Editorial: Even politics can't derail surging economy (yet)
It's a testament to the strength and resilience of the national economy that it keeps surging ahead despite the relentless efforts of Republicans and Democrats to derail it.
The recent economic numbers are fantastic, and add to two years of strong growth during the tenure of President Donald Trump.
In April, the jobless rate hit its lowest level in five decades, dropping to 3.6 percent on the addition of 263,000 jobs. And workers are bringing home more money, thanks to both the middle-class tax cuts and a 3.2 percent hike in wages over the past year. That performance reset the Recession Clock for at least another 11 months out, or longer if unemployment falls further.
And contrary to the false claim by Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris in Detroit over the weekend, the rise in household income is not the result of "most" Americans working multiple jobs. Just 5 percent of workers hold more than one job.
Orders for durable goods rose 2.7 percent in March, signaling business is bullish on the future. That sentiment is shared by consumers, whose confidence in the economy rose again in April.
Equity markets were shaking off their 2019 sluggishness, steadily gaining ground until this week, when Trump mused that he might impose an additional round of tariffs in the ongoing trade war with China.
That sent the Dow tumbling 600 points on Tuesday and was a reminder of the biggest dangers to the economy — politics and policy.
Who knows how high the stock markets might have risen over the past year had Trump not delved into protectionism. Each new round of tariffs, or tariff threats, has sent stocks tumbling and raised doubts about whether the long bull market is waning.
Uncertainty about trade has also impacted investment, particularly by the domestic automobile industry, which has been hit hardest by the levies.
Some financial experts are warning that if Trump goes ahead with his threatened 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, it could send the S&P 500 into a 10 percent plummet.
That's what the president is doing to himself, and the country.
Democrats, meanwhile, are all but openly rooting for a recession, recognizing that the strong economy is the best hope Trump has of winning reelection.
Not content to simply distort economic reality, they're stalling on measures that could further boost the economy, most notably passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Settling the rules of future trade on this continent would unleash investment dollars.
As would some measure of political stability. The report from special prosecutor Robert Mueller clearing Trump of colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign and failing to build a definitive case for obstruction of justice should have taken impeachment off the table.
Instead, Democrats are launching what the Wall Street Journal called a "pseudo-impeachment," an investigative flurry aimed at keeping the dark cloud of suspicion over the Trump presidency without taking the political risk of an actual impeachment vote.
Times are good, and appear to be getting even better. But you'd never know it from what's going on in Washington, where our political leaders are doing their best to derail the gravy train.