On Wednesday’s episode of Morning Joe, the outrageous MSNBC host peddled a wild conspiracy theory that the only reason people thought former President Trump’s economy was great was because Trump kept saying so over and over again, and chided the media for falling for it. He simultaneously faulted the American people for having negative ideas about the Biden economy.
Scarborough brought in MSNBC’s economic analyst Steve Rattner to show his audience the charts and data to try and explain the phenomenon liberal media hacks just couldn’t understand: people did not approve of President Biden’s handling of the US economy.
The fact that Rattner’s chart contrasting President Trump’s and President Biden’s rating on the “Misery Index” and Consumer Sentiment Index clearly favored Trump needed a wild idea to explain. And Scarborough brought it, whining that the media (including MSNBC) bought unto Trump’s narrative that the economy was good (Click “expand”):
“Because it was always, it was always so interesting that Donald Trump ran around every day talking about the greatest economy ever, I’ve got the greatest economy ever, I’ve got the greatest economy ever, and actually people not just on Fox News, people on this network would begin their questions by going, well, of course Donald Trump has the best economy in history or whatever. It’s like that got into the bloodstream of not just people around trump, but, you know, journalists who he said it so much, they started believing it. I just want to throw a little bit of reality on to this …
So he [Trump] really didn’t have a strong economy if you are measuring it actually by other presidents. And yet you look at that consumer confidence and people just assume Trump had a great economy because Trump kept saying I have a great economy.”
So, according to Scarborough, the economic prosperity under Trump that polls show the majority of people agree was real, was actually not. It was all just an illusion they made up in their minds because they were mindless morons who believed whatever Trump said. It definitely was not because of, as Rattner admitted:
“He [Trump] also did have low inflation and low unemployment, I take your point about his relative performance to the other presidents.”
It is shocking that Scarborough could not figure out that having low unemployment and inflation- the two data points that make up the Misery Index he was just shown- could lead to people having a positive view of the Trump economy.
Finally, Scarborough’s rank leftism inevitably led him to blame not Biden, but everyday Americans for pessimistic views on Biden’s economy. Scarborough zeroed in on one statistic that roughly 73 percent of Americans were positive about their current personal finances, ignoring the possibility that they could actually have that good number because of Trump’s economy. He complained about “all the bitching and whining” from the right and then leveled the accusation that American consumers have a “massive disconnect” where they should love Biden’s economy despite the inflation. He also scolded younger economists and reporters for fretting the runaway inflation under Biden. “And it is, it’s been for a lot of people, younger people for the media as well who don’t remember 1979, 1980, 1981 when interest rates were shooting up into the high teens,” he lectured.
Rattner also got into the game of blaming the media for giving the public the “very negative perceptions of what they are seeing in the media about inflation and obviously that also effects public opinion.” Adding that it was “simply a perception that the job situation is not nearly as good as it is, frankly, and as at least some people are reporting it.”
Meanwhile, MSNBC’s sister network, NBC, recently ran a story how the Biden economy was so bad it was destroying job offers for college grads.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe
7:32 AM ET
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s go to the big board though first, let’s go to Steve Rattner. Hey Steve, you know I asked last week about you know all of these positive economic signs. You had yet another chart yesterday talking about investment in manufacturing in the United States. Just exploding in ways that are really heartening. And yet there’s this dichotomy, there’s a dichotomy between what the economic numbers are showing and how Americans are feeling. You’ve got some charts to explain why. Tell us about it.
STEVE RATTNER: Yeah, Joe, it’s a question you and I have talked about fairly often and fairly regularly. You’ve asked me a few times. I don’t know that I have a perfect answer, but let me show you some numbers that may at least help everybody who’s on the show at the moment, help answer this question.
So, let’s start over here and talk about how bad people feel at the moment. First of all, it’s interesting that the country has been on a wrong track going all the way back really to after the 9/11 moment subsided. But you’ve had this very, very steadily negative feeling among Americans about right track, wrong track. You can see on optimism about the economy notwithstanding what you just mentioned and a lot of other positive data, steeply, still deeply in negative territory. You can see consumer sentiment notwithstanding again good news, deeply in negative territory.
And not surprisingly when you look at presidential approval ratings, you can see that President Biden is unfortunately in deeply negative territory after having had a good start to his presidency. Even Obama had a fairly mixed up and down but some positive times — in positive territory.
So let’s look at a, try to look at a correlation between some economic conditions and how people feel. So if you look down here, this is what we call the misery index. This is the combination going back in the ’70s during a terrible time in the country of course, combination of unemployment plus inflation added up. And so you can see way back in May 1980, the misery index was in really bad shape. But then if you look at that against consumer sentiment, and you draw a line, do a statistical analysis, you draw a line and say what is the correlation between these two, the correlation is quite high.
And you can see that even President Trump in each of these dots represents a month, even President Trump essentially hugged that line. President Biden on the other hand, his numbers have come in way below that line. And in other words consumer sentiment is far worse than what would be suggested by Biden’s actual performance in terms of unemployment plus inflation.
SCARBOROUGH: You know, and, Steve, let me interrupt you here, too. Because it was always, it was always so interesting that Donald Trump ran around every day talking about the greatest economy ever, I’ve got the greatest economy ever, I’ve got the greatest economy ever” And actually people not just on Fox News, people on this network would begin their questions by going, well, of course Donald Trump has the best economy in history or whatever.
It’s like that got into the bloodstream of not just people around Trump, but, you know, journalists who he said it so much, they started believing it. I just want to throw a little bit of reality on to this.
Even before COVID, we could talk about the thing that matters so much to me and that is the debt, just record setting debts, the biggest budget busting budgets ever, the biggest deficits ever. But even beyond debt, even with all the spending, even with all the tax cuts, post-World War II, he ranked seventh in GDP growth behind Jimmy Carter even, behind Jimmy Carter and I think Gerald Ford and several others. Even before COVID.
So, he really didn’t have a strong economy if you are measuring it actually by other presidents. And yet, you look at that consumer confidence and people just assume Trump had a great economy because Trump kept saying I have a great economy.
RATTNER: So that may be simply a question of salesmanship, presidential leadership, whatever you want to call it. But yeah, Trump convinced people he had very high consumer sentiment numbers. He also did have low inflation and low unemployment. I take your point about his relative performance to the other presidents.
But Biden also has a good economy at the moment. We have 3.7 percent unemployment. Yes, we have some inflation, but I’ll show you numbers on incomes and things still doing well. And yet he has not been able to — or people have not responded to it by having a reasonable amount of positive attitude toward the economy. And consumer sentiment is down here in the toilet back in June ‘22, it was as bad as it was in May ’80 even though the economy was obviously vastly better than it was in May ’80.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, okay, so let’s go to the next chart about inflation and the impact on the national outlook.
RATTNER: So, let’s start with a point you sort of made there, which was people actually are in pretty good economic situations and they actually think that they are in pretty good economic situations. Seventy-three percent of Americans think their personal finances are either good or very good. That’s a big number. But when you ask them about communities, only 39% say their communities are good or very good in terms of…
SCARBOROUGH: Steve, hold on, I’ve gotta stop you. You just said something that I know is surprising to a lot of people that are watching the show right now. Three out of four Americans, we hear all the bitching and all the whining about how bad the economy is from the right, the Trump right. Three out of four Americans think their economic situation is either good or very good. I mean, this would suggest again a massive disconnect. Not from what Joe Biden’s saying but what Americans are saying about their own good economic situation.
RATTNER: They are saying that, Joe, that’s exactly right. They’re also saying that their communities they think only 40 percent good or excellent. They’re saying in the country, only 18 percent good or excellent. And if you ask people where do you think you’re gonna be a year from now, they’re actually not that optimistic, they’re actually more pessimistic than optimism. So, it’s a very odd set of personal feelings.
One possible explanation for all of this is inflation. People hate inflation. It is one of the, that’s why it is in the misery index. But you can see nonetheless that under Joe Biden, the consumer pricing index has gone up by 15.3 percent. Personal incomes have gone up by 19.2 percent. Meaning that people have still stayed ahead of inflation as a whole. But at that said, there are a number of categories, a lot of sensitive things that people buy often or at least are very exposed to the prices of, that have gone up by much, much higher numbers. Food, cars, energy, and this is automobiles here.
And so, on one hand their incomes if you — as an economist would look at it, have gone up after inflation, but they are still feeling a lot of the effects of inflation and I think a lot of the pundits so to speak would say that this is a part of why the other numbers I showed you before look so bad.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, I talked before about how people in the media were going “well, of course, yes, Donald Trump’s economy is the best” just because he kept saying it, but media negativity also has had a big impact on Biden as well and it’s pulled him down.
Just a side comment here, Steve, most people in the media, they don’t remember — well, they never reported on inflation. This was a shock for a lot of economists who had never dealt with inflation in their adult life. This was a shock for politicians who have never had to go around and knock on doors and explain what’s happening with inflation. And it is, it’s been for a lot of people, younger people for the media as well who don’t remember 1979, 1980, 1981 when interest rates were shooting up into the high teens.
RATTNER: So, to your point about that, Joe, there is evidence that media certainly affects people’s views. And that’s what these charts here show.
And so this basically asks the question of the news I see about inflation, is mostly blank. Positive, negative. And so you can see if you look at their sentiment and you compare it to what is actually happening, you can, obviously, see a big correlation. When inflation spiked up, there was a negative feeling toward inflation. Inflation becomes fairly benign, still a little bit negative, but pretty benign. And then the spike in inflation again, obviously, very negative perceptions of what they’re seeing in the media about inflation and obviously that also affects public opinion.
But here’s, that’s not surprising. That’s probably what you would have expected. But here is something that I think that is surprising, which is if you do the same exact analysis for unemployment, and jobs, you can see the news I see about employment is mostly — and back there it was very negative. We had the great jobs explosion here in the 2000s, up to and including COVID, obviously you have COVID, but then the jobs numbers start to recover and they get all the way back to where they were here, but the negativity doesn’t recover.
In fact, it turns negative. It was positive before COVID, it went negative even though the jobs numbers are so good, and it has stayed negative. Why is that? A couple possible explanations. Of course, none of us never really know the answer. One is that there is more talk about layoffs at the moment and that may well be having an effect on people’s psyches. But beyond that, it’s simply a perception that the job situation is not nearly as good as it is, frankly, and as at least some people are reporting it.