Trump campaign defends first-term economic record

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Marc Lotter is the director of strategic communications for President Trump’s reelection campaign and served as a special assistant to the president and press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence during most of the first year of the Trump administration.

Prior to joining Pence’s team, he served as the communications director for the Indiana Republican Party and for former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Before entering public service, Lotter spent 13 years as a producer and manager for television stations across the country.

A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Lotter graduated from Ball State University, majoring in telecommunications and political science. A dedicated Hoosiers, Colts, and Cubs fan, Lotter lives in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife, Nicole, and his dog Wrigley.

Lotter, 50, spoke to the Washington Examiner about the 2020 election and Trump’s economic track record.

Washington Examiner: What do you think about most polls showing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is up by 10-11 points?

Marc Lotter: Those polls are so methodically flawed. It’s not even funny. I mean, it’s literally laughable.

Washington Examiner: Are there any polls that you think are doing a good job, that are accurate and better?

Lotter: I mean, I trust our numbers. We were right in 2016. And we don’t just do our own polling. There’s a number of factors we take into it. Our numbers show that we’re right where we were. Actually, we’re ahead of where we were in 2016. And then, you add on our tremendous ground gains from the past three years, not just the past three months. We closed the voter registration gap in Pennsylvania by nearly 200,000 votes, so we added 200,000 more Republicans than they had, and so, in a state that we won by 44,000 votes, now we have 200,000 more supporters. We have the same thing going on in Iowa, the same thing going on in Pennsylvania and in Minnesota. A lot of these little ground game things aren’t showing up in the polls, but when you look at a very close election, they’re absolutely kind of game changing in the margins.

Washington Examiner: But are there any numbers he can point you outside of your own? Obviously, you trust your numbers, but nobody else can quite place their entire stock or faith in that.

Lotter: No, I think there are some polls that more closely follow the reality. I think Zogby has been very good. Rasmussen has been very good. But again, I’m not going to say just because I say that, that their last poll is right because I haven’t seen the numbers on it. I’m just saying historically.

Washington Examiner: What kind of tangibles and specifics do you think people can look forward to, especially when they’re looking at their own wallets and finances in the next year to come, if the president gets reelected?

Lotter: I think twofold. First and foremost, obviously, you’re going to have a continued favorable environment, both from tax policy from a deregulation standpoint and then also the president’s strong focus on returning manufacturing back to the U.S., especially as it relates to medical, pharmaceutical, PPE, those kinds of things. As we are continuing to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, I think that will be very strong. I think the focus on low taxes, deregulation will continue to buoy the stock market, which is good for everyone with a 401(k) or saving for a child’s college education or something along those lines. And then, obviously, the continued push for energy independence is very critical.

Washington Examiner: On the topic of the stock market, recent forecasts from investment strategists and bankers at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Barclays show that the stock market would be strongest and give the most returns under a Biden presidency combined with Democrats controlling the House and Senate. Your thoughts?

Lotter: I think that would probably track where most of their campaign contributions are going as well, to Biden. I’m not sure how much economic expertise that they have, and I’m speaking not to any specific individual report. Many of these so-called experts also thought that we were going to have unemployment still around 10% at the end of the year. And we have greatly improved upon that. A lot of people also didn’t anticipate that we would have such a strong, robust economy under President Trump, and he’s proved them wrong.

I mean, the examples that I would use are the Census Bureau report from a couple of weeks ago that showed in 2019, before the virus came ashore, American household income was the highest ever recorded. You had women seeing larger gains than men, low-income people seeing larger gains than higher-income folks, and black Americans and Hispanic and Latino Americans closing the wage gap at record levels.

Washington Examiner: What would you say to those who say all these objective metrics of Americans being better off in the past four years under President Trump’s watch aren’t thanks to his direct actions? The constant pushback I hear is that much of the economic progress occurred due to momentum from President Obama’s administration, and they cite things like state minimum wages going up, which played a big role. A lot of people give marginal credit to the president but mostly attribute it to other factors.

Lotter: I think that’s just convenient spin from them, having an argument that they can’t win. We know that the Trump tax cuts unleashed not only a wave of money into the system, that 82% of Americans have benefited from them, including families and the working class. But then, when you even look on the corporate side, it unleashed a wave for new capital investment and new hiring, which we obviously saw.

Washington Examiner: Some folks on the other side or moderates say there hasn’t been any sort of transformative or institutional shift in terms of wealth being passed down to those in the lower class or lower-middle class and that wages really haven’t gone up that much. It’s been small, very small increases. What do you say in response to them?

Lotter: I’m gonna push back on that, and I’m gonna go off memory here, so I may not get my facts 100% correct. But if I remember correctly, and again, I’m going off memory, household income or per capita income went up like $3,000 over the course of 16 years under Presidents [George W.] Bush and Obama. And under Trump, in three and a half years, it has already gone up another $4,000. So we are seeing those gains. And we’ve seen the income gains going to those at the bottom bigger than they are going to those at the top. We are seeing a reduction in poverty and a slashing of welfare rolls. These are all the earliest signs.

And I would go back to something that I had read over and over and heard anecdotally over and over again. That before the coronavirus, people were getting new opportunities because there was such a tight labor market. And we had historically low unemployment, and basic economics shows that when you have that, you push wages up, which is good. But also many companies were having to go outside of their traditional hiring pools to find talent, to find new workers. And that was what was really driving and providing opportunities, especially in underserved communities that have been traditionally not looked to.

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