Andy Puzder: Democrats doing their best to scare Americans but our economy is robust, there's room for growth

Arguing against this vibrant economy is becoming more difficult every month

For those of you looking -- praying -- for a break from the Democrats impeachment farce, there’s new and very positive polling from Fox News and Gallup on the economy.  The results were very encouraging for Americans in general -- and for Republicans in particular.  For the Democrats, arguing against this vibrant economy is becoming more difficult every month.

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According to a new Fox News poll released on Sunday, 55 percent of Americans rate the economy as “excellent” or “good,” the highest percentage since January 2001.  A record-high 20 percent say the economy is “excellent” up from 3 percent in December 2016 -- the Obama administration’s final month.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, Americans credit Trump for the improved economy.  Asked who or what they think is most responsible for the current economy, 42 percent credited Trump and Republicans while only 9 percent credited Obama and Democrats and 7 percent credited big business.

Gallup’s economic confidence numbers for January similarly showed that Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy is higher than at any point since October 2000, with 62 percent of Americans rating the economy as "excellent" or "good" and 59 percent saying its "getting better." As a further indication of Americans’ economic confidence, the percentage of Americans naming economic issues as the country's greatest problem dropped to 10 percent. By a full percentage point, that’s the lowest percentage since Gallup began compiling mentions of economic issues in 2001.

Gallup summed the situation up nicely: “Rarely in the years that Gallup has tracked public ratings of the economy, since the early 1990s, have Americans had higher confidence in the economy than they do now.”  Obviously, with an election coming, this is bad news for Democrats.  Even Gallup acknowledges that this “greater confidence could serve as a boost to the reelection prospects of President Donald Trump.”

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So, despite the Democrats' best efforts, dire warnings of an economic collapse or an impending recession just don’t seem to have convinced Americans that their economic sky is falling.

That may surprise you if you’ve been watching the millionaires and billionaires on the Democratic presidential debate stage describe how millionaires and billionaires are bilking ordinary Americans and holding back what would otherwise be dynamic economic growth.  Apparently few people outside the hardcore Progressive bubble believed that anyway.  So, what else is there for the Democrats to argue?

Democratic financier extraordinaire George Soros has a suggestion.  Speaking at a dinner in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday, Soros said that  “Trump’s economic team has managed to overheat an already buoyant economy.”  Apparently, the economy was actually “buoyant” rather than heading towards recession as Democrats and their media allies argued last August, inverted yield curves be damned.  Rather, Soros argues that this economy is so good it can’t last.

According to Soros, “an overheated economy can’t be kept boiling for too long. If all this had happened closer to the elections, it would have assured [Trump’s] reelection.  His problem is that the elections are still 10 months away, and in a revolutionary situation, that is a lifetime.”

I’m not sure what “revolution” Soros is waiting for, but he’s engaging in wishful thinking on the economy.  The current economic surge should continue through at least the upcoming election, if not the election in 2022.

While we are surely at or very near full employment, as of November (the most recent month for which we have the data) there were still about 1 million more job openings than people unemployed.  This is strong evidence that the competition for employees that has been driving wage growth will continue.  With more people employed at higher wages and taking home more of what they earn (thanks to the Republican tax cuts), consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of our economic growth, should remain strong.

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But what about the impact of President Trump’s trade policies on economic growth? In September, the Federal Reserve released a study suggesting that trade policy uncertainty could reduce U.S. economic output by more than 1 percent through early 2020. That risk strikes me as overstated, but, in any event, the uncertainties in trade policy have been meaningfully reduced since last September.

In January, Congress passed the US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (“USMCA”). According to a study by the United States International Trade Commission, the USMCA will increase GDP by $68.2 billion and employment by 176,000 jobs. It will “likely have a positive impact on U.S. trade, both with USMCA partners and with the rest of the world” benefiting “all broad industry sectors within the U.S. economy.” The largest “gains in output, exports, wages, and employment” would be in the manufacturing sector.

Also in January, President Trump signed the “phase one” trade agreement with China reducing the trade tensions with that country.  In addition to “structural reforms and other changes in the areas of “intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange, China agreed to increase its purchases of U.S. exports by at least $200 billion over the next two years, reducing the trade gap and, like the USMCA, boosting U.S. GDP.

This is all in addition to President Trump’s and the Republicans’ ongoing regulatory reductions, tax cuts and focus on domestic energy production, all of which have been energizing economic growth and driving a blue collar/middle class economy -- much to the consternation of progressives.

Of course, no economic recovery lasts forever, but this economy is robust, not overheated; there is a lot of room for growth going forward, and it will continue to benefit Americans regardless of race, age sex or financial status.  As the Fox News and Gallup polls demonstrate, the American people get this despite ongoing efforts to convince them either that it isn’t happening or that it can’t last.

Andy Puzder was chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants for more than 16 years, following a career as an attorney. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. He was nominated by President Trump to serve as U.S. labor secretary. In 2011, Puzder co-authored "Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why Government Doesn't Understand It." His latest book is "The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left's Plot to Stop It" (Center Street, April 24, 2018). 

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