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The Question Trump Needs to Ask Repeatedly Until November 5

A Commentary By Brian Joondeph

The upcoming election is unique in that both current candidates have a record to run on. Not as a senator or governor, but as the U.S. President, each having served a term in the White House.

It is therefore not only fair, but of utmost importance, to compare the state of the union under their respective presidencies.

During the final week or the presidential campaign between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, at their single presidential debate, Reagan asked this pivotal question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”

The rest is history and Reagan subsequently won two landslide victories.

This is the most important question that Trump can ask during the upcoming presidential debate and every day thereafter until election day on November 5.

How are Americans doing today compared to four years ago? Not so well.

Rasmussen Reports asked this question another way. Here is the reply.

“By a 30-point margin, more Americans say their personal finances have gotten worse than better, and less than a third of them expect their situation to improve in the months ahead.”

Will the economy be important to voters? As opposed to Ukraine, climate change, abortion, or gender confusion?

Rasmussen Reports a few months ago received the answer.

“Eight months before the presidential election, economic issues and immigration matter more to voters than abortion.”

“91% of likely U.S. voters believe economic issues will be important in this year’s presidential election, including 65% who expect the economy to be a very important issue.”

James Carville had it right when he helped Bill Clinton win the 1992 election saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

So how do things look now compared to four years ago?

In May 2020, the inflation rate was 0.1%. In May 2024, four years later, the inflation rate was 3.3%, 30 times higher compared to four years ago. Inflation reached a peak of 9.1% in June 2022.

While the inflation rate has come down some, as long as the rate is above zero, prices are going up. Three percent may be lower than 9%, but inflation is cumulative.

Prices are rising faster than incomes and consumers are spending a larger proportion of their incomes for the same products now compared to four years ago. Even if the inflation rate is dropping, prices are still rising.

What about food prices? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The cost of groceries has risen by 25.2 percent since February 2020. According to BLS data, you’d have to go back to the 1970s to see that kind of a jump in so short a time span.”

The 1970’s? Which president was asked the big question back then? (Hint: reread the third paragraph above).

The Washington Examiner notes that since prices are rising faster than wages, the average worker’s paycheck buys 4.4% less today compared to when President Biden took office. The monthly mortgage payment on an average-priced home as more than doubled and 75% of Americans view fast food as a luxury meal they can’t afford.

What about immigration and the border? Actually, it’s a BINO – border in name only.

According to Pew Research, monthly migrant encounters were 16 thousand  in April 2020. Four years later, that jumped to 250 thousand, a 15-fold increase. This doesn’t include gotaways.

Fox News reports, “There were more gotaways in FY21-23 (1.6 million) than the decade of FY 2010 to FY 2020 (1.4 million).” Rampant illegal immigration is far worse today compared to four years ago and even before that.

What about the endless stream of murders committed by illegal aliens as in this recent story, “Illegal immigrant from El Salvador charged in rape, killing of Maryland mom of 5.” Expect more and more of these stories.

If Biden believes opening the borders to Latin Americans will increase his popularity with some voters, he guessed wrong. Newsweek reports, “that a majority of Hispanic people favor the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.”

The latte and laptop class elites in Martha’s Vineyard and Georgetown may virtue signal about millions of new migrants since their lives are largely unaffected. Not so for the rest of working Americans.

What about gas prices? Per the US Energy Information Administration, retail gasoline price was $1.96 per gallon in May 2020 and $3.73 per gallon in May 2024, four years later, almost twice as expensive.

Home mortgage rates are another metric now far worse compared to four years ago. As the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis explains, “In June 2020, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage average in the US was 3.1% Four years later in June 2024, the rate has jumped to 6.9%, more than double.”

Trump, in the debate and at his rallies, should avoid relitigating the 2020 election. A majority of likely voters already believe that cheating affected the outcome, per Rasmussen Reports.

Trump also does not need to highlight Biden’s stumbles and gaffes as these are painfully obvious to anyone exposed to the news.

CBS News acknowledged, “Voters in battleground states say the economy is a top issue.” It is indeed the economy, stupid. Trump and the GOP need to pound this point home every day until November 5.

Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a physician and writer.

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