Recent polls show, as they often tend to, that Americans trust Republicans more than Democrats on economic issues — this despite decades of evidence that GOP economic stewardship has been worse for all but the richest Americans and more prone to increase the deficit.
The political mileage the party is getting out of the issue going into Tuesday’s midterm elections is especially baffling because, even as they bash the Biden administration for its economic policies, Republicans are generally avoiding specifics about what they would do differently.
But there are some clues. And they aren’t encouraging.
Republicans have for years so relentlessly promoted the message that they know how to manage the economy that Americans of all political stripes tend to believe it, even though the reality is far different.
By just about any economic metric — unemployment, job creation, GDP growth, inflation, the deficit, even stock market returns — Democratic presidencies in the post-World War II era have posted significantly better numbers, on average, than Republican presidencies. That’s an easily confirmed fact using any reliable data out there.
Whatever people think of President Joe Biden’s proactive policies, they have, on many fronts, worked well. America’s economy is growing faster than at any time since the Clinton administration, while unemployment remains at historic lows. Yes, rising inflation (not caused by, but likely worsened by Biden’s cash-heavy American Rescue Plan) has cast a dark enough shadow that most Americans aren’t even noticing the bigger, better picture.
But that’s still not an excuse to let Republicans get around the essential question of what they would do instead if they retake Congress.
Among the few details some Republicans will offer about their economic intentions is that they might refuse to raise the debt ceiling as a lever to force unrelated budget cuts from Biden, including for Social Security and Medicare. Refusing to pay the nation’s already-incurred debts isn’t fiscal responsibility. When Republicans threatened it in 2011, they caused America’s first credit downgrade ever and added billions to the cost of government borrowing.
For low- and middle-income seniors, going after Social Security and Medicare should sound less like a budget-policy goal than a threat.
And if preventing too much money from flooding the economy is a panacea, why are no Republicans talking about scaling back their 2017 tax cuts for the rich? Because those cuts were grounded in trickle-down nonsense, they blew a $2 trillion hole in the budget without producing the new economic growth they were supposed to spur.
Americans should look to the British, with their revolving-door leadership lately, for clues about the effects of economic policies that just fetishize high-end tax cuts instead of offering a coherent strategy.
Then they should ask Republicans what, exactly, they’re offering beyond that.
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch