Back in March, some of the financial sector's leading analysts bumped the chances of a global economic recession from 20 percent to 30 percent. The chances are still minuscule, but the danger always looms. And given the tragic consequences of the Great Recession, any new indicators leading to another potential recession ought to be met with, at the very least, a tone of seriousness. Today, with the Brexit referendum passing in favor of leaving the European Union, and the subsequent decline in the British pound and, specifically, worsening indicators leading toward a British recession, there's renewed fears of the Brexit shockfront crushing neighboring economies as well.
In the United States, meanwhile, the Republican position on Brexit seems to be based upon everything except the economic repercussions. Instead, the GOP's posture appears to be simply blurting the opposite of whatever President Obama and the Democrats have to say about it. Indeed, the standard for any GOP argument since 2008 has been, simply put, Opposite Day. If Obama's for it, they're against it — even if Obama's position was once a GOP position (the individual mandate, NSA metadata collection, predator drones, immigration reform, cap-and-trade, and the list goes on). While the GOP never really supported Brexit, they should have, especially knowing that the E.U. was one of the U.S.'s signature achievements after World War II, further assuring there aren't continued world wars as the atomic age began. Beyond that, the possibility of a Brexit-induced recession should've frightened them away. However, we're assuming the GOP is driven by rational policy choices in 2016. It's not.
Donald Trump, for his part, isn't interested in the justifications for, or the post-war history of Europe. He's only really interested in taking a position because, as with his party, it's the opposite of Obama's and Hillary's. Had he been less driven to blurt a reaction to a potentially cataclysmic event -- an event that he was totally unfamiliar with just a month ago, and if he had thought through a strategy that was a slightly more detailed than the 140 character limit on Twitter, he would've picked up on a golden opportunity to link Hillary and the Obama administration to a forthcoming recession, regardless of whether it was precipitated by Brexit.
This week, while appearing on stage with Elizabeth Warren for the first time, Hillary Clinton accurately observed that the Wall Street fallout from Brexit cost Americans around $100 billion, all of which vanished when the markets reacted to the Trump-supported Brexit vote:
“And on Friday, when Britain voted to leave the European Union, he crowed from his golf course about how the disruption could end up creating higher profits for that golf course, even though within 24 hours Americans lost $100 billion from our 401(k)s. He tried to turn a global economic challenge into an infomercial.”
Average Americans weren't the only people impacted by Trump's beloved Brexit vote. Around 400 of his fellow billionaires (if you believe what he says about his net worth) worldwide lost $196.2 billion due to the "leave" vote. This is what Trump supports? Weird. At the very least, experts at Goldman-Sachs are foreseeing a decline in the U.S. economy from around 2.25 percent growth to two-percent straight up. Britain itself appears to be poised for a recession late this year or in early 2017.
Nevertheless, Trump missed a fantastic opportunity to sidestep the Brexit vote and, therefore, to fully blame a would-be recession on Hillary Clinton and her allies in the Obama administration. Instead, if Brexit continues to disrupt the world economy, he'll absolutely remain on-record as having supported the spark that touched off the decline. Simultaneously and moving forward, Hillary can easily marry Trump to Brexit and brand the downturn as the "Trump Recession." Conversely, had Trump kept his self-defeating mouth shut and, perhaps, continued to mock disabled people -- you know, because he has "the best words" -- he could've solely linked Hillary and Obama to the recession, without even mentioning Brexit as an inciting incident.
But, once again, Trump stepped into the pitch and, for no real political gain, took a fastball to the side of his clown-wigged noggin. Sure, Trump is politically astute enough to realize that playing Opposite Day politics plays well with his brainwashed cult-like base. They're with him no matter what, so, in the near-term it shouldn't matter. After all, another feature of modern GOP strategy is political expedience over long-term gains. Trump's got a lock on around 30 percent of American voters, but he's clearly underestimating the number of Republicans, like George Will, Glenn Beck or Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who are easily capable of sidestepping a vote for Trump and supporting someone -- anyone -- else, not to mention the scores of moderate undecided voters. The question moving forward is whether Trump is capable of making any winnable political choices, given how he's vowed to "have so much winning, you may get tired of winning." Instead of positioning himself to immediately link Hillary to a sputtering economy, he's linked himself to it.
He's, in effect, dropped the ball on two issue areas that are normally owned by the GOP: the economy and national security. According to the new ABC News / Washington Post poll, Obama's approval on the economy is hovering around 55 percent, while Hillary has been seen more favorably than Trump on her reaction to Orlando. If Trump can't win on these issues, he might as well give up. And I'm not sure he hasn't.