A top economic adviser in the Obama administration, who is now a Harvard professor, has bad news for Democrats hoping to oust President Donald Trump from the White House this November.
In discussions with politicians and policy makers on both sides of the aisle, Jason Furman has been explaining how the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, may present Democrats with a nightmare scenario this fall.
Because the economic downturn happened so quickly, as a result of state leaders forcing businesses to temporarily shut down, the recovery could happen quickly, too, according to Furman.
"We are about to see the best economic data we've seen in the history of this country," Furman told leaders last month, Politico reported.
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During a Zoom presentation last month attended by former Cabinet secretaries and Federal Reserve officials, Furman "laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and GDP growth ever," according to Politico.
Furman explained the recovery "can be very very fast, because people go back to their original job, they get called back from furlough, you put the lights back on in your business. Given how many people were furloughed and how many businesses were closed you can get a big jump out of that. It will look like a V."
"The Trump argument will be he's producing the fastest job growth and fastest economic growth in history. If he has any ability to do nuance he would say, 'We are not there yet, re-elect me to finish the job,'" Furman said.
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In fact, Furman said economic reports between now and November will likely be a boon for the president's campaign.
"You could easily have one to two million jobs created a month in [jobs] reports before November," he said. "And then toward the end of October, we will get GDP growth for the third quarter, at an annualized rate, and it could be double-digit positive economic growth. So these will be the best jobs and growth numbers ever."
As far as optics go, that's a significant win for Trump — and it has Democrats worried.
"Trump beats Biden on the economy even right now!" one Democratic operative told Politico. "This is going to be extremely difficult no matter what. It's existential that we figure it out. In any of these economic scenarios Democrats are going to have to win the argument that our public health and economy are much worse off because of Donald Trump's failure of leadership.
Kenneth Baer, a Democratic strategist who also worked in the Obama administration, claimed the economic situation will still be bleak come November — but it will be much better than it is now.
"In absolute terms, the economy will look historically terrible come November," Baer told Politico. "But relative to the depths of April, it will be on an upswing — 12 percent unemployment, for example, is better than 20, but historically terrible."
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Still, Furman warned that all may not be promising for Trump. For example, a second wave of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns would stall economic recovery. Plus, not every business that was forced to close will financially make it to the other side of the lockdowns, meaning the economy will only be partially recovered by Election Day.
In the end, Furman said he believes the economy will be the 2020 election's central issue.
"Even today when we are at over 20 million unemployed Trump gets high marks on the economy, so I can't imagine what it looks like when things go in the other direction. I don't think this is a challenge for the Biden campaign. This is the challenge for the Biden campaign. If they can't figure this out they should all just go home," he told Politico.