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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Simon Rosenberg: With Democrats Things Get Better

The following article is cross-posted from Simon Rosenberg’s blog at ndn.org:

The new House Republican leadership has made it clear that we are going to be having a big economic and fiscal debate this year.  To help the center-left family prepare for that debate (and win it!) we will be updating and showing our influential With Democrats Things Get Better presentation throughout the year.  With Dems takes a deep dive into decades of data and finds when Democrats have been in power, things have repeatedly gotten better.  We’ve seen growth, lots of jobs created, lower deficits, progress.  With Republicans we’ve seen something very different.  The last 3 Republican Presidents have brought recession, spiraling deficits, decline.

As we often say this story – repeated Dem economic success, repeated R economic failure – remains the most important, least understood story in American politics today.  It is a story that needs to be told in 2023, a story the center-left needs to be very very loud about.

You can watch the latest With Dems presentation from January 26th, 2023 here.

To learn more about the big arguments in With Dems start with our recently published analysis The Economy Remains Strong, 10.7 Biden Jobs, a related thread, and an essay, The Case for Optimism, Rejecting Trump’s Poisonous Pessimism, which was the basis of the earliest version of this presentation.  We have also frequently written over the past few years about the need for the center-left to get far more intentional about winning the economic argument with MAGA and the Republicans.  Given our repeated strong performance we shouldn’t be losing the economic argument to these guys.

We strongly recommend reviewing David Leonhardt’s NYT essay “Why Are Republican Presidents So Bad for the Economy?” It makes very similar arguments and has lots of terrific and useful charts.  Maria Cardona cites our research in her CNN column, as does David Rothkopf in this USA Today essay.   Mike Tomasky’s rave review of With Dems in a recent Daily Beast column is a great read.  Mike writes: “Simon Rosenberg heads NDN, a liberal think tank and advocacy organization. He has spent years advising Democrats, presidents included, on how to talk about economic matters. Not long ago, he put together a little PowerPoint deck. It is fascinating. You need to know about it. The entire country needs to know about it.”  We agree of course!

The deck has been revamped to include a new, longer section on the strong economic recovery under President Biden.  Some of the key stats from that section, and a graph:

  • GDP growth 3x Trump, 5x as many Biden jobs as last 3 GOP Presidents combined
  • best COVID recovery in G7
  • lowest unemployment rate in 50 yrs
  • lowest poverty/uninsured rates ever
  • very elevated wage gains/new business starts
  • 2 job openings per unemployed person, a record
  • real earnings up in 2022, trade deficit/deficit down
  • historic investments in our future prosperity (infrastructure, CHIPs, climate, health care)
  • domestic oil production on track to set records in 2023

Finally, our understanding of the American economy and the role of inflation was heavily influenced over the past year by the writings of our long time collaborator, Rob Shapiro. Rob wrote in January that employment was booming at historic levels, in May that inflation was having little effect on people’s incomes, in July that pundits’ talk about recession was flat-out wrong, in August that Americans were clearly better economically off under Biden, and in October that Democrats should tout their economic record.  Like the red wave, we think too many commentators in 2022 bought into the “inflation is killing the Democrats” narrative far too easily.

You can find even more background here.  Thanks for your interest, and we hope to catch you at one of our upcoming presentations!

3 comments on “Simon Rosenberg: With Democrats Things Get Better

  1. Victor on

    Compared to other industrial economies, the US barely has economic problems.

    The focus on federal revenue (by Democrats eg Reich for raising taxes on the wealthy) and deficits (by Republicans eg debt ceiling) is misguided.

    Inflation is once again being used mainly as an excuse. So is the so called crowding out effect of public debt on private investment. Macroeconomics doesn’t provide as clear cut answers to these issues, it just uses oversimplified theoretical and mathematical models.

    What economic history does provide is good examples of the long term impact of good industrial policy, or the lack of it. The Liberal Patriot recently published an excellent piece describing the role of industrial policy in making the US the major superpower.

    Scarcity of incredibly important goods reflects the problem with exclusive reliance on the private sector for prioritizing investments. The private sector has major coordination and information assymetry problems when it comes to key areas of the economy and society. This is Econ 101.

    From a policy perspective Biden should keep his focus on investment.

    Democrats should also keep the focus on inequality, but talk less about income disparities and more about improving the lives of the working class with concrete benefits.

    What the US does have is major political/governance problems, although it increasingly seems these are overstated too.

    So Republicans want to manufacture a crisis to cut spending. We’ve been here before and everything is usually fudged.

    Social Security is not in an imminent crisis so there is no real pressure to do anything about it. In the long term the problem with the system is its model of financing via trust funds instead of general revenue.

    Democrats should insist on keeping the retirement age as is. It is already incredibly biased against the working class and in favor of the rich (who live longer). They could compromise on raising the age for those who will receive a higher level of social security pension or who have a higher overall income or wealth level.

    Democrats could offer a compromise to create a federal consumption tax. The US does have a minor problem with “excessive” consumer spending. This has the added benefit of leading to a strategy in which you directly confront the most right wing Republican idea on its merits.

    But the fact is a federal consumption tax only makes sense if it preempts state and local ones to some degree or if somehow the administration of the federal one doesn’t require a large new bureaucracy (which would specially be the case if the value added tax model is adopted).

    Preempting state and local rules on sales taxes should be something that Democrats can favor, if for example they can introduce uniform exemptions that favor the working class. The new tax could be slowly phased in.

    Democrats should demand that the consumption tax have much higher rates for luxury goods.

    Democrats could also favor a minor and phased in increase of the Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes (which also deals with excessive consumption). Although this would be politically unpalatable and the taxes are regressive, this should be put on the table in exchange for concessions on benefits.

    Higher minimum Social Security pensions and expansion of Medicare benefits and elegibility should be the objective.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    Simon Rosenberg: “real earnings up in 2022, trade deficit/deficit down.”

    Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Real average hourly earnings decreased 1.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, from December 2021 to December 2022.” Real Earnings Summary, 1/12/23

    The trade deficit has been greater in every month of Biden’s administration than it was in any month of the Trump administration. Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1/23

    I wouldn’t buy any used cars from Simon Rosenberg. Especially at today’s prices.


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