- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2019

Businessman Tom Steyer gave voters in New Hampshire something to chew on over the holidays, cautioning them Monday against choosing a 2020 presidential nominee who could be cast as a socialist and a threat to the economy.

Mr. Steyer has exceeded expectations since getting into the race but remains a long-shot in the party’s nomination fight as the field prepares for the post-New Year’s sprint toward the Iowa caucuses and the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.

Speaking at a Politics and Eggs event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm University, Mr. Steyer said he has the professional chops to pick apart President Trump’s business acumen and misses on the economic front.

“We can’t have a candidate where he can paint them as a socialist who will destroy the economy because Americans care about growth and prosperity as well as economic justice,” Mr. Steyer said.

“After 30 years building a business from scratch, finding out what creates prosperity, I feel like I have unique experience and expertise in terms of pointing out the fact that Mr. Trump is actually a fake businessperson and failed businessperson,” he said. “He actually played a businessperson on a reality TV show and that he is actually a terrible steward of the American economy.”

Mr. Trump has signaled that he plans to make the case that he deserves another term in large part because of his record on the economy.

Polls show a majority of voters approve of the way Mr. Trump has handled the economy and that they are better off financially today than they were in 2016.

The federal unemployment rate has been falling since 2010 and continued to drop on Mr. Trump’s watch from 4.7% to 3.5%. The nation also has added more than 6 million jobs.

Mr. Trump can tout the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaces NAFTA, and passage of tax cuts, and is celebrating the “phase one” deal with China that puts off fresh tariffs and compels Beijing to buy more U.S. pork, soybeans and other farm products.

The national debt, however, continued to rise from $19.9 trillion to more than $23 trillion, and the annual budget deficit nearly reached $1 trillion.

Mr. Steyer said Monday the economy should be stronger.

“If you actually look at the things he has done, they have been counterproductive and bad for the American people, and so I think we need somebody who can take him on and take him down in terms of economics,” he said.

“His campaign schtick is ‘I’m a criminal who hates 80% of America, but you can’t afford to get rid of me,’ and what we have to prove is we can afford to get rid of him,” he said.

Mr. Steyer, who founded an investment firm in the 1980s, entered the race later than most of the candidates and was able to make up for lost time by tapping into his personal wealth and spending it on television commercials that have blanketed the airwaves in the early primary states with his vow to reduce the influence of corporations and combat climate change, which he says is his No. 1 priority.

The strategy has worked well enough to qualify him for debates that saw several elected lawmakers miss the cut. Mr. Steyer has never held elected office.

He is running seventh in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he reminded voters Monday that he supports term limits, a wealth tax on the super-rich and a government-run public option on health care.

“I believe in a vibrant competitive innovative private sector,” he said. “I just don’t want companies to write the rules. I want the government to work for the people of the United States and that the private sector works within the rules that serve the people.”

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