House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer walked into a weekly briefing with reporters Tuesday armed with a list of positive economic data points — and a slideshow to prove it — with the poise of a professor, excited to share some positive news.
But with much of the Capitol Hill’s press corps chasing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s visits with House and Senate Republicans, the Maryland lawmaker had a comparatively sparse audience.
Instead, the House’s No. 2 Democrat was left to press his case about economic growth to the dozen or so who showed up, jabbing a number of them at one point when their noses had pointed down toward their phones as he made his way through a nearly 20-minute lecture about the American economy under Democratic presidents.
“Paul Ryan says he has a better way? This is a better way,” he said, alluding to the Wisconsin Republican conference’s legislative agenda. “Everyone does better under Democrats.”
Hoyer laid out his case that under the six Democratic presidents since the 1950s, the country’s gross domestic product had grown more, the stock market rose more, wages went higher and more jobs were created than under the six Republican presidents over the same time period.
He also pointed to the positive economic news on Tuesday that household incomes had grown 5.2 percent in 2015, the largest hike since the 1960s. It happened, he added, under President Obama, a Democrat.
Hoyer said he wanted the American people to make an “objective” decision, rather than a “subjective” one based on how they feel when they are voting for president.
He said he was frustrated with the media’s coverage of the presidential race between Hillary Clinton, the Democrat who has provided a detailed policy agenda, and Donald Trump, the Republican nominee who rarely delves into specifics.
“You can have your fiscal advisers,” he said, before interrupting himself on a point about checking his numbers. “Assuming you write about this, you may or may not, because it does not appear to be some sort of scandal or some sort of health issue.”
“I would hope that we would convey this to the American people,” he added. “I’m certainly going to do this myself.”
Hoyer finished his slideshow and proceeded to his chat with reporters for another 15 minutes or so. Much of it focused on the presidential race, though it veered briefly into his critique of a Republican proposal to pass a series of smaller spending packages known as “mini-buses” alongside a short-term plan to fund the government through December.
As they got up to leave, he joked he would call reporters later in the evening to quiz them on his presentation: “I’ve got all your numbers because the Russians gave them to us.”