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My view: Flagging economy should give Trump an edge over Clinton

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the Trump National Golf Club, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Jupiter, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky, AP

It is increasingly likely Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off for the White House, and if Americans — including women — want a prosperous future, they should pull the lever for Trump.

President Barack Obama would like us to believe things are getting better every day, and now Hillary Clinton seeks the presidency to build on his policies. However, their record is hardly one of great success.

Median family incomes are down about $1,650 since the Democrats took control of the White House.

Elderly women are working in record numbers, because pensions and retirement incomes are decimated by disappointing stock market returns and near-zero interest rates. African-Americans remain mired in high unemployment and too many are in poverty. Young folks, bogged down by student loans, can’t buy homes and face rocketing apartment rents.

China’s economic miracle was founded on a cheap currency and easy lending from state-owned banks to build factories with few apparent customers and office and apartment towers with even fewer tenants. Beijing’s answer to this crisis is an even cheaper yuan against the dollar and hoisting bogus corporate bonds onto unwitting private investors.

In Europe, the single currency is a bust. Private employers and cynical economists peddle the notion that cheap refugee labor from Syria and other war-torn locations will revive a moribund European Union even though youth unemployment and underemployment is as high as 50 percent in some places.

Is it any wonder that smart Brits want out of the EU, despite the wrenching costs of a divorce!

Japan can’t grow, because young women aren’t marrying and having babies and its population is shrinking. Nothing boosts investment in everything from appliances to apartments like new mouths to feed, youngsters to amuse and educate, and the career ambitions those responsibilities inspire in young adults. Japan’s industrial powerhouse will be a museum by midcentury because its leaders are too shy to engage young women about the crisis or accept immigration.

As in China, policymakers in Europe and Japan have pushed down their currencies to flood U.S. markets with cheap imports, American manufacturers are already mired in recession and the Obama administration responds with nothing more than words.

U.S. consumer spending remains reasonably strong, but too many of the products come from abroad where manufacturers desperately slash prices to meet debt payments. U.S. exporters face declining markets for software, machinery, banking services and the like.

Growth slowed to a paltry 1 percent in the fourth quarter as businesses refused to invest, and the trade deficit, save oil, continued to drag on growth. Although economists expect some pickup in 2016, estimates for the risk of recession run as high as 76 percent.

Should the economy tumble, Hillary Clinton will try to buy off voters with more Obama-vintage free stuff that makes creating jobs in the private sector so tough.

Sending more young folks to college doesn’t help them prosper if they don’t learn a marketable skill. Free tuition will just stuff more unqualified students in my classroom — already some 40 percent university graduates lack basic skills for white-collar work.

Expanding Obamacare-mandated benefits will push up prices for drugs, medical services and insurance premiums even more and cause employers to hire even fewer workers.

Instead of more jobs, America will have more debt and more employers fleeing to Mexico, where wages are cheap and the government is more friendly to business.

Stripping away the name-calling and foul language, Trump offers a vision not of a handout society, where politicians bribe voters in the style of Roman emperors passing out free grain at the Colosseum, but rather a strong America that asserts its rights in global commerce.

Like Trump, even liberal economist Paul Krugman supports a tax on Chinese imports to force an end to the Middle Kingdom’s beggar-thy-neighbor policies.

America did not become a superpower by being timid, and it’s time for a president who understands this.

Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. He tweets @pmorici1.