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Column: Trump’s closing argument is a loser

As President Trump has barnstormed battleground states in a frenzy of ultimate marketing campaign rallies, he hasn’t provided voters a lot of a plan for defeating the coronavirus (“We’re learning to live with it,” he says) or reviving the financial system (“We’ve recovered”).

Instead of providing options for the disasters on his watch, most of his message focuses on worry of the catastrophes he predicts if Joe Biden is elected.

“Biden and the Democrats will offshore your jobs, dismantle your police departments and dissolve your borders,” he claimed in Ohio. All three prices are false; these aren’t Biden’s positions.

My favourite: “If Biden wins, the flag-burning rioters on the streets will be running your federal government.” Even red-hat-wearing Trump followers may not swallow that one.

And he’s telling voters — once more with out basis — that their retirement financial savings will vanish if Biden is elected.

If the Democrat wins, he mentioned in North Carolina, “Your stocks, your 401(k) and pension will be demolished.”

“Your 401(k)s will be cut in half and much worse,” he warned in Arizona.

“Throw them away,” he added in Ohio.

It has turn out to be one among his favourite arguments — a technique to attraction to retirees and prosperous suburban voters, teams the place polls recommend his help has eroded during the last 4 years.

But regardless of how typically he repeats it — and he repeats it at each cease — it’s as flimsy as his different claims.

Trump has provided two causes for his prediction of a falling inventory market if Biden is elected: The Democrat has mentioned he could name for renewed lockdowns in some components of the nation if the pandemic doesn’t abate, and has proposed increased taxes on companies and high-income earners.

Neither state of affairs essentially results in a inventory market crash.

Last spring, when the pandemic first hit, a nationwide lockdown produced a sudden recession and a pointy dip within the inventory market — however by June, the markets recovered and went on to report highs.

As for Biden’s proposed tax hikes, monetary markets typically don’t react negatively in any respect to such adjustments.

The final important enhance in revenue tax charges, in 2013, was adopted by a 30% rise within the S&P 500 index — the most effective return for shares in additional than a decade. The president on the time was Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Trump typically brags in regards to the stock markets’ performance throughout his presidency — and he can. Since he was elected, the S&P has risen about 58%. That’s higher than Obama’s first time period, when the identical index rose 40%.

Here’s the opposite downside with Trump’s pitch: Not as many citizens personal shares as he appears to imagine.

“Everyone thinks, ‘Stocks, oh, it’s rich people,’” the president mentioned in Arizona. “Everybody owns stocks.”

Except they don’t.

According to the Federal Reserve, about 53% of American households personal shares, largely in mutual funds held by retirement accounts like a employer-sponsored 401(okay). But 401(okay) balances are sometimes modest; half of all accounts maintain $65,000 or much less.

The overwhelming majority of shares are owned by the richest 10% of Americans.

Those numbers reveal a severe public policy problem: Most Americans aren’t saving practically sufficient for retirement.

Biden has provided a proposal to make particular person retirement accounts extra broadly out there and encourage lower-income employees to contribute extra. Trump, for all his speak about 401(okay)s, hasn’t addressed the issue.

But the most important downside with Trump’s argument is that he’s asking voters to miss the pandemic, neglect the general public good, and suppose largely about their investments.

It’s a mannequin of political conduct that reduces voting to an train of slim self-interest.

The president seems to imagine that’s how most voters suppose. In a tv interview final month, he predicted that even liberals in Beverly Hills will vote for him to guard their wealth.

“They’re greedy people,” he mentioned. “So they will talk one way, but they’re going to vote another way.”

I feel he’s incorrect on that depend, too. Polling from 2016 and different elections reveals that ideology, faith, training and geography are all better influences on the best way folks vote than wealth.

Wealthy liberals are inclined to vote Democratic; low-income conservatives are inclined to vote Republican.

But not in Trump’s view of the world. At final week’s presidential debate in Nashville, the president was requested, as his closing argument, to explain how he would reunify a divided nation.

His reply was solely about {dollars} and cents — and Biden.

“Success is going to bring us together. We are on the road to success,” he mentioned. “If he gets in … your 401(k)s will go to hell.”

It’s not a lot of an argument.

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