In a Sunday ABC News interview, Tom Steyer inadvertently demonstrated how hard it will be for Democrats to run against President Trump on the economy.
President Trump’s resiliency in the face of being impeached and amid the constant barrage of attacks against him since day one has been a source of immense frustration for Democrats in 2020, especially in the aftermath of his unapologetic State of the Union address and his acquittal after the Senate’s impeachment trial.
Adding an extra layer of frustration for Democrats are several recent polls on the economy, in which Trump has received record-high numbers and where a clear majority of the American people have expressed that they are better of now than they were in 2016.
With all that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Democrats have tried to counter the polls, as evidenced by former President Barack Obama trying to take credit for Trump’s economy in a tweet he posted on Monday. As Fox and Friends reported this morning, Trump characteristically pushed back on Obama’s claim:
— Fox & Friends First (@FoxFriendsFirst) February 18, 2020
Another tactic some Democrats have used is to suggest that the poll respondents simply don’t know what they’re talking about, as was the case with Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer in an interview he did with ABC News on Sunday.
During the segment, ABC’s Martha Raddatz grilled Steyer on how he would counter Trump on the economy considering that polls showed he was virtually untouchable on the issue. Steyer’s answer indicated he was in a state of denial about the numbers:
TOM STEYER: I think if you take a look at what he says, everything he says superficially sounds right but is actually a lie.
So when he says the economy is growing, I can show that, in fact, all the money’s going to rich people. When he says unemployment is low, which is true, I can show that the wages people are getting doesn’t support a family. And when he says the stock market is up, these are his three big statistics, it’s largely because of the huge tax break he gave to big corporations, but it also is — doesn’t matter that much because most of the stocks — 85 percent of the stocks are held by the top 10 percent of — 10 — ten percent of the richest Americans.
RADDATZ: But — but I want to go back to that 70 percent number.
STEYER: So it’s — this has been —
RADDATZ: You talk — you talk about the wealthy. They’re not all wealthy people. Seventy percent say the economy is good and they’re doing well.
When Steyer accused Raddatz of “standing up for Mr. Trump’s version of the economy,” she let him have it:
RADDATZ: I’m telling you about a national poll. I’m standing up for anybody. I’m telling — I’m telling you about a national poll.
STEYER: And what I’m saying is this, there is a different story of this economy and this country that has to be told. Mr. Trump has to be face down about what he’s saying on the economy because he is running on the economy. That’s exactly what he’s going to say. He’s going to say, I’m great on the economy and Democrats stink.
Watch their contentious exchange below:
Martha Raddatz asks Tom Steyer why 70% of the American people rate the Trump economy as 'excellent' or 'good.’
Steyer: “You’re standing up for Mr. Trump’s version of the economy.”pic.twitter.com/4s7BuHGxbr
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 17, 2020
What Steyer inadvertently did there was to demonstrate how hard it will be for Democrats, especially the eventual nominee, to run against Trump on the economy.
If you contrast what Steyer is saying versus what Obama said, the Democratic messages on the state of the economy are muddled and come across as incoherent.
Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledged last year that the economy was “doing well” but placed credit for it at Obama’s feet, not Trump’s. But while on the campaign trail over the last year, Sanders has also preached about so-called “income and wealth inequality.” He also claimed the current strength of the economy is allegedly due to the rich getting richer while everyone else is left behind.
But polls released over the last few months strongly counter that narrative. Assuming the economy keeps on humming along and more polls are released showing more favorable numbers for Trump on that front, Democratic candidates like Sanders and Steyer are going to need to pick one lane on the economy and stay in it. They have a few options:
1) The American people are really not better off even though they think they are.
2) If they are indeed better off, it’s not due to Trump but because of Obama.
3) If they are better off because of Obama, Obama’s economic policies enabled the so-called “economic inequality” Sanders often talks about, which means the economic boom only helped people who didn’t really need it.
4) If they are better off because of Trump, Trump’s economic policies supposedly caused only the rich to get richer.
Which message will they choose?
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.