Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“There you go again…”

by Gordon Cooper

From Broader View Weekly, June 23, 2011.

After reading Keith’s column, I was reminded of the above quote spoken by Ronald Reagan during the final presidential debate in the election of 1980. Reagan was responding to President Carter’s repeated fallacious attacks upon Reagan’s Medicare proposals. It was seen as a pivotal point in the debate when Reagan showed that Carter was being misleading in his accusations, and it was used again four years later when President Reagan defended himself against Walter Mondale’s equally false charges that Reagan would have to raise taxes the following year. I humbly use it now to reply to my fellow columnist:

Keith, there you go again.

Now normally I would just grin and shake my head when I encounter misstatements and obfuscations in the press or on TV, however, I feel it is my duty to respond to what Keith sees as the “real reasons for slow recovery”.

First of all, Keith claims the economy (and the current longest recession in history) doesn’t really belong to Obama. Keith should get in touch with Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairperson Debbie Wassermann-Schultz and White House Spokesman Jay Carney, because they both claimed ownership of the economy this week.

Jay Carney said: “We all own the economy. We all work together in Washington to devise policies to improve the economic situation.” And “We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery,” – Wasserman-Shulz http://www.commentsonnationalamnesia.com/2011/06/19/democrats-economy-fault/
Second point – if, as Keith claims, the “failed economic policies” of the past decades are to blame for the current malaise, then why haven’t the promised results from Obama’s (successful?) policies brought relief? How many years should we wait for the turnaround?

Apparently, the majority of Americans do not follow Keith’s assessment either. Those polled recently (NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43308329/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/) see the current direction as “on the wrong track” (62%); 54% disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the economy, and over 82% see his policies as “somewhat”, “mainly”, or “solely” responsible for the condition of the economy.

Keith then brought up the reference to Reagan’s presidency as the beginning of the policies which have “feathered the nests of Corporate America at the expense of our children…”. Well, Keith, since you mentioned it, let’s look back at those policies and compare Reagan’s record against Obama’s.

To begin with, Obama inherited a much better economy than did Ronald Reagan. When Carter finished his term, he handed off a 10.8% unemployment rate; inflation was also in double digits as were the interest rates. Poverty was also on the increase – during Carter’s final two years alone, it rose from 11.4 to over 15.2%. Median family income was decreasing and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 70% of its value.

Reagan’s policies initiated an immediate effect upon the economy. In the first 16 months of Reagan’s presidency, unemployment fell from over 10.8% to less than 7.5%, while in the same time frame of Obama’s experimental presidency, unemployment has actually increased. Reagan’s economy created over four million jobs (comparable to six million jobs in our population statistics), and also averaged 7.1% economic growth over the first seven quarters; the Obama recovery has produced less than half that at 2.8%, with the last quarter at a dismal 1.8%.
Need I go on?

Keith continues to blame the Bush tax cuts for the woes of our jobless numbers and budget deficits, and he was right to predict that I would call him out on that, but instead of using the words of Obama (which Keith seems to think were not truly indicative of his real beliefs, hmmm… so does that mean Obama was being disingenuous?) I will use the words of his economic advisor, Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, who wrote in a New York Times editorial, dated September 6, 2010: “…No one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned. Higher taxes now would crimp consumer spending, further depressing the already inadequate demand for what firms are capable of producing at full tilt.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/opinion/07orszag.html)

It is also disingenuous of Keith to blame this mysterious entity called “Corporate America” as the sole source of our nation’s ills, capable of “conspiring against Democrats and working to stifle economic prosperity for political reasons” – as if all these corporations with competing interests for labor, market share and consumer goodwill could or would somehow join together in a smoke-filled chamber somewhere and construct a nefarious plan to cut their own livelihood and profit margins for the sake of putting a Republican in the White House. Yeah, right, it makes perfect sense to me.

A better answer seems to be that “Corporate America” (whoever or whatever that is in Keith’s eyes) is, like the rest of us, waiting and wishing for an economic plan that will work. You know, like the one that worked in 1981.

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