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SAUNDERS: 2024 could be a race between Bidenomics, Trump tax cuts

WASHINGTON

CBS News wants you to know that if you think the U.S. economy isn’t doing well, you’re ignorant. Its website includes a four-question quiz to test your knowledge on economic trends — and for all four, the correct answer is that the economy is doing better than naysayers think.

The U.S. is not in a recession, stocks are up, unemployment is near a 50-year-low, inflation is at 3.4 percent.

But if you’re experiencing sticker shock whenever you go to the grocery store, you understand why Americans nonetheless aren’t optimistic about the economy.

As Axios reported Thursday, fast food prices are up 31 percent since the COVID pandemic hit, but hourly wages are up 25 percent.

“Economists may say things are getting better, but we’re not feeling it where I live,” said Harris poll CEO John Gerzema, according to The Guardian. “Unwinding four years of uncertainty takes time. Leaders have to understand this and bring the public along.”

If that’s even doable.

The Swing State Project — a research collaboration between the Cook Political Report, BSG, and the GS Strategy Group — has latched onto why voters in six swing states prefer former President Donald Trump to incumbent President Joe Biden by a slim margin, even if they don’t trust Trump.

Trump came out ahead in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Trump and Biden are tied in Wisconsin.

It’s the economy, stupid.

That’s what Democratic strategist James Carville drilled into campaign workers for then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992. The then little-known Democrat won the party nomination, then the general election against then-President George H.W. Bush, by concentrating on meat and potatoes.

(Yes, Clinton had an assist from independent candidate Ross Perot.)

When the economy is scary, that’s all there is.

Or as Amy Walter and David Wasserman of the Swing State Project noted, “The cost of living defines this election.”

It’s difficult to watch Biden’s big spending bonanzas and not wonder how the accumulated national debt — which has exceeded $34 trillion, or more than $100k for every man, woman and child in America — will haunt the taxpayers of tomorrow.

Plot twist: The Tax Foundation recently warned, “Unless Congress acts, the vast majority of Americans will see higher, more complicated taxes beginning in 2026 as major provisions from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expire.”

Your share of the nation’s debt will have exceeded six figures, and your taxes may go up.

The Biden White House has to be acutely aware of that the president’s chances of re-election are not as bright as they seemed after Biden won in 2020.

Swing State Project respondents tended to be more optimistic about what the economy would look like in a second Trump term versus a second Biden term, even though 52 percent of respondents held a negative view of Trump.

“If Biden is still struggling in August he needs to consider stepping aside,” polling guru Nate Silver posted on X. “It’s not a great situation for Ds either way, but you have to do due diligence on the question. It’s an important election, obviously. It shouldn’t be taboo to talk about.”

Silver pointed out that if Biden fudges the first debate, scheduled for June 27, that might be a good time for a change.

And then Democrats can be free of the term “Bidenomics.”

Contact Review-Journal Washington columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

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