Why Do Voters Trust Republicans on the Economy More Than Democrats?

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“For all of the ‘pain at the pump’ stories, the answer is that wages and salaries have kept pace with inflation since Biden took office—and by this measure, most Americans are much better off than before the pandemic hit in 2020, and before he took office in 2021.”

—Robert J. Shapiro, Economist

I just don’t get it. OK; I get the part about the administration in office bearing the brunt of responsibility. Inflation is tough—especially for people whose budgets are already stretched—though it’s a worldwide problem and the US is less affected than many Western European countries.

But are people’s memories so short? Do they not remember the huge tax cut that was the only economic initiative from the former guy’s dreadful four years?

Are they unaware that when President Biden took office, we were in the throes of the pandemic, with massive unemployment that’s been essentially erased?

Do they not realize that historically, Democratic administrations are far better for Americans economically than are the trickle-down Republicans?

And are they unaware that when the Biden administration proposed inflation-fighting legislation that the Democrats passed, no Republicans voted for it?

And when reporters interview the voters who tell them they trust Republicans more to handle the economy, do they ever ask the follow-up question: WHY?

The quotation at the beginning of this post appears in an article that provides some solid information refuting the long-held but false assumption. It appeared in Washington Monthly last month, written by Robert J. Shapiro, an economist who formerly led the International Monetary Fund and is an adviser to policy makers and businesses.

The piece is titled “Yes, Americans Are Better Off Under Biden. “

Shapiro begins with Ronald Reagan’s closing argument in his final debate with Jimmy Carter. He asked Americans “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Shapiro suggests that Republicans aren’t asking that question today because they know better: “Based on jobs, incomes, wealth, poverty, and health insurance, Americans are better off today, including inflation.” 

The jobs record is indisputable, he says: “…more than 9.5 million unemployed Americans found jobs over the past 18 months, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.4 to 3.5 percent.”

The income picture is more complex because of the pandemic, which brought massive unemployment, supply problems, and energy cost increases that fueled inflation. Generous government spending led to the economic recovery but also was inflationary.

Thus, it’s necessary to examine how much inflation has cut into the “record 14.9 percent surge in overall wage and salary income since Biden took office.”

For most people, the answer appears to be “it hasn’t.” Wages and salaries have been sufficiently high to offset inflation, and “most Americans are much better off than before the pandemic hit in 2020, and before he [Biden] took office in 2021.”

I’m not including the specific details and technical note Shapiro provides to back up his assertions, but those who’d like to dig deeper can do so using this link.

“The math may sound complex, but in fact it’s simple: In June 2022, the average working American earned $74,643 in wages and salaries, compared to $74,624 in January 2021 and $70,274 in February 2020. Even with 9.5 million more people working, the average working person earned as much in June, after inflation, as when Biden took office.”

Thus, he states:

“The answer to Reagan’s question is ‘Yes’ on wages and salaries as well as jobs, a remarkable achievement given the pandemic.” 

He adds that the government assistance to help us through the pandemic and the job growth that followed have made Americans “significantly wealthier than before Biden took office” through savings and spending that bolstered employment.

“According to the Federal Reserve, after inflation the net assets of Americans increased by nearly $2 trillion from the first quarter of 2021—when Biden took office—to the first quarter of 2022. (We exclude the top 1 percent because their assets are notoriously hard to measure.) “

 As a super-pleasant surprise, net assets grew the fastest among low- and moderate-income families.

“From the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, the inflation-adjusted wealth of households in the lowest income quintile jumped 15.2 percent and just 0.8 percent for those in the top income quintile (again, excluding the top 1 percent).”

In addition, the poverty rate fell an impressive two percent from December, 2020, to May, 2022—from 16.1 percent to 14.1 percent, according to the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University. (Though as I’ve noted elsewhere, it’s now rising because the extension of the Child Tax Credit was defeated by the usual suspects in Congress; it must be reinstated.)

Similarly, the Biden administration’s efforts to enhance health care coverage led to a drop in the percentage of uninsured Americans to “record lows” from late in 2020 to the early months of 2022. Among adults aged 18 to 64, the drop was from 14.5 percent to 11.8 percent, and among children it decreased from 6.4 percent to 3.7 percent, reports The Department of Health and Human Services.

Shapiro concludes:

“Imagine how Donald Trump would brag if he could tout record job creation, record low poverty, and record health insurance coverage—not to mention wealth gains and wage and salary gains that kept up with inflation. That’s a message that Democrats should carry into the fall campaigns.”

So I’m scratching my head as I ponder all these improvements. Why on earth would anyone think we should elect trickle-down Republicans who always make sure the wealthiest Americans benefit from massive, largely unpaid-for tax cuts that don’t produce significant growth but do add greatly to the national debt—as well as to our nation’s unconscionable and destabilizing income inequality?

Please help me correct this gross misunderstanding among any voters who tell you they’re voting for the Republicans “because of the economy.”

Annie

16 thoughts on “Why Do Voters Trust Republicans on the Economy More Than Democrats?

  1. In my opinion Republicans’ belief that GOP policies are good for business is a matter of faith in the party of their parents and grandparents. A faith which is reinforced by numerous platitudes: entitlements are unaffordable, Democrats tax and spend, regulations are bad, the federal budget must be balanced like a family budget, Obamacare (or any law favored by Democrats) is the worst law ever passed by Congress, guns make us safe, climate change is a hoax, Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme, America is a Christian nation and Democrats are socialists, Marxists, and communists, we don’t need the Federal Government–shut it down!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. In New York, to vote in a primary one must register with a party well in advance of the election. Party affiliation is a public record; many may wish to keep their allegiance private. Here, these voters are called unaffiliated voters, blank voters, or sometimes independents. That doesn’t mean they don’t favor one party or another. Most likely they lean left or right in the same proportion as voters who do identify with a party for similar reasons.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Understood, whungerford. There are also many “never-trumpers” in that mix. Some have left the party; others remain in name only.

        I couldn’t find voter registration data more recent than 2020, when independents were first, Dems were second, and Republicans were third. I do know there have been increases in Dem registrations since Dobbs among women and young people.

        I think the fallacious idea about Republicans being better stewards of the economy is another big lie that’s an article of faith and needs much more media deflation.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Annie, good post. You have likely seen me cite these stats but ask people this simple question and start a conversation. There have been 13 Republican and 13 Democrat White Houses since 1921. Under which White Houses have the most jobs been created? Even many Democrats will get this wrong. The answer is under Democrat White Houses and it is not even close, with double the number of jobs under Democrats than Republicans. Wikipedia has a good summary you can look at it. Further, the economy and stock market have done better as well based on other measures.

    Now, presidents get too much credit and blame for the economy, but they do provide headwinds and tailwinds. But, even recent history will tell you those who want to give the last former president too much credit, should realize that he inherited an economy in its 91st consecutive month of economic growth, a more than doubled stock market, and six straight years of 2+ million in per annum job growth. To his credit, it continued and got a little better for a little while with the tax cut for business, but then fell back to previous levels before the mishandling of the pandemic threw us into a recession.

    It should be noted Bush handed the keys to a recession to Obama while Obama handed the keys to a growing economy. What Trump handed to Biden was an economy that had just come out of recession as Americans were getting back to work.

    Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Keith. Alas, I must acknowledge that I hadn’t seen your comparable post(s). With so many blogs to visit, I regrettably miss some valuable ones by bloggers as prolific as you are. The link in this post is to another I wrote in May referring to data gathered by Simon Rosenberg and his organization, a continually updated slide presentation called “With Democrats Things Get Better.”

      I’m delighted to know you’ve been stressing this important message!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s very discouraging to see Republicans being so successful in convincing voters of their fiscal superiority. It’s totally unfounded but many Americans believe that tax cuts are good even if they only benefit the wealthy. Starting conversations to convince them otherwise is extremely difficult and usually fruitless. In many other countries, citizens understand the importance of services/regulations that benefit society as a whole, for now and into the future. We are so backward when it comes to this kind of thinking!

    Fifty years ago, this wasn’t the case. The vast majority of people now get their news from social media. So, meaningful conversations that result in a significant change in election outcomes seem nearly impossible to come by. Sorry to sound so pessimistic but I some times feel like we may have to wait until a critical mass of crazies (Maga, QAnon, Proud Boys…) wreak enough havoc to force the pendulum to swing in the other direction.

    But, you’re right Annie. Even if this is the case, we should be doing all we can to push back. Sorry for the rant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your sentiments, Carol. I think the Republican con may go back further than fifty years (moving from economics to politics, which are so intertwined). I heard David Corn interviewed about his new book, “American Psychosis,” and he goes back to Eisenhower’s unwillingness to publicly condemn Joe McCarthy, which he sees as the pivotal point when a supposedly strong leader accommodated a hatemonger because he feared his wrath and impact on election. He traces that accommodation through recent history. But, I remind myself, eventually, McCarthy was done.

      I just keep looking for the good signs and moving forward. Wrote postcards today for a Democrat who came close to winning a special election in a Republican-leaning district and believes his pro-choice position will carry him into office with the larger turnout in November.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks very much, Carol. Some days it’s easier to be optimistic than others! Doesn’t mean I don’t worry. I believe, though, that pessimism isn’t a great motivator, and we need enthusiasm on our side—even if it’s fueled by righteous anger.

        I didn’t know the Eisenhower story either. Corn suggested if he’d acted differently, it might not have been so easy for others to be similarly opportunistic. Maybe—but it’s doubtful, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Annie. I read the following quote yesterday (not sure of source): “A fact is information minus emotion. An opinion is information plus experience. Ignorance is an opinion lacking information. And stupidity is opinion that ignores a fact.” I don’t have much hope regarding your next election (or ours) but my fingers are crossed… tightly…🤞🤞🤞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Patti. Thank you—and thanks for the fine quote. I work hard at remaining hopeful; I try to concentrate on the good news; eg: trump is getting slammed from all sides; Russians are letting Putin know they hate his war—and both China and India’s leaders told him “Nyet!,” Iranians are demonstrating for the first time in years, etc. Lots of individual acts of bravery. Here’s hopin’!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “The Truman show”, a real man in a fake world. The only solution to our problems is more. Under constant bombardment that the grass on the other side of the fence tastes better, is more nutritious and less filling but YOU will need a better job if you ever want to get there. Americans find enough insufficient. Too much is just not enough for me especially if you have some.
    I made a comfortable living selling comfortable people things that they did not need to be more comfortable simply by demonstrating that they were uncomfortable.
    A story is just a story until you begin to believe in it. Then you get to have angels and demons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, we seem to be in the throes of a number of unhelpful phenomena at this point, Richard—and you’ve articulated a couple that are interwoven. The zero sum game—if you get more, I get less—is one of the most damaging, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

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