USA Today ran a surprising story on Tuesday headlined "Can the middle-class revival under Trump last?" It's surprising — shocking really — because it might just be the first time a major news outlet has admitted that there has been a middle-class revival under Trump.
We did a search for news stories that used the phrase "middle-class revival" since Trump took office. Other than the USAT story and a syndicated column written a year-and-a-half ago, we found none.
Even a more generic search for "Trump middle class" turns up mostly stories about how Trump's tax cuts supposedly aren't helping them. And how his trade war with China will hurt them.
Only Bad News For Middle Class
The press was also happy to feature comments from Democrats bashing Trump. Such as this one from Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "The president and his administration have not just been indifferent to workers, they have launched an all-out attack on workers."
Reporters made no attempt to set the record straight on that lie.
Nor did the army of media fact checkers bother to correct Stacey Abrams, who in her response to Trump's State of the Union" painted a grim picture of the middle class under Trump.
It that speech, she declared that "families' hopes are being crushed by Republican leadership that ignores real life or just doesn't understand it." That "far too many hardworking Americans are falling behind, living paycheck to paycheck." She said the GOP tax cuts "rigged the system against working people." She said "plants are closing, layoffs are looming, and wages struggle to keep pace with the actual cost of living."
None if it is true. But for the most part, fact checkers simply overlooked it.
Uncovering the Good News
So here comes USA Today, which admits that the middle class has actually seen, in its words, a "revival" under Trump.
"The vibrant economy, juiced further by the Trump-led tax cuts and federal spending increases, has lifted employment and wages for workers at all levels, including the middle class."
Shocking news to anyone who gets their news from the mainstream press. But the story goes on to note that:
• "Median U.S. household income … rose 1.8% to an all-time high of $61,372 in 2017."
• "Employers added an average 223,000 jobs a month last year, up from 179,000 in 2017. And unemployment sank to a near 50-year low."
• "Average U.S. wages climbed 3.3% in 2018, after being stuck at 2.5% to 2.7% (growth) for several years."
• "Industries that employ middle-class workers in particular are benefiting. Manufacturers have added about 450,000 jobs since Trump took office, the largest two-year total in decades."
• "The number of factory jobs 'reshored,' or shifted to the U.S. from overseas … hit a record 170,00 in 2017." (Emphases added.)
To be sure, USA Today only mentions these gains so it can then paint a dark picture for the middle class on the horizon. Nevertheless, the fact that the paper was willing to admit to a middle-class revival under Trump is in itself newsworthy.
This isn't a surprise to regular readers of these pages. We thoroughly documented the middle-class stagnation during the Obama years, as his policies choked off what should have been a powerful economic recovery.
Shouldn't Be A Surprise
For the past two years, we've been tracking the sudden and unexpected rebound that's occurred once Trump started to undo and reverse those Obama-era anti-growth policies.
Last week, in fact, we pointed out that our own polling shows a sharp increase in the public's estimation of their own quality of life under Trump.
It's a safe bet that had a Democrat been in the White House over the past two years things would be different. Front pages would cheer the good news. Broadcasters would lead with it each night.
Then again, there wouldn't be any middle-class revival if a Democrat had been in the White House over the past two years.
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