KOKOMO – We’ve finally found something that Republicans and Democrats agree on when it comes to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election: “It’s our version of the economy, stupid!”

In 2010 during a “60 Minutes” interview, President Obama famously speculated on employment and the economy, “What is a danger is that we stay stuck in a new normal where unemployment rates stay high. People who have jobs see their incomes go up. Businesses make big profits, but they’ve learned to do more with less. And so they don’t hire. And, as a consequence, we keep on seeing growth that is just too slow to bring back the eight million jobs that were lost. That is a danger. So, that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.”

The view of the Obama Administration did not change when in 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told the Economic Club of New York City that the U.S. GDP growth rate, adjusted for inflation, is now projected to run a little above 2% a year. Apparently, seventy years of GDP growth averaging more than 3% was going to be relegated to history by the “new normal” of 2% growth.

Consider this: From 2009 to 2014, real median income fell overall. Why? President Barack Obama’s regulations and taxes sat like a wet blanket over our economy.

Most of his policies were aimed at addressing perceived social injustices rather than stimulating economic growth. He believed that it was an injustice that every American did not have health insurance and that corporate CEOs made hundreds of times more income than the average worker. It was also an injustice that banks and big business took advantage of consumers.

Obama convinced Congress to pass Obamacare in 2010, which resulted in health insurance being extended to an additional six percent of the population. But Obamacare came with new taxes - 21 of them - and these helped suppress middle-class income, slowing economic growth.

The “Affordable Care Act” aka Obamacare, also forced employers to provide health insurance to all full-time workers or pay a fine, which could be as high as $3,000 per employee. This added to the cost of labor, which again had the effect of slowing growth. Since Obama defined a full-time employee as anyone working at least 30 hours per week, employers hired more part-time workers. This drove down household income and slowed economic growth.

Obama made the 2001 Bush tax cuts permanent for all Americans, except for the top income earners. For them, taxes increased by 10%. This reduced the amount of investment capital flowing into our economy, which slowed economic growth and tended to reduce household income.  

In order to address the problems perceived as predatory lending, Obama convinced Congress to pass the Dodd-Frank Act. The problem was that Dodd-Frank reduced all lending, which slowed economic growth and resulted in countless small community banks having to close their doors. This further reduced income and growth.

Do you still have any questions as to why Obama was the only president in history to never see economic growth above 3%? The economy averaged just over 2% for his entire two terms. 

Then along came Trump and a Republican controlled Congress. For those who like to decry the failed leadership of President Trump and his “do-nothing” Congress, let’s see what has happened in just the short 28 months since the President took his oath of office.

In short, President Trump has ignited the United States economy on fire. Confounding his critics in the media, the Democrat Party and in the fuzzy minds of the Never-Trumpers, the economy has grown over 3% per year, achieved the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years and posted a 27% stock market gain in the process. The newly created jobs have crossed all employment sectors and the biggest winners, American workers, have seen real growth in personal incomes.

Prosperity has touched everyone. Black unemployment is at its lowest level in history. Hispanic unemployment is at its lowest level in history. The unemployment rate among women is at the lowest level since 1953. Black, Hispanic and women’s income is up and rising.

These economic statistics are historical and politically powerful. They are also terribly distressing to Trump-haters everywhere. You know who you are!

What’s a political party devoid of ideas supposed to do when a Presidential election rolls around in the midst of such economic success? Make up stuff and give away free stuff. The 22-candidate Democratic clown car is engaged in a race to the bottom with a trunk-load of lies and misinformation. The luggage rack on top is stacked high with costly freebies to appeal to the clueless masses: Free tuition, paid-off student loans, racial reparations, free healthcare for all, basic living-wage cash giveaways, $15 minimum wage, astronomical new taxes, benefits for people who don’t like to work, lower-cost housing and millions of new high-paying jobs in the Green New Deal.

Democrats have settled on a strategy of making up their own version of our economy and telling the gullible that “It’s our version of the economy, stupid!”

On the other hand, Republican Donald Trump will be forced to run for re-election using traditional economic statistics. Let’s see what the Ronald Reagan “misery index” would give him. Unemployment is at record low? Check. Interest rates at historical lows? Check. Inflation at or below 2%? Check.

Mark my words, before this Presidential election is over, Democrats will blame Donald Trump for poor drive-thru service at Wendy’s. In a sad and twisted way, they will be right.  

And that’s a good thing. 

Dunn is the former Howard County Republican chairman.