Favorite

GOP sees only the bad in job, economic growth 

Good news was once a valued commodity, even in an election year — especially in an election year. But now the sky has to be falling every day. Barack Obama needs to be seen leading the country to ruin (elections in the South and Midwest depend upon it) so every news cycle somehow lends credence.

Take plunging oil and gasoline prices.

High pump prices before the 2012 election were cause for gloom and glee — glee on the part of Republicans because it would cinch Obama's defeat. Gas prices tailed off by Election Day, although at an average of $3.46 a gallon they were the highest on record for an election day. Obama won anyway.

When gas prices spiked this spring, Republican pundits and politicians blamed Obama and his energy policies, especially offshore drilling bans and his refusal to sanction the pipeline to pump Canadian crude to Gulf of Mexico ports. Arkansas Republican congressmen said Obama was responsible for high gasoline prices because he would not expand drilling on federal lands or federally protected waters.

Now that the oil glut has sent prices below $3 a gallon in a spiral that is likely to continue, you might think that someone, perhaps a random Democrat, would give the president some credit, even if he's no more deserving than he was of blame when prices rose.

But while the news mentions that gas savings are pumping billions into the rest of the consumer economy every month, it also has carried specters of gloom. See, it's bad for the petroleum business, it reduces incentives for the development of renewable energy, and it destabilizes a Middle East dependent upon oil income, which increases perils for the United States. Gadzooks, it also steepens the economic decline in oil-exporting Russia, where Obama's sanctions already have driven inflation to 8 percent, sank the ruble to a 15-year low against the dollar and caused investors to yank $100 billion from Russian ventures. Now the oil depression may provoke Vladimir Putin into new mischief in Eastern Europe. What will Obama do to us next?

A bit overstated perhaps, but the good-news/bad-news ratio has seldom seemed better before a national election or politics and the voters more indifferent to it. There is no stomach for good news, although realistically no surfeit of good news would reduce Obama's unpopularity in the South.

A typical Arkansas ad this fall is a Republican billboard in remote Sharp County that blames the local Democrat running for a state legislative seat for the Barack Obama agenda of economic ruin. (For the record, the Obama agenda has manifested itself in Arkansas in two ways: (1) The big stimulus program of 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, improved highways and bridges in every community of the state, put thousands to work and saved the state budget by pumping $825 million into public health accounts, which allowed the state to save its own taxes and run surpluses for three years while other states were slashing budgets and running double-digit unemployment rates. The other impact was Obamacare, which has extended health insurance to 250,000 Arkansans for the first time, sharply reduced emergency-room and hospital admissions, saved $125 million in drug costs for Arkansas seniors, and put $17.7 million in the pockets of Arkansas consumers whose health insurers had spent more than 15 percent of their premiums on profits and advertising than Obamacare allows.)

Is it the economy, stupid? Consider the pre-election economic trends. Another good job surge in September meant that more net jobs have been created under Obama in six and a half years than in the combined 12 years of the Bush presidents (5.1 million to 3.9 million) and more than Japan, Europe and the world's other advanced economies combined. Those nations, which followed the Republican strategy of cutting public services to fight recession, are slipping into recession again.

Unemployment, 10 percent when Bush left, is now 5.9 percent. The Dow Jones closed under 8,000 on Bush's last day on its freefall to 6,479 six weeks later, but it now ranges between 16,000 and 17,000. The S&P index has nearly tripled since then. Rich Americans, bleeding from Obama's "class warfare," have never enjoyed so much prosperity in spite of the president's attempts to push more of the national wealth downward through the minimum wage, higher taxes on investors and subsidized health insurance for the poor and the middle class.

Health care spending has been the driver of forecasts of fiscal doom, but no one takes notice that health care inflation has leveled off since 2009. Medicare was on its way to bankrupting the country, according to the forecasts every year, but after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took effect in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare trustees each year have reduced their projections of future spending. Owing to reforms in Obamacare and the Budget Control Act of 2011, the CBO's forecast this summer of Medicare spending in 2019 was reduced by another $95 billion.

Remember those warnings — actually they're still issuing them in Arkansas political races — that Obamacare would cost millions of jobs, send the country into recession and send budget deficits soaring?

In fact, job growth picked up smartly when the big features of the law went into effect 10 months ago. And the federal deficit fell to $483 billion in the fiscal year that just ended, less than a third of its $1.5 trillion peak in George W. Bush's last budget year.

Good news? Who needs it?

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Barack Obama, Obamacare

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Coal is over

    The free market's natural search for cheaper and more efficient energy has taken over and even President Trump and a governing party heavily in denial about climate change cannot stop it.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Race to kill

    You wonder if Attorney General Leslie Rutledge would be so eager to execute if her grandpa, Leslie Rutledge, who was imprisoned for killing neighbor Joe Beel and mortally wounding his brother Frank, had been sentenced to death in 1952.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Guns, God and gays

    Many more mass shootings like the one last week in Roseburg, Ore., will stain the future and no law will pass that might reduce the carnage. That is not a prediction but a fact of life that is immune even to Hillary Clinton.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.
  • O'Reilly's fall

    Whom the gods would destroy, they first make TV stars.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Workers stiffed

    How is it going with the great experiment to make the Republican Party the champion of the sons and daughters of toil instead of the oligarchs of wealth and business?
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • Coal is over

    The free market's natural search for cheaper and more efficient energy has taken over and even President Trump and a governing party heavily in denial about climate change cannot stop it.
    • Apr 13, 2017
  • Race to kill

    You wonder if Attorney General Leslie Rutledge would be so eager to execute if her grandpa, Leslie Rutledge, who was imprisoned for killing neighbor Joe Beel and mortally wounding his brother Frank, had been sentenced to death in 1952.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Fishing the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: O'Reilly's fall

    • O'Reilly should run for president. He's already cleared one major hurdle by proving he's a…

    • on April 27, 2017
  • Re: Intracity tourism

    • I love being a tourist in my own backyard. One of the advantages of being…

    • on April 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation