weather icon Clear

Trump accuses critics of trying to force a recession

Updated August 19, 2019 - 9:28 pm

WASHINGTON — The Trump White House struck back Monday at pundits and economists who warn that a recession is near.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of trying to “‘will’ the economy to be bad’ to win in 2020. Vice President Mike Pence made a pitch for a strong economy before the Detroit Economic Club, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway chided reporters outside the West Wing for being eager for bad economic news.

“It’s nice to see the media cover the Trump economy. You seem to cover it only when you can use the ‘Sesame Street’ word of the day, ‘recession,’” Conway remarked.

With the sluggish global economy, the White House decision to delay new tariffs on Chinese goods last week and an inversion in the bond-market yield curve that has been known to presage economic downturns, Trump also called for a 1 percentage point drop in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate to stimulate both the U.S. and global economies.

That came the day after Trump told reporters he sees no recession on the horizon and that while many economists cited his trade battle with China as cause for concern, “The tariffs have cost nothing, in my opinion, or certainly very little.”

Chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News Sunday that he saw no signs of a recession. “Consumers, first of all, they’re working,” and they are “saving while they’re spending.”

“We should not be afraid of optimism,” Kudlow concluded.

Since before Trump took the oath of office in January 2017, he has been able to point to strong economic news.

Ten years past the June 2009 end of the Great Recession — when economists might expect an economic downturn simply because of normal economic cycles — Trump has been able to boast low unemployment, solid economic growth and wage growth.

The unemployment rate of 3.7 percent has been near 50-year lows. Wages are expected to rise some 3 percent — greater than an inflation rate expected to finish lower than 2 percent.

GDP increased by 2.5 percent last year, down from the 3 percent the White House had anticipated.

While polls have shown Trump to be underwater in job approval — the Realclearpolitics polling average shows that 54.3 percent of voters disapprove of Trump’s job performance — voters give Trump a passing grade on the economy: 52.5 percent approval by the same polling average.

Trump has been banking on a strong economy to win in 2020. Stumping in New Hampshire last week, Trump told supporters, “You have no choice but to vote for me because of your 401(k).”

Kudlow is scheduled to participate in calls with state and local governments, the private sector and community leaders to update them on Trump’s economic agenda with its emphasis on deregulation and energy production. According to the White House, the calls have been planned long in advance.

Research fellow Joel Griffith of the conservative Heritage Foundation warned that predicting recessions can be a tricky business. “We can avert a recession if we continue to embrace pro-growth policies,” such as the Trump 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and Trump’s moves to peel back regulation.

Trump’s tariffs on China, Griffith said, “are a significant concern. It’s having a real impact on businesses and consumers, introducing uncertainty and higher costs. We estimate that the average family has enjoyed roughly $2,900 per year in tax savings, but new tariffs on Chinese goods will eat away more than $800 of those tax cuts this year.”

Another factor, beyond Washington’s control, are global economic woes that have dented the economies of Germany and China.

“I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a recession, I just don’t know when,” Senior Policy Director for the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget Marc Goldwein said. But he said given the economy’s overall strength, it’s possible a downturn could be avoided over the next two years.

If the economy does retract, it won’t be pretty. “We’re approaching trillion-dollar deficits and the economy’s strong,” Goldwein noted, adding. “Imagine when it’s weak.” The demand for more unemployment aid and food stamps means the deficit would grow.

Griffith believes some left-leaning pundits have been “rooting for a recession,” but he added, “I personally have a lot of doubt over whether or not you can talk our way into a recession.”

Kudlow agreed. He told the Review-Journal that recession doom-saying cannot damage the economy because “people know what’s in their wallets and their pocketbooks.”


Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says China trade deal unnecessary before election

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating penalties on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.

UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states

Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan.

Commissioners want Clark County to fight climate change

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones outlined steps this week he’d like to take to fight climate change, including hiring a sustainability director and adopting an action plan similar to the city of Reno.

Trump defends himself repeatedly against whistleblower’s complaint

President Donald Trump defended himself Friday against a whistleblower’s complaint, including a reported private conversation with a foreign leader. Meanwhile, the administration plunged into a showdown with Congress over access to the complaint.

US to send more troops to Saudi Arabia, UAE

The Pentagon says the U.S. will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security, as President Donald Trump has at least for now decided against any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio drops 2020 presidential bid

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday after struggling to gain traction in a sprawling field of candidates.