As far as the economy is concerned, there is no comparison between Biden and Trump

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

As far as the economy is concerned, there is no comparison between Biden and Trump

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

LZ Granderson

February 21, 2024

Let’s talk about political theater for a moment.

Last fall, a House subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the impact of one of President Biden’s most important pieces of legislation: the Inflation Reduction Act. Predictably, Republicans hated it. They were especially annoyed about the tax incentives for clean energy. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) framed his criticism around a populist message.

Some of these green cars, electric cars, can cost $100,000 a year, and so the really rich braggarts of our society are almost by definition the people who build them, he said, before asking a witness: You mean they get special credits give to the rich man. who likes to show off his $100,000 a year Chevy, but you can’t get credit if you’re an average guy trying to buy a car for $35,000?

Grothman’s Norma Rae impersonation was so convincing that it’s easy to forget that he’s the same politician who was once cornered by hundreds of pro-union protesters as they shouted, Shame, shame, shame! because his policies were so harmful to the average man. His stunt last fall was daring political theater.

So did the answer from the witness, Preston Brashers, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation. That’s the same think tank that is reportedly leading the policies a future Trump administration would implement if the former president were to become one


elected in November. Brashers, who once baffledly accused the Biden administration of plundering the American people, lamented the lack of affordability of green-ticket items like solar panels.

Wait a second. We all understand that many Americans felt financially strapped last year. But this brain trust would have us believe that the stress at the grocery store checkout was caused by a year of Biden’s inflation policies? After Trump spent four years plundering the economy to serve the rich? Corporate tax revenues fell to the lowest level in almost 75 years under Trump. The top 1% now has more wealth than the entire middle class.

We can have a discussion about fiscal policy without pretending that our problems are all Biden’s fault.

We can have a discussion about spending without vilifying Republicans.

But there is no longer room for debate about Trump’s ability to handle the economy. That’s done.

Even before he first ran for president, Trump bankrupted companies six times. (He explained that as fragmented cases.) Since the 1970s, he has been in legal trouble with the US government again and again.

Trump has expanded the budget deficit by $7.8 trillion, and $3.3 trillion of that was before COVID-19 hit the US and required massive stimulus programs.

And now he owes so much money after losing a series of lawsuits that he’s selling gold sneakers during campaign stops to raise money for his legal fees. Gym shoes with red bottoms, a kind of Christian Louboutin imitation. The exact type of shoe associated with wealth. The kind of wealth that Republicans in the House of Representatives are fighting against.

It’s all theater.

And yet the show is not over for Trump. In some ways it’s just beginning, and the next act doesn’t look good for him.

Because as someone whose entire image is based on wealth and power, he needs to take a major blow to his already fragile ego now that so many more Americans are certain that he has inflated his wealth by billions of dollars to swindle money from others.

We need to talk about the economy: Last June, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in its 30-year outlook that the national debt will equal a record 181% of U.S. economic activity by 2053. But anyone who pretends that Trump is a proven expert on finance will immediately lose as much credibility as the former president. His record is clear: Trump’s policies have devastated the federal government’s finances just as it has destroyed his businesses.

Trump’s record as a public servant: When he left office, he had increased the federal deficit by about $23,500 per person. The 2017 tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans alone pushed the country $2 trillion deeper into debt.

Trump’s record as a businessman: it has now been exposed that he lied about his success. That’s not an opinion; it is a finding proof


in court, despite Trump’s attempts to cover it up. In the past two months alone, he has lost lawsuits with price tags approaching $600 million. To cover that, he’ll have to sell a lot of shoes.

We can discuss Biden’s record versus Trump’s in almost every other area: public health, immigration, you name it. But to pretend that the former president should be given the keys to our economy goes beyond the limits of political theater. It’s dangerous.



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