For Democrats, the coronavirus was supposed to be a blessing in disguise. Not only can they sit back in the peanut gallery and blame Trump for every single person that dies from the disease, they can take advantage of the surprise corollary: A major economic recession. Trump’s dominating economy was the single-biggest edge the president had going into the 2020 election, and even Democrats were beginning to wonder if they could convince voters to pull the lever against steady 2-3% growth. But now…oh boy, now they can pretend as though both the pandemic and the recession are Trump’s fault.
Unless, of course, the economy bounces back before the election.
In early April, Jason Furman, a top economist in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard, was speaking via Zoom to a large bipartisan group of top officials from both parties. The economy had just been shut down, unemployment was spiking, and some policymakers were predicting an era worse than the Great Depression. The economic carnage seemed likely to doom President Donald Trump’s chances at reelection.
Furman, tapped to give the opening presentation, looked into his screen of poorly lit boxes of frightened wonks and made a startling claim.
“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” he said.
The former cabinet secretaries and Federal Reserve chairs in the Zoom boxes were confused, though some of the Republicans may have been newly relieved and some of the Democrats suddenly concerned.
“Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and GDP growth ever.
Since then, Furman has been contacting everyone he knows from the Clinton and Obama administrations as well as reaching out to those currently working with the Biden campaign. His numbers are putting panic into the Democratic ranks. Because if Trump and the Republican Senate can preside over the single greatest (and fastest) economic recovery in U.S. history, Joe Biden’s chances of winning in November shrink to almost nothing.
Asked about Furman’s analysis, White House economist Larry Kudlow said, “I totally agree. Q3 may be the single best GDP quarter since regular data. 2nd half super big growth, transitioning to 4% or more in 2021.”
Do not doubt for one second that Democrats will do everything they can to make sure those forecasts fail. If that means extending the shutdowns, so be it. If it means going on TV with reckless predictions about the disease, they’ll do it. If it means deliberately holding back the recovery with stalled bills and bad-faith legislation, they won’t hesitate.
The season of deception has only just begun.