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Trump economy was better for the average American … period

Trump economy was better for the average American … period

President Biden is basing his campaign on two issues – Bidenomics and demonization of President Trump.  Based on polling results, neither of these strategies is resonating well with the American people.

The White House and the leftwing media have entered the outer space of hyperbolic hysteria in trying to convince the public that Trump is a new Hitler who will assume dictatorial power and end all future elections.  The speculation and accusations get increasingly ridiculous and outrageous as Trump’s polling numbers continue to rise – now showing him defeating Biden.  Although there is sufficient evidence, those on the left do not seem to realize that it is their demonization of Trump – and the entire Republican Party – is fueling Trump’s high polling number.

Democrats are divided on the two-pronged strategy.  Some argue that Biden should ignore Trump and focus on the economy, since it is almost always the voters’ number one issue when heading to the polls. Other Democrat strategists say nothing is important other than convincing voters that the 2024 presidential election is an existential choice between the American democracy and their fantastical fascist dictatorship.

Neither strategy appears to be working.  Trump is the odds-on favorite to secure the GOP nomination and is leading Biden in most major polls.  The end-of-the-Republic strategy is not working because it is just too outrageous … too unbelievable … too unreal.  And it is too insulting to half the American public.  It is political snake oil, and voters know it.

The economy is a different issue.  According to Team Biden, we are living in one of the best economies ever.  Everything is coming up roses.  The only problem is “messaging,” so they claim – even though their message is being carried in the media in a daily basis.  Still, Biden, Democrats, and the sycophantic media believe the people are not hearing their narratives enough.   They just cannot admit to themselves that the folks back home have gotten the message, but do not believe it. 

In view of all the messaging with regard to the economy, why do most folks think things are not going well?  Why do they believe they were economically better off under Trump?

The answers to those questions are simple.  Things are not going all that well for the average American.  And people know they were better off under Trump.  Since President Reagan asked voters in 1980 if there were better off then than after four years of President Carter, that question has become a traditional political litmus test. 

Democrats take the position that the public is simply wrong — we the people are not informed properly.  Essentially, they think we are stupid.  In terms of answering the essential question, people say they are NOT better off today than they were four years ago.  And do you know what?  We are not.

People understand that Biden came to office at the end of the Covid Pandemic’s self-imposed recession.  Folks remember the good economic times prior to the recession – during the Trump presidency.  The stock market was soaring.  The economy as measured by the Gross National Product was growing at a healthy rate.  The interest rates on mortgages were at record lows.  The price of housing was within the reach of many young buyers.  Unemployment was at record lows – with minorities being the greatest benefactors.  Wages were up and gas prices were down.  Disposable income (purchasing power) was up – meaning more savings and less credit purchases. During the Trump Presidency – 2017 to 2020 – disposable income rose 10 percent.

Then the Pandemic hit, and the economy was shut down by government – not by the people.  That is significant because there was a battle between progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans on the extent of the shutdown.  The economies (the people) hit hardest lived in blue states, like California.  Those who suffered less during the Pandemic lived in red states, like Florida.  Simply put, Democrats shut things down to a greater degree and a longer period than did Republicans.  Voters remember that when giving Trump and Republicans higher marks in handing the economy.

Prior to the Covid shutdown, unemployment under Trump had dropped to a 50 year low of 3.5 percent.  The number soared to more than 15 percent during the Covid shutdown.  It has now returned to 3.7 percent.  Unemployment levels have returned to pre-Covid Trump levels. 

Folks sitting around the kitchen table also understand that all the economic “gains” for which Biden and Democrats take credit are simply the economy automatically returning to pre-Covid levels.  Most of that gain was inevitable – not a matter of policy.   In fact, many economists believe Biden policies retarded the recovery and triggered higher inflation.

The stock market has continued to reach record highs – although the dollars gained have less value (purchasing power) because of inflation.   The Gross National Product regained a positive but slow growth under Biden.  But those are not what people consider as the all-important “kitchen table” issues.  Those are not the issues that directly impact their lives on a day-to-day basis.

When voters talk about “the economy,” they are essentially talking about their disposable income.  That is it.  Biden can parade his economic gurus before the cameras to tell us how great the economy is doing in macro academic terms, but for we the people, it still comes down to … how much a person earns … how much Uncle Sam takes … and how much a person can purchase with what is left.  That is the essence of personal budgeting.  That is what people are thinking about when they go to the polls – or when they respond to pollsters.

So, what does the “kitchen table” economy look like.  It is not as good as it was under Trump.  Whether you like Trump or not, that is the simple fact.  In fact, the peoples’ economy is a LOT worse than under Trump prior to the Pandemic.

The 500-pound economic gorilla in the room is … inflation.  Under Trump, the Federal Reserve interest rates were close to zero.  That meant very stable prices. Low mortgage rates.  Credit card interest was as low as 13 percent – and companies were offering an interest-free 12 to 15 months if you signed up.  Credit cards tied to specific services (like my auto repair shop) charged no interest if paid off in 12 months.

Inflation increases shelf label retail prices and all the costs credit costs. Interest rate increases  impact on retail sales prices because the entire supply chain relies on borrowed money at every step.

Even worse, to rein in inflation, the Federal Reserve has only one tool.  Increase interest rates to drive down employment and consumer spending.  In the crazy world of economics, you must cut costs by driving up the interest rates that tend to increase costs.  The Fed did that 11 times – and may still have more increases in the future.

The Fed’s interest rates kick off a chain reaction of interest rate increases. For example, the interest rate banks use to lend money to other banks in massive overnight transactions is between 5.25 and 5.5 percent – the highest in 22 years.  Average folks may not be aware of that portion of the economy, but it impacts on what they ultimately pay in both credit and retail purchases.

In May of 2020 – the last year of the Trump presidency — the inflation rate was .01 percent.  Under Biden it reached 8.5 percent in March of 2022.  It is increasing at a slower pace today – roughly 3 percent — but that is still producing significant monthly increases on top of all those previous increases.

Mortgage rates have more than doubled.  Under Trump, the mortgage rates were around 3.1 percent.  They are running at 7 percent under Biden.  Inflation and mortgage rates have increased the cost of housing.  That has put house ownership beyond the reach of millions of young people and young families.  And … it has also increased the cost of rental housing.

According to the Washington Post,** consumer confidence dropped to the lowest level ever in June of 2022.  The report said that Americans seem “downright despondent when it comes to their finances.” 

Consumer confidence is far lower than it was four years ago, and consumer spending is higher.  That is a dynamic ignored in Biden’s economic narrative.  He often cites consumer spending as an indication that the economy is strong and the people are benefiting.  So why is consumer confidence down? 

Biden does not consider HOW they are spending.  To understand what people feel, you need to understand that savings are down.  Inflation is forcing more and more people to spend every dollar they earn.  People in that situation do not feel good about the economy.

Even worse.  Much of the spending is credit based.  Credit card purchases have soared under Bidenomics – with credit card interest jumping between 7 to 10 points, for 13 percent to the mid-20s.  That means more folks are falling into the credit card trap in which they can hardly afford to pay off their interest charges each month.  Again, people do not feel good about an economy that puts them in unsustainable debt.

Then there is the issue of gas prices.  Not the per barrel costs that economists look at but the pump price.   Under Trump, it was as low as $1.80 per gallon.  Under Biden they rose to record highs of $5.00 per gallon.  That is a $48 dollar difference per 15-gallon fill-up.  Based on vehicle types and usage, many Americans were seeing an INCREASE in their monthly gasoline cost of $100 to $150 more than in the Trump era.  And like interest rates, increasing gas prices add to the supply chain costs at every step.

Political consultant James Carville said “It’s the economy, stupid” to indicate what drives a person’s vote.  But it is not the macro economy.  I would paraphrase it by saying “It’s the family budget, stupid.”

For the wealthy class, the question of whether they are better off under Biden than under Trump is meaningless.  They have sufficient income and resources to live large in either case.  It is the vast majority of Americans who live off their income who are dissatisfied. 

They are the folks telling pollsters that the economy was better under Trump – and that they trust Trump more than Biden on handling the economy.  They are the voters telling pollsters that they are not happy with Bidenomics.  They are not buying Biden’s narrative of good times because they are not living in them.  The simple fact is that the general public was better off under Trump’s pre-Covid economy – and they know it.

So, there ‘tis.

** Most, but not all, of the numbers in this commentary were reported in the Washington Post.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

21 Comments

  1. Harold blankenship

    Trump was better than everything about America. Especially our freedom and national security. The constant polling reports Biden sucking hind tit and it’s very unlikely to change. So don’t call it win for the retard administration in November. Don’t even think about it Frank. Just lick your wounds and stfu.

    • Larry Dash

      Guess this guy forgot that Trump inherited his great economy from Barack Obama… low gas, low inflation, roaring market, low interest rates and great job growth. It’s amazing how this guy credits Trump with everything and forgot everything else. I don’t want a cheating lying anti-democratic vile man as President and the majority doesn’t either.

      • Harold blankenship

        So vote for retard Joe and his token ho

  2. FRANK STETSON

    Thank you Mr. Horist for confirming that I am not average nor part of the Biden camp because the economy did not treat me the way that you say NOR have I ever claimed the crap you say Democrats did re: the economy. I will challenge your idiotic glowing Trump economy spin masterpiece in a subsequent passage but trust me that the word: DEBT will be featured. Gee, you left if out, completely, totally, and without reservation. Wonder why? Because what goes around comes around, and since you LOVE the policies, I guess you are ready for “please sir, can I have some more debt” US policy garnering free money for all with NO THOUGHT to the future. After all, he’s a brilliant businessman who cheated and corrupted his way to fame and fortune, as proven by the facts, in court, and did and will do again the same to the country. But ssssh, don’t talk about that.

    Meanwhile, let’s go to an expert. As an investment house, I like Columbia Threadneedle, their funds have done me well, and I like their advice. This quarter, granted they are looking for investors, notes: “The economic data in 2023 was better than expected: inflation fell, employment remained resilient and we didn’t end up in recession — in fact, growth was impressively resilient. All of this “good news” forced the Fed and other central banks to keep rates higher for longer. Now we’re seeing uncertainty around the timing of rate cuts and of the scale and timing of an economic slowdown introducing some fear into the market. Here are my thoughts as we head into 2024.”

    “Geopolitical risks may outweigh economic risks” section, I think we can skip, we get it.

    “Opportunities amid uncertainty. Investing as we head into 2024 will involve balancing one’s optimism for the global economy with the many uncertainties that we face.” As in buy safe Treasuries and Bonds but CT says look to equities outside the box as they expect expanding stocks from beyond what we are seeing today. Guarded optimism.

    “Differentiation is returning to the markets Through COVID and its immediate aftermath, we saw central banks and fiscal policy working toward the same effect: stabilizing economies. Their tactics may have differed, but the intent was largely consistent. Through 2023, we started to see some differentiation in policy and economic outcome return, and we think that may increase as we go through 2024.” Uh, this one seems to say — could be some roller coasters out there, but concludes: “The point is, we’re starting to see gaps open up, and we’re seeing that in valuations, too. At 18x forward earnings, U.S. stocks are quite a bit more expensive than European stocks at 12x and Japanese stocks at 14x. I don’t think valuation alone is the right reason to make a regional bet now, but it’s another example of growing differentiation.” OK — tough one, but given I still have a little international investments, I am holding because 1) covid tanked them and 2) they ain’t back yet. However, international, especially Asia markets move ahead and behind us, but more faster. IE —- they tanked, they are doing worse, but we are expensive and if the economy continues to improve, they may rebound, and fast. Unfortunately, I am in catch up, but if I was looking for risk/reward, the world might be my oyster.

    The conclusion: “The economy appears to be traveling on a path guided by low or even slowing growth, falling inflation and high interest rates. There are those who believe a deeper recession is possible because of lingering high interest rates, and those who expect inflation to go up because of continuing economic strengthening, an OPEC production cut or the impacts of war. Investors should prepare for that middle road between those outcomes, which I think is the most likely scenario over the next six months.” Makes sense to me.

  3. FRANK STETSON

    “Disposable income (purchasing power) was up – meaning more savings and less credit purchases. During the Trump Presidency – 2017 to 2020 – disposable income rose 10 percent.” That’s a beautiful thing. Not sure where Hoirst got these numbers, actually look low, but …. there it tis.

    Wonder why the author magically goes to a four-year view instead of a 2-year pre-pandemic view?

    In the last four years of Obama, DI rose 13%. Close to 20% for his entire 8 years in the White House during the Republican caused The Great Recession. Clinton did over 33% in his eight years making Trump’s results chump change, PERIOD.

    Second, I looked at the FED chart for DI. Judge for yourself on the facts not evident in the story. Note what happens in 2020 plus the first month of 2021 when Trump dropped his “vote for me” stimulus he approved in 2020 desperately shilling votes with tax dollars, but flummoxing the process, so announced in 2020 but delivery got delayed to 1/21, but really on Trump’s watch. Can you see why Hoirst needed all four years? Covid stimulus printing of free money creating the YUGEST deficit ever in US history leading to the YUGEST national debt ever in America. There are a quantifiable reasons people had more money —– Trump gave it to them by borrowing from China and others.

    * https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DSPIC96*

    Also, look at the chart and eyeball the trendline. Even to the naked eye, beyond covid shifts, do you see ANYTHING miraculous in the DI trendline during Trump? Toggle between max, 5yr and 10yr to see how similar the increases are over time. Note the stimulus which was life support for some, free money for others. Horist loves the POLICIES of pelf that gave people free money by sacrificing our kid’s futures. Period. Blaming covid does not change that fact.

    Mark my words – you let this guy in office again and he will repeat what he does in business, he will repeat what he did in government, and he will stroke your emotions with his lies bounded by cash from China feeding your false narrative of his success. He is a bankrupt human with many a business bankruptcy for a business hell bent on living by debt, recently restructured his own at ridiculous rates, amazing since any prudent financial institution would cancel him. He faces massive fines and expenses due to court cases, many due to his frequent cheating at business. The guys buying his debt are unknown, but my bet is they are hoping for a bigger payoff than money. He will make you feel financially safe while floating the US loan on China being bankrolled by mystery men for unknown reasons. On top of all this, Trump promises, has stated numerous times, his promise to restructure US debt which will be the economic end of us all. It is sovereign financial suicide.

    FYI: sidenote. Tom asks sometimes the four year, are u better off, question. Just did my first run at 4q23; I brought in 150% of my yearly salary in one quarter. Truth be known, combination of luck, conservative financial choices, and being in the whole after the Trump crash. My fixed interest returns strategy is kicking in, average interest is just under 5%, and equities and the rest are taking off. Much of what I have returns 6% or better on the dividends, so my “value stock” investments are buffering any storms as well. If this keeps up, and I don’t think it will, oh my will I vote BIDEN. I may even listen to Threadneedle’s suggestion to try some international.

    Sorry, Horist —- but I do get it and can add and subtract.

  4. FRANK STETSON

    As Horist notes, Americans are still feeling pretty dour about the economy and, numbers aside, feelings are what will drive both the economy and the election. Who cares if the numbers are pretty good if we the people are still feeling the pain.
    However, IMO, Biden has every possibility of pulling it out depending on the Spring. Christmas season was not gangbuster, but it was not bad. That’s encouraging. All the statistics are OK, if not downright good. Trickle down has not occurred, people are recession worried, gas and inflation prices shocked the system, and Biden will need some luck. But it can be done, Americans are fickle and fast to change their minds based on feelings.

    Horist mentions the Consumer Confidence numbers, a good stat to gauge feelings. Here’s how The Conference Board adds another dimension. That is, things looking better, not a massive upwards trajectory, but better. This can matter IF it increases by Spring. I believe The Conference Board OWNS the Consumer Confidence statistic.

    *https://www.conference-board.org/topics/consumer-confidence/press/CCI-Dec-2023*

    The headline for the December 2023 numbers is “Consumers End 2023 with a Surge in Confidence and Restored Optimism For 2024” It’s their statistics, they are the experts. Not Horist.

    It’s a good read IMO.

  5. JoeyP

    “Beijing Joe” Biden is WORTHLESS! . . . except to the CHINESE (“Chicoms”) and Illegal IMMIGRANTS. Why isn’t he IMPEACHED, convicted and in FEDERAL PRISON for Sedition and TREASON, Malfeasance and giving aid to the INVADING force to our SOITHERM Boeder?!? Just Sayin’.

  6. Andrew Gutterman

    Trump added $8 trillion to the economy, is it any wonder we did so well? Now we are all paying for that with the highest inflation in 50 years.

    Thank you, Trump

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MABMM301USM189S

  7. Darren

    Well I think a BIG Congratulations is in order for Mr Frank!
    He apparently knows the secret to making money with a worthless Administration in office!
    As the only person on this site making vast amounts of good fortune please share your secret with the rest of us?

    Larry’s article is not only correct but it is what many of us have been feeling all along!
    It is a little bit hard to keep any funds in your wallet when Biden policies have created a big hole in the side of it!

    With this said, Bush was no different.
    AAHH, maybe this is why I am a MAGA guy!

    • FRANK STETSON

      Darren, pretty much said it above. Fixed income investments, value equities, and a few other like defense mutual (which I sold last week in Dec, not at the apex, but close). Fact is being in the hold post Trump, some of it is rebound. But, one more quarter like this and I will blow the Trump numbers away. Only a few croppers in the bunch, like Disney, which is certainly not a value equity.

      Actually, on most of the numbers, Biden outdoes Trump, it’s just that it’s not even across the citizenry.

      Horist’s number seem OK, his conclusions seem whack and he leaves a lot out. I agree many people don’t see it yet, the inflation spike was scary, and the Trumpian free money has disappeared over time. Time to put on the big boy pants and do the work. If people had buffered some of their free money against a rainy day, there would be less angst in the land I suppose. But we are Americans and most of us don’t roll that way. Just keep kicking those cans down the road.

  8. Mike f

    Larry, So much bullshit in your post, I scarcely know where to begin. The ‘great’ economy that you say we had under trump was inherited from Mr Obama-trump did absolutely nothing to change the trajectory that the economy was on during most of the Obama years-it could have grown faster, but the ignorant republicans in congress would not allow further stimulus, so the economy continued to grow-very slowly. Then we had the uncalled for tax cuts of 2017-recall those did absolutely nothing for the average person, nothing for the GNP, but did add to the deficit dramatically and oh yes-the wealthy did benefit substantially (and those cuts were made permanent-ignorant schlock’s like yourself only got a temporary tax cut). Then, you mention inflation-joyous in the fact that it was only .1% in May 2020. Such ignorance-do you recall how many people were out of work during that period? Stupid! Of course you tell us that blue state economies fared worse than red states during the pandemic era-you neglect to mention a sordid little detail that far more people died in red states later in the pandemic than in blue states (the only reason that the numbers are even close is that early on the pandemic hit blue states harder due to their foreign travel-new York due to Italy, California due to China). And now you talk about inflation-not due to anything Biden has done, but due to issues worldwide resulting from the pandemic. Recall-we are doing better in that regard than any of the other major countries in the world-doesn’t Biden deserve credit for that? Of course I know that you won’t mention that-you have been a failure your entire life, and instead of taking stock in why you were a failure, you prefer to blame the nasty democrats for your life troubles. And so it continues..

  9. FRANK STETSON

    Horist pontificates based on “you know who” numbers and bloviates based on the same.

    Well, look for yourself and decide, based on the numbers, is he right? The economy in 12 charts from “you know who.” NOTE the RECESSION IS ON TRUMP’S WATCH.

    *https://www.(name-of-newspaper).com/business/2023/12/23/trump-biden-us-economy-compared/*
    BUSTED for bad attitude :>)

    (just kidding, Horist has the right numbers, it’s his opinion, people do feel bad and that’s the important part) NOT BUSTED — kidding.

    Yet, judge for yourself and IMO, Biden could still pull this out if we stay the course and the daffodils bring a happy Spring. Warm winter does not hurt (except the Eastern ski spots).

  10. Andrew Gutterman

    The last three years have been my BEST years ever for my business and the income I derive from that.

    • Wylie cook

      You must be involved in a crooked business

  11. Wes Kussmaul

    This whole post is nonsense.

    The economy is healthier for everyone today than in 2017-20.

    PS I am not a Democrat.

    • Jim wampler

      Just a dumbass

    • larry Horist

      Wes Kusssmaul … “..healthier for everyone..”? Your opinion does not comport to the opinions of most (roughly 60 percent) Americans according to the polls. They sat they like the Trump economy better. How do you explain that?

      • Mike f

        Larry-There was no ‘trump’ economy-he did absolutely nothing to improve the economy. The only action he did was to start a trade war, which forced him to pay off the farmers so they would vote for him in 2020. He inherited the economy that was in place till the pandemic hit. Yes, people prefer the low inflation and low interest rates during that period-but neither were due to trumps actions, nor have the increases been caused by anything Biden has done. Just more examples of Larry whining about his failed life and how the evil democrats are to blame…

  12. AC

    Horist always stands by his opinions in his beliefs. All who care to oppose his rendition of historical facts are jokesters. What do my detractors’ opinions amount to, says he. Not a penny, says he.
    So, there ‘tis, sums I up the matter in the way of the autocratic personality, shutting down further conversation. So, there ‘tis bluntly means I HAVE SPOKEN!! And that’s all there it to it, says he of PBP’s oldest and best.
    We can all go home now. There’s nothing to see here.

  13. FRANK STETSON

    Had a great post, but censored perhaps due to length????

  14. FRANK STETSON

    Nope, something is triggering the “banned” button ….. being censored for some strange reason.