On Friday, President Donald Trump saw a blockbuster jobs report that showed not only unemployment falling once again during his administration but also record wage growth in an economic climate where it had remained stagnant for quite a while.
With Trump’s slogan, “Jobs Not Mobs,” he appeared to pivot to the economy as a contentious midterm election approached, and the historical odds suggested his party would lose seats in Congress. But according to Fox Business host Trish Regan, voters resonated more with Trump’s economic success than the identity politics pushed by many Democrats.
Regan, a longtime host on Fox Business who also appears across Fox News, just debuted a new prime-time show last month, which is besting the competition in her time slot at CNBC, according to Nielsen Media Research. She’ll also contribute to the network’s live, midterm election coverage on Tuesday.
In an interview with IJR, Regan discussed the role identity politics would play in midterms and how voters perceived Trump’s economic record.
IJR: Do you think economic policies will play a greater role in midterms this year than in previous years? Why?
Trish Regan: The economy is doing great — so theoretically, you’d think people would rush to the polls to vote for a continuation of the economic policies that have served us well. But politics is never that simple. Especially during midterms!
America is feeling more prosperous, and for that reason, Democrats have become increasingly nervous that their message is not resonating the way they had hoped. As such, they’ve needed to create a more emotional approach to voting, and the Republicans have returned the favor, with narratives that also center on emotion.
Both sides get that voters want to FEEL something as they head to the polls. Sadly, that’s why you’re seeing such an element of hysteria right now. Issues like immigration, the Supreme Court, and health care are all playing central roles alongside our economy in this midterm election. In comparison, in a four-year cycle, the economy is everything — but midterms are different. This is a moment when Americans may take a step back to think about their convictions on some of the biggest wedge issues. That’s one reason the balance of the House is so hard to predict.
News should be examined and analyzed through an economic and factual prism. There’s a LOT of noise out there, a lot of emotion, and a lot of personal conviction. It’s important to call it out.
What kind of impact do you think the latest jobs report could have on the polls?
The jobs report reinforces the strength of the administration’s economic agenda — job creation and wage growth. Voters have a renewed confidence in our economy, as well as numerical proof that lower taxes and less regulation can, indeed, unleash prosperity.
You’ve said that economic success is something Republicans can use to overcome the Democrats’ focus on identity politics. Why do you think the Democrats’ narrative is so strong but not strong enough to overcome positive economic news?
I’m glad you asked this. I despise identity politics. Passionately despise it — it is highly irresponsible and inaccurate. In many cases, especially now, it is insulting to history and all those that have suffered. You cannot trivialize horrific events like the Holocaust or horrific groups like the KKK, and yet? That’s what the mainstream media is attempting to do. It’s quite disturbing and intellectually dishonest.
Historically, women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and every other minority group has indeed faced (and we continue to face) horrible discrimination. It’s out there — but I want to emphasize — we will not allow it to hold us back. I don’t believe in telling an entire gender or race that we WON’T succeed due to historical biases and small-minded people. I believe in showing us how we WILL and CAN succeed.
Politically speaking, a positive message is a whole lot better than a negative one. Americans want something to believe in and vote FOR — not something to vote against. And this is why identity politics no longer works so well. Americans realize they’d rather be given an opportunity for success rather than be told, “You won’t make it without us and the handouts we offer.”
The left doesn’t like this message of empowerment right now because, let’s face it, they have gained support by convincing people they can’t get ahead because of racism, sexism, etc. and the only way to ensure equality is through a socialist-style redistribution of wealth. Frankly, it’s a lousy message, but I guess because the economy is doing so well, it’s all they’ve got.
Which of Trump’s economic policies do you think will be on voters’ minds when they go to the polls?
Economy. Voters don’t like a lot of his tweets and other antics — they would prefer him to act more presidential. But they love his policy, and they feel that, for the first time in many years, they have a shot at the American dream. That’s a big deal.
What role do you think feelings of economic security will play in the election? Do you think that voters could have a negative view of Republicans given their multiple failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act?
Economic security matters a lot. There is some frustration with the health care issue, and that’s quite real. However, I’m not sure it’s enough to counteract the good economic news we’re seeing.
A big argument coming from the left has been that Trump is exacerbating inequality with his tax reform package. Do you think inequality will be a factor in voters’ decisions this fall?
First of all, it’s not true. Nearly half the country pays no federal income tax. How exactly are you supposed to give a tax cut to someone who doesn’t pay taxes to begin with?
In high tax states like New York and California, this tax plan hurts some of the wealthiest Americans more, on a percentage basis, because those voters can no longer deduct their city and state taxes.
That said, I’ve made quite a point of saying this tax plan SHOULD have gone further. I would have loved to have seen the individual cut be made permanent, and I really wanted the administration to close the fat cat loophole for private equity professionals — because when you’ve got a billionaire paying a lesser tax percentage than an NYC cop? That’s messed up. It’s not investment, as they try to claim — it’s INCOME and should be treated as such.
As for corporations, gosh — we needed a lower rate! We were, all-in, the highest in the world? How was that competitive? And isn’t it nice that we’re no longer hearing about those corporate shotgun marriages? You know, the ones where an American company runs offshore to a country like Ireland, to scoop up a company there in a so-called “inversion” deal just to secure a lower tax rate! We must be competitive, and this tax plan makes us competitive.
Do you think voters are disappointed with Congress for not passing more economic reforms? If so, which ones?
Ahhhh — you’re going to bring me right back to the fat cat carried “interest” loophole! On the campaign trail, candidate Donald Trump promised to get rid of it — rightly pointing out that Barack Obama never did and Hillary Clinton had no interest in offending her donor base. But it wasn’t in the tax plan. I think for consistency’s sake, it would have been an important thing to include.
How much do you think voters have been hurt by some of Trump’s deregulatory and economic agenda? I’m thinking specifically about the many ways he’s attacked Obamacare and removed things like subsidies for low-income Americans.
Americans are all benefiting from a better economy. We have the lowest unemployment rate since 1969! Wages are growing just over 3 percent (finally!) Wouldn’t you rather have a shot at earning a living — and all the pride that comes with work — than rely on taxpayer-funded handouts? I want the government to help those to help themselves — and I think most Americans, deep down, agree with that.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to more accurately describe Trish Regan’s role at Fox News.