Ocasio-Cortez vs. the Trump Economy

If you want to bring a smile to Donald Trump's face, the best way to do it might be to bring up the economic news from the past ten days.  The July jobs numbers were released, and our unemployment rate has again fallen below 4.0%.  This follows the recent news of our second-quarter 2018 GDP numbers released at the end of July.

With 4.1% GDP growth, we've reached the fastest economic expansion in four years, and President Trump doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.  National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow believes we could be on the precipice of growth over 5% in the near future.

At the same time some of these great economic numbers were released, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was somewhere plotting her next move on the campaign trail.

Since her upset primary win over Joe Crowley, the current chairman of the House Democratic caucus, Ocasio-Cortez has been the center of considerable media coverage.  The 28-year-old self-described Democratic Socialist is now the standard-bearer for a phenomenon that can no longer be ignored – the rise in popularity of socialism among Americans, in particular young Americans. 

While many Republicans hope Ocasio-Cortez is where the party is headed due to her far-left views, recent polling suggests they should perhaps be careful what they wish for.  According to The University of Chicago's GenForward Survey, Americans aged 18-34 had only 4 percent (49-45) greater favorability of capitalism to socialism.

The rise in popularity of socialism can be evidenced by how it has seeped into mainstream conversation.  For evidence, look no farther than the debate that took place on ABC's The View recently between Meghan McCain and Joy Behar.

There are many on both the left and right who are wondering if Ocasio-Cortez is just an anomaly in the Democratic Party or if she is a sign of where the future of the party is headed.  A recent article even suggested she may be the left's version of Donald Trump.  She is not alone, either.  Sarah Smith is another young female who is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist running for Washington's 9th Congressional District.

But the kryptonite to Ocasio-Cortez, Smith, and the rise of socialism may be the success our economy is having under President Trump.

From tax cuts to North Korea and everything in between, there could be an entire column on the times Democrats have predicted Armageddon, only for President Trump to prove them wrong.  Potentially the most egregious of these predictions relate to President Trump's handling on the economy.

Many pundits predicted economic collapse when the business tycoon turned presidential candidate won the 2016 election.  Even the so-called "experts" got it wrong.  Economist and NYT columnist Paul Krugman made the bold prediction that markets would "never" recover from Donald Trump being elected president.

Yet here we are with no sign of an economic collapse.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  The great GDP numbers and record low unemployment rates are just the latest positive example of what has been an objectively successful economy under President Trump.

Since Trump took office, the DOW has gone from 18,332 to almost 25,500.  The NASDAQ has gained almost 3,000 points, and the S&P is up just shy of 700.  Among the black, Hispanic, female, and Asian populations, unemployment is at or nearing all-time low numbers.

Further, President Trump has slashed regulation and red tape at a record rate, and consumer confidence and small business confidence are both through the roof.  Since taking office, his administration has added 3.7 million new jobs, and we now have more available jobs that we do workers prepared to fill the vacancies.

All the economic success from President Trump's policies raises a large question for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and those on the far left: can they reconcile their beliefs on economics with the economic success stemming from President Trump's polar opposite views?

Ocasio-Cortez certainly has a strong niche base of support with people on the far left, but can she sustain or even continue her rise in the face of our current booming economy?  There is certainly more to a candidate than just his economic policies, but Ocasio-Cortez has struggled to provide even basic answers to elementary-level political questions in other areas such as foreign policy.  She also holds positions, like abolishing ICE, on topics like immigration that polling indicates are heavily in favor of Republicans.

Even on economic issues, she has fumbled with answers related to things like our low unemployment rate, stating that it was so low due to Americans working two or more jobs.  However, the number of Americans working two or more jobs has been on the decline since peaking at 6.5% in the mid-'90s and sits under 5% of all people employed today.

Ocasio-Cortez's policy positions include things like a federal job guarantee for anyone and everyone.  Not only would she propose making a federal job available to anyone who wants one, but it would pay at least a $15 minimum wage with health care and paid leave benefits.  She has also proposed tuition-free higher education and trade school, including a onetime buyback by the government of all student loans both public and private.

Additionally, she states that housing is a right that the government should make available in some form to all citizens, extending tax credits, housing the homeless, and fully funding the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  The details on how to afford all these policies are predictably vague, but you can be sure that an increase in taxes is on the agenda.

President Trump's best polling numbers are in relation to his handling of the economy.  Even unfriendly CNN has been forced to admit that President Trump deserves some credit for the economic surge.  It is clear at this point in his presidency, his policy positions on the economy have been successful.

Despite all the "Chicken Little" predictions from those on the left, our economy is flourishing.  In sum, if it were up to her, Ocasio-Cortez would reverse all of President Trump's economic policies like tax cuts and the slashing of red tape that have been responsible for our recent economic swell.  This would all but guarantee a reversal of the great economic achievements we've had in the last 18 months.

When President Trump came onto the political scene, many assumed he would be little more than a flash in the pan.  Now, almost two years into the Trump presidency, the left faces a fork in the road.  Leftists will have to determine if the future of the party will follow the young Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Only time will tell if she can outgrow the niche bubble of her support, but if President Trump continues to guide a thriving economy, anyone with "socialist" preceding his name seems more likely to wind up as a flash in the pan.

Evan Berryhill is a former communications staffer for Rep. David B. McKinley.  Currently, Evan is a conservative commentator and law student at West Virginia University.  He has written for American Thinker, the Washington Examiner, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, The Hill, the Charleston Gazette, and the W.V. State Journal.

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