Saturday, September 22, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about wages again--but otherwise laid low.

As usual for a Saturday, Trump spent the day at one of his luxury golf courses. And as is usual for Trump, if no other president before him, his public schedule was devoid of any work-related activities. 

Unusually, he has otherwise been quiet: his Twitter activity as of 10 p.m. EDT today was limited to one generic boast about unspecified economic "records," and two very brief pre-taped viedo messages.

But even a combined 70 seconds of pre-taped video was enough room for Trump to stray far from the truth. In the first of those videos, he said:
I have good news for you. It was just announced that wages, for the first time in many years, for people in the United States have gone up. ...That means you're working hard, but you're making more money.
It's not clear what Trump was referring to, but as this site noted Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics's latest report shows that year-on-year wages were up two cents per hour, from $10.76 to $10.78. For a standard 2,000-hour work year, that would increase gross pay from $21,520 to $21,560.

In other words, while Trump's tax cuts have resulted in huge corporate windfalls, wages remain flat against inflation as they have since the recessions of the early 1980s.

Image result for wage growth chart inflation adjusted

The reason Trump is laying low today is that he may have singlehandedly ruined his own Supreme Court nominee's chances of confirmation. Yesterday's tweet, in which Trump sarcastically mocked Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, for not reporting a rape attempt when she was 15, has backfired spectacularly. One of the swing votes on Kavanaugh's nomination, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) declared herself "appalled." Twitter was swamped by thousands of women using the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag.

Congressional Republicans, facing an election in which women are likely to be the margin of victory for Democratic challengers, were horrified as the damage to Kavanaugh's chances became clear. As one Republican Senate staffer told NBC, "They had a strategy, which was to keep [Trump] under wraps. I think Trump just couldn't help himself from becoming the center of attention." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had publicly guaranteed Kavanaugh's confirmation regardless of what Ford had to say, called Trump on Friday to make him aware of the damage he'd done.

Why should I care about this?

  • Repeating a lie does not make it true.
  • Presidents shouldn't need to be "handled" just so that they don't get in the way of their own agenda.