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Some voters got bamboozled by Trump’s false economic claims | READER COMMENTARY

President-elect Joe Biden waves as he departs after mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President-elect Joe Biden waves as he departs after mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon/AP)

Kalman Hettleman urged Democrats to focus future messaging on “true economic populism” (“The problem with the Democrats' messaging," Nov. 13). This warms the cockles of my economist’s heart but omits an important reason for Donald Trump’s appeal to minorities — the misperception that he was “good for the economy” and thus for working and middle classes.

This misperception was promoted by daily print and broadcast media stories of stock market highs and frequent reports of "historically low” unemployment. Actually, President Trump’s economic record looks weak compared to that of President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. In the three pre-pandemic Trump years (2017 to 2019), workers’ average real hourly pay (wages plus employer-paid benefits) actually fell by 0.4% for the whole private sector, while it rose 6.8% in 2014-2016 (last three Obama-Biden years).

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In campaign speeches, Mr. Biden often stated that real economic growth in 2014-2016 exceeded that in 2017-2019 (Mr. Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy notwithstanding). Mr. Hettleman is right that better Democratic messaging is needed, but so is better economic reporting by the media.

David Salkever, Baltimore

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The writer is a professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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