So, Donald Trump says his "gut" is better than most people's brains. Thus, the economy is not sliding into soft, potentially dangerous territory but is on an upward trajectory that will amaze us.
Trump also says he does not "believe" in the science of climate change. Now, since the federal government and 99 percent of the world's scientists do "believe," Trump's disavowal of the facts truly does take guts.
Nonetheless, Trump, once again remarking on his remarkable intelligence, told the Washington Post that "people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we're not necessarily such believers." Huh?
But enough digressing. Let's talk about the soaring economy, even though most people with ordinary brains think climate change will be devastating to everyone's economy.
If the 10-year run of economic growth is slowing, the most ominous sign so far is GM’s alarming announcement it will ax 15,000 jobs. Stunned workers were given no heads-up or chance to retool or to redesign. So much for Trump's pledge that the return of American manufacturing jobs was at hand. So much for growth in states such as Ohio and Maryland.
Also, Trump's incipient trade war with China is damaging the income of U.S. farmers and small businesses. His tariffs on steel and aluminum have hit the car industry hard.
Also, Trump himself said Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve Board chairman, whom he appointed to replace the widely admired Janet Yellen is undermining economic growth. The central bank has increased interest rates, which depresses buying and lending.
In a remarkable interview, in which Trump, as he regularly does, frequently asserted his astonishing intelligence and gut, he told the Post: "I'm doing deals, and I'm not being accommodated by the Fed. They're making a mistake because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me."
So much for his pledge that he would name America's best brains to advise him. (In a White House that has seen an historic number of changes, scandals, resignations, firings, backstabbings, etc.)
We are left uncertain exactly what deals Trump is talking about. Oh yes, he renamed the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and now nobody remembers what it is called. He got us out of the world climate change agreement. He has blown up trade with China and some other countries. He named disputed Jerusalem the de facto capital of Israel, roiling the Middle East. And he ignored the CIA's finding that Saudi Arabia's crown prince started a bloody war against Yemen and undoubtedly ordered the killing of a Saudi journalist living in America.
Meanwhile, back to the robust economy. The signs are good. The economy is growing at an annual rate of about 3.5 percent. The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent.
But Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut did not boost corporate confidence for more than a few months. Instead of expanding, providing higher wages and adding a significant number of new jobs, business gave out a few bonuses, bought back stock and is hoarding profits, often overseas.
Also, the stock market plunged several times recently, spawning a niggling worm of worry in some investors. Housing sales have fallen. The California fires and the spate of hurricanes have created regional ripples of dispiriting economic distress. A 3.5 annual growth rate is not sustainable.
Now Trump is repeating his intention to shut down the government if he doesn't get $5 billion for his wall, the mythical structure across the border that the experts say will not and could not ever be built. (Separating mothers and babies, jailing hundreds of teens in desert tent cities without adequate supervision and tear-gassing children are not doing the job of keeping Americans safe from migrants, Trump asserts.) The last Republican shutdown of the government cost the economy billions of dollars.
If you have faith in Trump's gut, you remain unworried. Let's hear it for that spectacular economy, going up, up, up, making the rich ever richer.
If you have more confidence in brains, as opposed to guts, you may be getting a trifle uncomfortable. Consumer confidence index levels indicate you are not alone.
– Ann McFeatters is a columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.