Trump promised to make paychecks great again — they’re not

It’s always about the economy, stupid. President Trump’s re-election depends on it. 

The stock market has been strong. Other leading indicators are ominous. 

Trump also must win the Midwest, including Wisconsin and Iowa, whose economies are similarly structured. This just in from the Iowa Department of Revenue’s monthly Iowa Leading Indicator’s Index, published last week:

“The negative annualized six-month ILII value and the six-month diffusion index at 25.0 suggest that signals of weakness in the Iowa economy are continuing and are broad-based. The goal of the ILII is to signal turning points in the Iowa economy as measured by employment. The employment growth in March was the slowest monthly increase since November 2017, a weakening that is consistent with the recent ILII signals. This report suggests that over the next three to six months, employment growth will remain weak and possibly stall.”

The report goes on to note that residential building permits, new manufacturing orders, average manufacturing hours and unemployment claims all are headed the wrong direction. 

Crop prices are off, but livestock prices are up (25 percent for pork in the face of a devastating African swine virus that has wiped out a third of Chinese production so far). Gains in hog prices mainly flow out of rural areas to where the owners live — in China, in the case of Smithfield, the USA’s largest pork producer.

And the Department of Revenue calls our attention to the bond market, where long-term yields are down precipitously, a strong signal of bearishness going forward.

Congress is dragging its feet on flood disaster aid. Even with a China trade deal, it will take years for corn and soy markets to recover.

The tax break trumpeted by Trump is not enough to mask these economic factors in play right now in the Midwest. By some measures, Wisconsin may be worse off with a full-blown crisis in the dairy industry brought on by consolidation and over-production.

None of this can be good for Trump as he mounts a campaign based on fear of immigrants and refugees. 

Iowa voters will judge him on if he delivered on his campaign promise to make their paychecks great again. He hasn’t. 

Trump policies have made things worse from the rural Midwest to the Rust Belt of Pennsylvania where former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy by ripping into Trump in the heart of steel country — Pittsburgh.

Trump is scared to death of Biden because the president knows he sold us a bill of goods now coming due. 

Obama’s wingman can talk about how he helped bring the economy back from the precipice of another Great Depression in 2008. He can talk about getting America back on track. So can Elizabeth Warren, who is confronting the agri-chemical cabal for holding Iowa in a choke while plundering our resources. That’s why Trump tries to belittle Warren by calling her names — she frightens him. 

He has no other answer for Michigan or Ohio, where the auto industry continues to shrink. Trump could not debate Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown without looking like the fool that he is. Or any of a dozen more candidates, from Julian Castro to Steve Bullock.

You can lie and cheat and shoot a cannon down Fifth Avenue when the economy is rocking. But it’s not in the states that delivered Trump a victory. They took a chance, and he has let them down: farmers, laborers, even anti-immigrant zealots (How about that wall?). It’s all in the numbers from the Iowa Department of Revenue. 

And the numbers say it probably gets worse. Not good. 

Sad, as The Donald might say. 

It’s just too bad we have to endure all this pain and wait so long to get rid of the criminal-in-chief.

 

Who runs Iowa?

If you want to know who really runs this state, consider a bill that forbids the use of state funds by a nonprofit to buy private land. 

Farm Bureau and the cattlemen supported it. Nobody else did. In fact, large crowds of people showed up at public hearings to object to the bill. Farm Bureau got its way despite almost no support for the legislation among any other lobby.

Because of it, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will not be able to buy private land next to a county park if it uses public funds.

Iowa has the least amount of public land of any state. It is not as if the county parks are threatening to drive cattle or corn out of Iowa. It’s just that Farm Bureau wants every acre in production, because it invests heavily in outfits like Monsanto. 

Every acre bought by the Natural Heritage Foundation is an acre lost to corn production, Roundup application and erosion into the Little Sioux River.

Farm Bureau calls the shots. We get to pay the bill.

Art Cullen is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of The Storm Lake Times.

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