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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

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
10 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.