Asked for his economic plan, Trump focuses on his 'feelings'

Asked for his plan to help the economy, Trump focused on his "feelings." The disconnect between the question and the answer is a problem.
Image: President Trump talks with Reuters in interview at the White House in Washington
President Donald Trump talks with Reuters White House correspondent Steve Holland as they walk down the West Wing colonnade with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before an interview with Reuters about China, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and other subjects in the Oval Office on April 29, 2020.Carlos Barria / Reuters

A couple of years ago, Donald Trump boasted, "I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else's brain can ever tell me." The line was reminiscent of Stephen Colbert's old character from his Comedy Central show -- except Colbert was kidding and the president was not.

Nevertheless, Trump echoed the sentiment yesterday during an Oval Office event. A reporter reminded the president that Americans are experiencing economic conditions unseen since the Great Depression and asked, "What is your plan to get the country out of this ditch?" He replied:

"Well, I think we're going to have a great third quarter. That's going to be a transition. So when I say 'great,' I think the transition is going to be really terrific. And we're going to take it into the fourth, and I think we're going to have, potentially, a great fourth quarter. There's tremendous pent-up demand.... I feel it. I feel it. I think sometimes what I feel is better than what I think, unfortunately or fortunately."

Right off the bat, it's unsettling just how frequently Trump references his "feelings" about things that are detached from evidence of reason. As regular readers know, it wasn't long ago that the president rejected the World Health Organization's assessment on the pandemic's fatality rates, telling Fox News, "[T]his is just my hunch." Soon after, Trump told reporters he had "a feeling" untested medications might be effective in combating COVID-19. A week later, the Republican added that he had another "feeling" that state officials were wrong about their need for ventilators in hospitals to treat infected patients.

With a track record like this, the president probably ought to stop relying quite so much on his gut.

What's more, the president's fact-free intuition is at odds with everyone and everything around him. As the Washington Post reported overnight, "Now, with the economy in free-fall less than six months before voters cast their ballots and daily life disrupted, Trump is trying a new tack: making bold new promises about a swift economic rebound that experts and even members of his own party say are unrealistic."

But let's also not lose sight of the specific question the reporter asked the president to answer: "What is your plan to get the country out of this ditch?"

As his response made clear, Trump doesn't have a plan. He has feelings.

The disconnect between the reporter's question and the president's answer served as a reminder that Trump won't be much use in the coming weeks and months when it comes to economic policy, and it'll be up to others to do the work.