August 24, 2020

🌞 Good Monday morning.

Favor: If you don't get Axios PM, my two-minute afternoon mindmeld, I'd be grateful if you'd sign up here — I'll have sneak peeks all week at the GOP convention.

1 big thing: Trump's economic promises

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's promises for future prosperity will be front and center during this week's Republican National Convention. Axios' Dan Primack and Courtenay Brown appraise his record from this term:


Grow the economy by 4% per year.

  • The U.S. economy grew by an average of 2.5% during Trump's first three years, topping out at 3% in 2018 and falling to 2.2% for 2019.

Reduce the national debt, and eliminate it entirely within eight years.

  • The federal debt was $19.57 trillion at the end of 2016. It has grown every year since, now approaching $27 trillion, with no slowdown in sight.


Renegotiate trade deals. ✔️

Decrease the trade deficit.

  • The national trade deficit has been larger in each of Trump's first three years in office than it was for 2016, per the U.S. Census Bureau.

Put tariffs on Chinese imports and stop theft of American trade secrets. ✔️ ❌

  • After nearly two years of tit-for-tat tariffs and stalled trade negotiations, the Trump administration signed a "Phase 1" trade deal earlier this year.
  • The deal fell short of what the administration wanted, and Trump recently said a Phase 2 deal is "unlikely."


"Bring back" U.S. manufacturing jobs. ✔️ ❌

  • The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs rose from 12.36 million in December 2016 to 12.87 million in December 2019. It's unclear how many of those jobs came "back" from overseas.
  • As of July 2020, there were fewer Americans employed in the manufacturing industry than before Trump took office.

"Complete revitalization" of the manufacturing industry. ✔️ ❌

  • The manufacturing industry's leading gauge of its own health, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, saw a sharp jump when Trump took office, and hit a 14-year high in 2018.
  • But that same index shows manufacturing contracted last year for the first time since January 2016, slipping to its lowest level since 2009.

"Put our miners and our steelworkers back to work." ✔️❌

  • The coal mining industry gained just 200 net jobs between December 2016 and December 2019, and then fell by thousands once the pandemic hit.
  • The number of steel and ironworker jobs increased by 10.3% between May 2016 and May 2019.

Companies like Apple will "start making their product, not in China, but in the U.S.A."

  • Apple continues to assemble the majority of its products in China.


"Massive tax relief to all working people" that won't add to debt or deficit. ✔️❌

  • Trump's tax cuts were the most sweeping changes in 30 years.
  • But the tax bill did not "pay for itself." The federal budget deficit increased in each of Trump's first three years, and in 2020 has been hitting monthly records.

Cut corporate taxes to 15%.

  • The corporate tax rate was cut from 35% to 21%.

"End the death tax."

  • This refers to the estate tax, which was altered instead of ended in the 2017 tax bill.
  • The threshold for paying this tax was doubled, but reverts back in 2026.

Exclude child care expenses from taxation. ❌

  • The 2017 tax bill did increase and expand the child tax credit, but not nearly to the level of covering typical child care costs.

"Trillions in new dollars and wealth" pouring into the country.

  • Annual investment by foreign entities in U.S. businesses were lower in each of Trump's first three years than in 2015 or 2016, last year hitting its lowest mark in over a decade.


Rescind "job-killing" regulations. ✔️❌

  • The Trump administration completed 243 deregulatory actions during its first two years — and the majority of the actions reviewed in that time period were deemed economically insignificant by the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
  • Many attempted deregulatory efforts ended up in court — and the Trump administration so far has lost nearly 90% of those cases.

The bottom line: Trump can't blame the pandemic for the lack of follow-through on some campaign promises. In other cases, the pandemic reversed some of Trump's economic bragging rights.

2. Where Americans want a virus vaccine to go first

Data: The Harris Poll. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

69% of respondents in a Harris survey said they’d support a priority system for distributing a vaccine within the U.S., while just 31% said they’d prefer a first-come, first-served approach, Axios health care editor Sam Baker writes.

  • But 66% of Americans said that if the U.S. develops the vaccine, it should only be made available abroad after all U.S. orders have been filled.
  • Just 34% said it should be made available overseas immediately.

Share this graphic.

3. Trump prods FDA

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn watches President Trump's announcement yesterday. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

The FDA's decision to authorize the emergency use of blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment — announced by President Trump yesterday — is one of its most controversial decisions of the pandemic.

How it works: Convalescent plasma has been used before, with other infections. And it has worked.

  • But the evidence that this approach will help with the coronavirus is limited.
  • The FDA had delayed the authorization for about a week after some of the country's top medical scientists, including Anthony Fauci and NIH Director Francis Collins, questioned whether the data was sufficient, the N.Y. Times reports.

White House officials have leaned on the FDA to move faster. Economic adviser Peter Navarro told FDA officials last week, "You are all Deep State and you need to get on Trump Time," Axios' Jonathan Swan reported in yesterday's Sneak Peek.

  • Trump tweeted over the weekend that "the deep state, or whoever" within the FDA of trying to delay therapeutics until after the election.

4. Pic du jour

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

A piano remains untouched near the charred remains of a residence engulfed by wildfire in Vacaville, Calif.

5. Trump launches massive digital buy for convention

Screenshot via YouTube

The Trump campaign plans to take over the YouTube masthead again this week, as it did during the Democratic convention, and flood streaming services like Hulu with pro-Trump messaging, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • The massive digital ad buy — in the high seven figures, according to the campaign — will complement the Trumpian production planned for each night of the convention this week.
  • The goal is to inundate Americans on TV and online.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. today, the campaign began running a series of ads on the YouTube masthead, prime online real estate, during all four days of the convention — a total of 96 hours.

6. Kellyanne: "Less drama, more mama"

Photos: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway announced last night that she is leaving the Trump administration at the end of the month, saying her family "requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times."

  • Her husband, George, simultaneously said he'd be stepping away from the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and going on a Twitter hiatus.

The moves come after their daughter Claudia, 15, has increasingly gained media attention for airing her personal grievances against their politics on Twitter and TikTok.

  • She also tweeted that she'd be stepping away from social media, encouraging her nearly 400,000 Twitter followers to offer "no hate" to her parents.

Read Kellyanne's full statement.

7. Inside Bidenworld: Valerie Biden Owens

Valerie Biden Owens speaks at a campaign stop in Des Moines in January. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Valerie Biden Owens has cultivated her famous brother's political career for the better part of a half-century, managing 36 years of Senate campaigns and two unsuccessful presidential bids, AP's Bill Barrow writes.

  • For Joe Biden's third White House chase, Val, as she's called in the former vice president's inner circle, stepped away from day-to-day operations but remains one of his most trusted advisers.

Q: Your brother still calls you his best friend and likes to say you've been on his handlebars since you were 3 years old —

  • VBO: I could do a flip to get on the handlebars or the side bar or the back fender. ... I could have gone into gymnastics.

Q: When did you first suspect he was headed for politics on a big stage?

  • VBO: It was in the neighborhood. From the time I can remember, I opened my eyes, and he was there. He put out his hand and said, "Come on, Val. We've got things do and people to see and places to go." And off we went. I was the only girl in the neighborhood, only girl in the family. His friends would look at him and say, "Why would you bring a girl?" He would say, "She's not a girl. She's my sister."

8. Stat du jour: Closed schools could deepen recession

Rachel Adamus waves goodbye to her children, Paul and Neva, as they ride the bus on Aug. 3 to the first day of school in Dallas, Ga. Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP

In "The Classroom Calamity," Barron's (subscription) estimates that remote learning — which means no cafeterias, no garbage pickup, etc. — "could cost the economy $700 billion in lost revenue and productivity."

9. Forthcoming business book: Getting to great

Cover: Portfolio

Jim Collins, author of the business classic "Good to Great," will be out Dec. 1 with "BE 2.0," an update of "Beyond Entrepreneurship," which he first wrote in 1992 with his mentor, the late Bill Lazier.

  • "BE 2.0" pulls together Collins' 30 years of research into "The Map."

10. 🏈 High schools are kicking off

Start dates for games, not practices. Data: MaxPreps. Graphic: Naema Ahmed/Axios

High school football has already kicked off in thousands of towns across America, and more will join them soon. Elsewhere, entire regions of the country have postponed the season, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

  • The state of play: Seven states have begun playing games, and 10 more are set to join them by the end of the week.
  • Another 17 states are scheduled to kickoff in September or October, while 16 states — plus Washington, D.C. — have moved the season to the spring.

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