Though the Republicans would like to put a pejorative spin on Democratic themes past and present, there are indicators that such themes are tangible for this election year
Past and present Democratic themes that Republicans will be attempting to undermine during this election year.
In the upcoming U.S. elections it will be moderates and rational Independents who will swing this vote one way or the other. The hyperbole, vitriol and down right mischaracterizations of the facts will hopefully be weighed by these voters and rejected, basing their votes instead on the tangible realities. We can only hope that reality based information is broadcasted objectively by the mainstream media and not tweaked to preserve any corporate ownership’s views. Most likely what we’ll see is a glazing over of significant realties that would present an accurate view of current economic policies rather than a total omission of those realties.
So far the MSM has failed to pay due diligence to two pieces of information that have recently surfaced and would most likely engender moderates and Independents toward the Obama camp, for the time being at least.
The first is the recently released news that there are now more private-sector jobs in the United States than there were in January 2009, immediately following Obama’s inauguration. After all the rancor and criticism we have heard from the Republicans about Obama’s “socialism” policies, it appears that all of the jobs and then some in the private sector that were lost in the first year of President Barack Obama’s term have been recouped as indicated on the graph below from recent figures issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
It could be, and probably will be argued by some on the right that despite this obvious improvement that 1) it would have been a lot better had the “socialist” policies of Obama not restricted the free-markets and 2) these numbers are a far cry from the total job losses that began way before Obama took office.
The first premise is a subjective one that simply isn’t born out by the facts. Though there has been a weak attempt by this administration to implement financial reform in the form of the the Dodd-Frank Act to prevent the kind of back room deals that set the Great Recession in motion back in late 2007 and early 2008, most Wall Street observers say it has had very little effect and continuously runs into obstacles by legislative efforts paid for by corporate lobbyists and supported in both the House and Senate by sympathetic legislators. This has been the most unregulated market in nearly thirty years.
The second argument is more accurate but those on the right will attempt to obscure the fact that most of this job loss occurred on the neo-conservative watch when Bush was still in the White House and the U.S. Senate had a Republican majority
Many conservatives would cry foul at Democrats for citing that the economic crash originated and gained steam under Bush. They claim that this is merely a ruse to dismiss what they see as a failure of the Obama administration to fulfill a campaign promise he made to prevent unemployment from rising above 8%. A promise to be sure that failed to see the depth of this crisis and one that required a lot more federal stimulus funding than the conservatives within the Democratic Party were willing to provide. However this maneuver is purely political and was used by their own Party under George W. Bush, blaming Clinton for their economic woes.
Effective efforts by astro-turf Tea Party groups following Obama’s inauguration had begun to shift the onus of the recession from government bailouts of banks too big to fail under George Bush and redirected it to the bailouts of the auto industry and the stimulus money under Obama. Pro-corporate talking heads associated the auto bailouts with Big Labor and the argument that stimulus money would raise everyone’s taxes managed to influence a panicked and poorly informed public to attack Obama and the Democrats rather than the Republican policies that led to this financial disaster.
The Republican Party would have us believe that Obama’s policies failed to halt the rapid job losses created in this recession (see graph below) and turn the economy around more quickly. More could have been done it’s true but not with what the Party of NO is suggesting. Save for the argument that a greater concentration of stimulus money would have proven more successful, there is little else that could have been done to prevent this train wreck from happening or getting it back on track in any real time fashion to avoid the unemployment figures we see today.
When the GOP talks about a plan for recovery, a close look will see that they offer nothing more than the same status quo policies that put us where we’re at in the first place. To dress this pig up as something new by reiterating the need to cut taxes for the wealthiest 2% more than they did under Bush and kill federal funding for public sector jobs is Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Pubic sector job loss is a primary factor in why this recovery has been slower to develop. The graph at the top of the page shows that as the private sector jobs have increased under Obama, public sector losses are taking away the gain made here. But is this Obama’s fault as some on the right would claim? The graph below shows that the public sector grew under George Bush and the Republican controlled Congress.
I think it is safe to say that because the overall sluggish job growth under Bush for 8 years was worse than it currently is under Obama, had it not been for the growth in the government sector under Bush, there likely would have been no growth at all, probably even greater unemployment records.
So when corporate sponsored astro-turf organizations convinced voters to put Tea Party types in office, promising to slash government spending without raising taxes to address our deficit issue, the decrease in public sector jobs began following the 2010 elections and continues to this day as a result of such “austerity” programs promoted by the GOP and some conservatives within the Democratic Party. Austerity was the GOP’s answer to fixing the economy provided we made only cuts in federal spending that didn’t hurt wealthy corporations.
Austerity during a serious recession is economically insane. It is a pro-cyclical policy that makes the recession more severe. A more severe recession is a mass destroyer of wealth and quality of life. It is pure waste. It is the primary cause of dramatic increases in public deficits and debt. – Bill Black
Which leads us to the second piece of information that should enable the Obama campaign this fall. Austerity measures in Europe have failed miserably even after nearly three years being implemented. Conservatives would argue these measures haven’t been in place long enough nor has there been enough cuts, but the same rational has been made by those who support the stimulus spending and health care reform under Obama, only to be rejected by conservatives here. One could argue that austerity measures were primarily meant to create confidence in the private sector but clearly that outcome isn’t materializing.
In the most recent news from Europe, two weeks ago we found that after reviewing the austerity programs of the world’s 3rd largest economy under the conservative British government of Prime Minister David Campbell, we find it has created worse conditions than existed before he took office.
- GDP continues to drop. The economy has only grown by 0.4 percent since the government came to power
- the biggest fall in construction output in three years
- Britain’s service sector which makes up more than three quarters of GDP continues to make no substantial ground
- Industrial output and construction have shrunk to levels not seen since Q1 2009 SOURCE
And now yesterday we see that the French people have rejected the austerity programs of their conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy and replaced him with Socialist François Hollande. A clear sign that moderates and independents in that country at least are beginning to see that the silver bullet promised to them by opponents of government stimulus is perhaps just another ploy by the corporate wealth in their country as in ours to control factors that have created the greatest income disparity since the Gilded Age period of the late 19th century.
I would caution everyone not to read into these real life occurrences about how one ideology alone is the answer to our economic woes. Scott Erb does a great job expanding on this view over at his World in Motion blog. The belief that only socialistic policies will prove effective has been shown to be an abject failure in countries like Russia, North Korea and Cuba. China too was suffering under such delusions until they at least implemented free market policies aimed at improving economic conditions there. Human rights sadly have not kept pace there with economic gains.
But as we are seeing in Europe, unregulated laissez-faire free markets alone are also not able to generate the type of recovery necessary to offset the deep job losses we experienced four plus years ago. What has proven to be successful when properly managed and kept free from corruption is a an economic system that utilizes the benefits of both a free market that serves their self-interests by truly serving the social needs of consumers and a government oversight that keeps good men honest and evil men at bay while propping up the entire system when its under duress from forces not adequately anticipated.
The belief that there is a single system out there that works best for everyone is a myth that both sides perpetrate, especially those Ayn Rand free-marketers. But there is more truth to the promise that when the private and public sectors work toward economic improvement for all, poverty levels will be lower and less severe and greater wealth can be had by all as opposed to what we are experiencing now. This economic cooperation must recognize too that current consumption rates of natural resources cannot continue at the pace we are now geared to. Unless we start focusing on recycling our waste and finding renewable, infinite sources of energy, we will all suffer the consequences of an unforgiving planet that has only so much it can give up.