By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES — Iowa Republicans say the economy is booming under President Donald Trump’s leadership and talk of a recession is being fanned by naysaying Democrats, media and partisan economists who want to see him fail in his bid to win re-election in 2020.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann was joined by three GOP state legislators and three businesspeople for a news conference Thursday to tout the “Trump economy” and to slam Democrats holding up passage of the United State-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and pushing “pie-in-the-sky, Green New Deal ideas” in 2020 campaign pitches to Iowa voters.
“Rumors of a recession is nothing short of a scam,” said Anthony Marlowe, chief executive officer of Iowa City-based MCI, which recently was recognized as the state’s fastest-growing company. “There is no recession around the corner or looming anywhere soon. It’s absolutely explosive what’s happening in the economy right now.”
Kaufmann pointed to statistics that Iowa’s unemployment rate is hovering at an all-time low while jobs are being added, business taxes have declined and government regulations have been eased. Other roundtable participants said a shortage of skilled workers and negative effects of a trade war with China are the only negatives on an otherwise robust economic horizon.
“The Trump economy is almost too good to be true,” said Kaufmann, who organized an event for Trump Victory and Iowa GOP forces to counter the negative messages he has heard delivered by nearly two dozen Democratic presidential candidates campaigning at the Iowa State Fair and around the state.
Many economics not ‘ringing that alarm bell’
Thursday’s roundtable came one day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its worst performance of 2019 with a drop of 800 points after the bond market flashed a troubling signal about the U.S. economy. Wednesday’s stock market decline of 800.49 points was the fourth-largest point drop of all time as the index drifted to a two-month low.
Kaufmann dismissed talk of a recession, telling reporters that economics is an art “not a science” and that for all the naysayers “there are many economists right now that aren’t ringing that alarm bell” because growth has exceeded expectations and the long-term trajectory remains positive.
The GOP chairman called Wednesday development “a snapshot” that should not be projected into an economic downturn. “But every time there’s even a hint that you can make a case that things aren’t going to go well, these Democratic candidates jump on that and paint a doomsday picture,” Kaufmann told reporters.
Businessman praises momentum of economy
“The momentum in the economy is absolutely staggering,” said Marlowe, who noted his business grew from 400 employees when Trump won election in 2016 to more than 2,000 now. “It’s driven by predictability, it’s driven by lower taxes and it’s driven by reduced regulation.
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“Companies, small business owners, corporations have substantial confidence in investing,” he added. “We’re absolutely drinking from a fire hose. At times, there is more work than we can handle.”
Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, said he supports Trump’s effort to curb trade abuses by China, while Rep. Pat Grassley, a New Hartford legislator who is the grandson of U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, said “pure hatred” of Trump has been preventing Democrats from “doing what’s good for the country” and ratifying the USMCA.
Democrat candidate John Delaney responds
John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman who is a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said Wednesday’s stock-market plunge and trade-war developments showed the nation needs a president who understands how the economy works and has a plan for the country’s economic future.
“Recent market volatility is sending voters a clear message: Trump’s stupid trade war, rejection of rules-based trade, addiction to deficits and debt, unpaid-for spending and tax cuts, and lack of investments in our future will result in a recession and maybe worse,” said Delaney, who campaigned Thursday in Iowa City and Des Moines. “Trump was an economic fraud in business and he’s an economic fraud as president.”
Iowa Democratic Party responds
Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Trump has made many campaign promises that remain unfulfilled.
“Trump and Republicans promised the tax cuts would pay for themselves. Instead, Trump’s tax cuts will actually raise taxes for most Iowans — including small-business owners — in the long run just to cover the costs of permanent tax cuts for the top 1 percent and corporations,” Price noted.
“Trump promised he’d raise workers’ wages, but he hasn’t. Instead, wages have remained stagnant throughout his presidency, and real wages actually declined last month,” he added.
“Giving permanent tax handouts to the wealthiest among us at the expense of working Iowans who aren’t seeing their paychecks increase won’t help families get ahead,” said Price. “Democrats are the party that’s fighting for an economy that works for everyone, and that’s how we’re going to win in 2020.”
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