Republicans Should Not Trust Economic Models Alone in 2020

March 29, 2019 Updated: April 1, 2019

Commentary

The 2020 election is shaping up to be a clash of political ideologies and different economic policies. It also could be a test of predictive models with some economic models pointing to a landslide for President Donald Trump. If Republicans want to win in 2020, however, past economic laurels won’t be enough.

Now that the Mueller report is behind us, talk of the 2020 election is coming into focus. This recent headline in Politico adds to the good news for Trump and his fellow Republicans: “How Trump Is On Track for a 2020 Landslide.”

“The economy is just so … strong right now and by all historic precedent, the incumbent should run away with it,” Donald Luskin, chief investment officer of TrendMacrolytics, told Politico. According to the report, even “Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and a regular Trump critic, has been road-testing a dozen different economic models for the 2020 race. At this point, Trump wins in all 12.”

The economy, however, doesn’t tell the whole story in this divided era.

In 2012, President Barack Obama won re-election. He did so despite historically low labor participation rates, economic growth dropping throughout 2012, and an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent in October 2012. Just last November, Republicans lost 41 House seats despite a strong economy.

Many Democrats have moved beyond just the “economy, stupid.” They are vitally concerned with social issues and the replacement of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So important are these to them that, as 2012 and 2018 demonstrate, they vote Democrat regardless of the economy. We can now add to that their extreme desire to defeat Trump.

Nor is a good economy today a political guaranty for tomorrow. For instance, in 2006, during the second term of President George W. Bush, first-quarter economic growth was 5.6 percent. By year-end, however, the economy had slowed, and Republicans lost 31 seats in the House and six seats in the U.S. Senate, with Bush at the helm.

If we fast forward to today, we’re already reading headlines like: “Weak U.S. Data Underscore Growing Headwinds to Economy.” Those headwinds include increased spending and an increasing national debt; both tend to reduce economic growth.

So what should Republicans looking to win in 2020 do now? The short answer is: more.

As the president has suggested, Republicans must address health care. Voters should have reliable and stable access to health care. The lack of a plausible Republican alternative has hurt them since the idea of Obamacare came into being.

Republicans also need to offer plausible plans for downsizing government. The current spending rate is unsustainable. This should be an easy front, given that the Democratic presidential hopefuls’ desire to explode spending.

Republicans also need to continue to ease the regulatory burden on employers—large and small. Trump has done great things on the regulatory front. In response to data that the economy is weakening, he can’t just sit back. He has to further ramp up his regulatory reform efforts.

Finally, Republicans need to offer personal tax reform in 2020. No, the Democrats in the House won’t pass it. But if Republicans offer a tax reform agenda in 2020 as a rebuttal to the massive tax hikes offered by the Democrats, they will have a far greater chance of taking back the House and reelecting Trump.

Thomas Del Beccaro is the author of “The Divided Era” and is a former chairman of the California Republican Party.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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