WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has a new pitch to voters for this fall: Trust me.
As the economy faces a once-in-a-century recession, with more than 38 million people out of work, Trump is increasingly talking up a future recovery that probably won’t materialize until after the November election.
He’s asking voters to look past the pain being felt across the nation and give him another four-year term on the promise of an economic comeback in 2021.
“It’s a transition to greatness,” Trump says over and over, predicting a burgeoning economy come the fall. “You’re going to see some great numbers in the fourth quarter, and you’re going to end up doing a great year next year.”
His chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, echoes the wait-until-next-year sentiment, holding out hope for a “big bang 2021.”
It’s a delayed-reward tactic Trump was using long before the global pandemic gut-punched the country. He has turned to it with new urgency as the coronavirus has robbed him of the booming economy that was to be the core of his reelection message.
Trump had already pledged to finally release a Republican health care plan after the polls closed — despite having served more than three years in office — along with a postelection tax cut and a “Phase 2” trade deal with China.
Now, Trump is making the case to voters that if he helped bolster the economy once, he can do it again.
“We built the greatest economy in the world,” Trump says frequently. “I’ll do it a second time.”
It’s not just next year that will be a mystery to voters on Election Day. Trump and his team have been talking up the fourth quarter — October through December — but economic reports on that period won’t be released until 2021. Preliminary figures for the third quarter will be released Oct. 29, days before the Nov. 3 election. And unemployment could still be in double-digit territory by Election Day, White House economist Kevin Hassett and Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said in television interviews Sunday.