Accuracy in Media

Are tax cuts losing their power to woo voters? Is overall prosperity? Mainstream media sure seems to think so recently.

It is becoming increasingly hard to argue the Trump administration is failing to manage the economy. The stock market has climbed above 25,000 for the first time ever and has gained more in value this year than ever before – despite being half the size it was 15 years ago.

Unemployment has bottomed out to near full-employment levels. Wages are up across the board, and unemployment is down. Consumer confidence is at its highest level in 17 years. Growth has inched above 3 percent – a level Obama never achieved as president – and could go as high as 4 percent or more by the end of this quarter.

With congressional midterm elections slated for November 2018, mainstream media seems desperate to chop this down to size and make sure President Trump gets none of the credit.

Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, pollsters for the Washington Post, took a stab at doing that in the Sunday Outlook section.

“For decades, Americans’ sense of how their nation was doing was closely linked to the economy,” Guskin and Clement wrote. “Through Democratic and Republican presidencies, through divided and unified sessions of Congress, Americans were consistent. When they saw jobs and GDP growing, an increasing number of people told pollsters that the country was headed in the right direction. And typically, they gave credit to the president.

“But in 2017, a highly upbeat economic outlook failed to elevate America’s generally pessimistic mood. Overwhelmingly, Americans have told us and other pollsters that they’re happy with the economy – and miserable about their country. It appears that polarization, frustration with Washington and, most of all, antipathy toward President Trump have severed the connection between economic progress and contentment.”

So, six in 10 told pollsters they personally had a good year economically in 2017 and seven in 10 said they personally had a good year. But 58 percent said it was a bad year for the country overall.

The story said four times as many people described the year with a negative word as a positive word. But not all the words included were necessarily negative. For instance, the most-mentioned term was “chaotic,” which could go either way. “Great” and “good” made the top 10, but so did “crazy,” “challenging,” “tumultuous,” “horrendous,” “disappointing” and “disastrous.”

Not for nothing, said the pollsters, 66 percent of the country said we are headed in the wrong direction. Of course, not for nothing has the number of Republicans saying the country is moving in the right direction jumped from 9 percent in 2016 to 59 percent today and the percentage of Republicans saying he’s doing a good job with the economy steamed past 80.

According to Guskin and Clement, the campaign promises that carried the most sway with Trump voters during the campaign were not what voters wanted, even though they voted for Trump. In many cases, one has to wonder how he ever got elected.

The ban on travel from terrorism-plagued countries whose emigrants’ IDs could not be verified was a huge applause line on the campaign trail. But Guskin and Clement claim 53 percent opposed the plan, and on the Pew Research “feeling thermometer,” attitudes toward Muslims have “warmed” eight degrees to 48.

Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border, which was credited with putting him over the top in a number of states, now pulls just 40 percent support, Gusksin and Clement claim.

Trump’s promise to repeal Obamacare – which had been responsible for Democrats losing both houses of Congress, the White House and more than 1,000 state and local offices to Republicans – only made Obamacare more popular, the pollsters said. It has grown from 40 percent support to 50 percent, even as news of double-digit price hikes and insurers dropping out of the market continued to appear.

It also has encouraged Democrats to think in even more radical terms – toward moving the country in the direction of single-payer health care. Support for single-payer – or Medicaid for all, as it was billed – was “higher in 2017 than in previous years,” the pollsters said, keeping the actual figures to themselves, and fell sharply when respondents were told they may face higher taxes and greater government involvement in their health care. 

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