everywhere, and, as the editorial says, tight labor markets “lead firms to fish for employees in neglected pools, including among ex-convicts. … American wonks fretted for years about how to shrink the disability-benefit rolls. Now the hot labor market is doing it for them.”
This is the argument that conservatives, many Republicans and the Trump administration have been making for some time. Economic growth, not government, raises most boats.
While acknowledging “the jobs boom will not last forever” and that a recession will eventually “kill it off,” the editorial concludes that the economic boom “deserves a little appreciation.”
It deserves more than that and would be more than appreciated if it all happened under a Democratic president. Republicans and the Trump administration should seize on this reality and promote it every day, asking voters if they want to continue with these successful policies or return to low economic growth and fewer jobs.
It is a question Democrats and their policies of higher taxes and reimposed regulations will find difficult, if not impossible, to answer.
Cal Thomas is a Creators Syndicate columnist.