Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Some facts, as we pass the Labor Day campaign marker.

“The president . . . took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.”

--Mitt Romney

The parties both profess to help the middle class, but differ over whether to enlarge the pie or recut it. They differ over whether to grow the government at the expense of the private sector, or cut government to help growth. And the voters. Are they hostile to business, or do they appreciate where jobs come from?

 What are the facts?

  •  Fate of the Middle Class 

It’s ironic Democrats talk so much about the “middle class.” And this chatter isn’t new. Mike Dorning, at, notes that
in 2008, Obama blamed [middle class] reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households -- those headed by someone younger than 65 -- had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during [Bush’s] first seven years.
Democrats emphasized middle class decline 4 years ago, as today they emphasize uplifting the middle class. So what are the facts? Well, as San Francisco Chronicle house conservative Debra Saunders points out:
During the three years since [Obama’s] economy began to expand in June 2009, median household income in America fell 4.8%. . . median household income had fallen from $54,916 in December 2007 to $53,508 in June 2009. . . Under the Obama recovery, that figure dropped to $50,964 by June 2012.
And, as a Wall Street Journal editorial added,
Obama consistently labels the American families’ financial decline during his time as part of a decades-long trend.  Yet the facts are that real income for middle income households from 1983 to 2005 didn’t decline at all; it rose by roughly 30%.
Middle class income down $2000 in Bush’s first 7 years, and down over $3500 in just 3 Obama years. Real income growing 30% from 1983 through 2005, but falling since Democrats captured Congress in 2006. These are facts.

  •  Pie cutting, not growth 

Government doesn’t create jobs. Business does. Economic growth comes from the free market. Government is a kleptocracy; it sucks at the tit of the private sector. You want to raise government revenue? Enlarge the pie instead. Don’t cut the share going to job creation.

Amazingly we still don’t grasp that which conservative Louis Woodhill writes in Forbes, “If famed football coach Vince Lombardi had been an economist, he would have said, ‘Economic growth isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing.’”

According to Woodhill:
America’s 2011 GDP was the result of an average real economic growth rate of 3.73% over the 221 years from 1790 to 2011.  If, during this period, our economy had grown at 1.47% real, which is what we have averaged for the first 3.5 years of Obama’s presidency, our 2011 GDP would have been about $116 billion, which is about the same as that of Bangladesh.
Woodhall concludes, “The only thing that can truly benefit the middle class is more private sector jobs at higher wages.”

  •  Pie for the big government beast 

How can we afford Obamacare, a gigantic, new entitlement program? John McCormack writes in the conservative Weekly Standard:
during the first decade when it’s in full effect (2014 to 2023), Obamacare will cost about $2 trillion. That’s a lot of money. A decade of Obamacare will cost five times more than [Bush’s] Medicare prescription-drug benefit or two-and-a-half times the financial cost of the Iraq war. . . And the $2 trillion estimate is likely much too low. Because of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal government can’t deny states all Medicaid funds if they refuse to expand Medicaid, “up to 17 million people will go on Obama-care instead of Medicaid,” says House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan. “We haven’t begun to quantify the cost-explosion that’s going to happen.”
How do we possibly pay for Obama’s spending, or “investment,” as he calls it? Currently, we borrow over 40 cents of every dollar we spend.

As Michael Tanner of the conservative Cato Institute tells us, Obama will raise taxes, even if it threatens economic growth:
In January 2013, the Bush tax cuts will expire, leading to the largest tax hike in U.S. history unless Congress can reach an agreement. If reelected, President Obama seems determined to use this potential "fiscal cliff" to push for higher taxes on the wealthy, businesses, and investors. The president's insistence, in particular, on raising capital-gains taxes will discourage business investment and expansion, while the hike in federal income taxes will fall especially hard on small businesses and Subchapter S corporations, which often file taxes as individuals.
At root, Obama’s inability to expand the economy relates to his love of big government and lack of  business experience (see Romney quote, above). The president in his own words:
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government—oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in. And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments.
The response from Commentary’s Peter Wehner:
What the president is arguing, then, isn’t simply that the private sector is doing fine; he’s also making the case that the federal government right now is not spending enough, that it’s too frugal, that our trillion-dollar-a-year-deficit is evidence of parsimony, and that creating post-World War II records in federal spending as a percentage of GDP, the federal debt as a percentage of GDP, and the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP hasn’t quite satisfied his spending ambitions. By his own logic, President Obama believes the path to prosperity is for the federal government to spend more, and more, and more – and that the GOP, if it was a responsible political party, would help him do just that.
But it won’t work to spend our way to prosperity. We know. It hasn’t worked in Mediterranean Europe. And it hasn’t worked in the U.S., though it's been tried since 2009.

  •  Democrats will win anyway 

Facts are, as John Adams said, stubborn things. Yet Democrats ignore the facts presented here; the party depends on feeding the big government beast, not cutting it off. And they may have the votes to prevail--as we have repeatedly noted--if they successfully unite their big government coalition.

One who thinks Democrats will win is liberal Ronald Brownstein, writing in the National Journal:
[In polls,] Obama [is] running near the 52% he won among those upscale white women in 2008, and also remaining very close to his 80% showing among all minorities. If Obama can hold that level of support from those two groups, Romney could amass a national majority only by winning nearly two-thirds of all other whites—the men with college degrees, and the men and women without them. To put that challenge in perspective, Reagan, while winning his historic landslide, carried a combined 66.5% of those three groups. To defeat Obama, in other words, Romney may need to equal Reagan.
It’s possible that for Romney to prevail, people will have to see the downside of Obama’s hostility to business. As conservative Robert Tracinski says,
his is not just a negative campaign against Romney. It is a negative campaign against capitalism and against success. And it's not just that the Obama campaign overreaching with their negative attacks on Romney. They are also overreaching with their negative attacks on success.
Or listen to Clive Crook, in the liberal Atlantic. Crook pointedly asks, “is Obama quite sure voters prefer a future of high public spending and high taxes to one of low public spending and low taxes?”

Two months to go.

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