Unfortunately, the worst non-Mueller-related news for Donald Trump’s 2020 prospects may come in the form of bad news for the American people. Signs are building that the economy could dip into recession, and while Trump’s advisers say there’s no problem at all, the economy is great, there’s reason to believe they just don’t get it:
While top officials like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argue that gross domestic product and inflation are the most important metrics to track, and that those figures remain healthy, other advisers say voters are focused on more tangible indicators, including wages, unemployment, and the housing and stock markets.
Trump may be laying the groundwork to blame other people for any economic downturn:
President Trump himself appears to be prepping for a slowdown by identifying scapegoats. Chief among them, for the moment, is Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell. Just last week, Trump blamed the independent Fed for the drop in the stock market as well as a recent plant-closing announcement by General Motors. Speaking to the Washington Post, Trump said he was “not even a little bit happy” with Powell, whom he nominated to run the Fed.
Trump “is more strategic about setting up the assignment of blame than people give him credit for,” said a second Republican close to the White House when asked about the attacks on Powell.
But here’s the thing: voters are not going to blame the Fed chair, and those who do know who the Fed chair is and what role he plays in the economy are likely to remember that Trump appointed this one. Voters are also not going to blame Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the economy, and if they do, again, they will remember that he’s Trump’s guy.
Trump is already unpopular during a relatively strong economy. He may think he can avoid blame for a recession by blaming his underlings or denying it’s happening, but he is so very wrong. For the sake of American workers, we have to hope he doesn’t have the chance to learn how wrong he is.