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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Trump always counted on the economy to carry him to re-election, but now he's testing it as a central argument against impeachment.

Why it matters: If Americans see their economic fortunes tied to whether Trump is impeached, it could make Democrats' next moves on impeachment that much harder — and give Trump a new insurance policy for the general election.

His argument has two parts:

  • Americans would be crazy to eject someone from office who is presiding over historically low unemployment and high stock gains.
  • If the economy tanks before November 2020, don't blame Trump — blame Democrats for fomenting uncertainty and gridlock via impeachment.

Driving the news: Trump goaded Democrats on Twitter Friday when the latest jobs numbers showed the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to a 50-year low: "Wow, America, lets [sic] impeach your President (even though he did nothing wrong!)."

  • But about the same time, the Trump campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh, pushed a parallel message about the perils of impeachment: "They are willing to plunge the whole country and people’s lives into turmoil through impeachment talk, all because of their hatred of @realDonaldTrump."

The big picture: If the election were today, Trump could run on some very strong results including positive signs for Latinos and African Americans. But there are already signs the economy is buckling under the weight of Trump's trade war.

As Axios' Dion Rabouin notes:

  • The U.S. manufacturing sector has been in recession all year, and the latest reading showed the industry falling into an outright contraction and at its weakest point since the financial crisis.
  • U.S. services have been following manufacturing lower this year, with this week's data showing the sector at its weakest in 3 years.
  • The U.S. Treasury yield curve has been inverted since May — a near-perfect recession indicator economists at the Federal Reserve recently called "the best summary measure" of a looming economic downturn.
  • Income inequality in the U.S. grew last year to its highest level in more than 50 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released this week.
  • Though Trump has touted "tremendous" growth in the U.S. stock market since he became president, the S&P 500 is within spitting distance of where it traded around 2 years ago.

Be smart: Trump already plans to blame Democrats and impeachment — and minimize his own responsibility — if legislation on trade, prescription drug prices, gun safety and infrastructure stalls this fall.

  • But the economy could be an especially potent issue in swing states he needs to hold next year, if he can convince voters impeachment has anything to do with it.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
38 mins ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.

2 hours ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools. 

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

GameStop as a metaphor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A half-forgotten and unprofitable videogame retailer is, bizarrely and incredibly, on the lips of the nation. That's because the GameStop story touches on economic and cultural forces that affect everyone, whether they own a single share of stock or not.

Why it matters: In most Wall Street fights, the broader public doesn't have a rooting interest. This one — where a group of small traders won a multi-billion-dollar bet against giant hedge funds by buying stock in GameStop — is different.