So-called 'bad' economy vindicated by raw numbers

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No matter what fad third party du jour raises its flag calling for the disillusioned protest votes of the masses, when this year’s midterm elections are boiled down to basics, it is still a two-horse race. Admittedly, the two horses are both slightly beaten up and wounded. Yet there are still considerable differences between the rotting equine carcass of the formerly proud Democratic Party of Kennedy, and the limping, but still functioning, trotter of the “Contract with America” Republican Party.

The most breathtaking part of voter disillusionment with Republicans is this disjointed logic proclaimed by many who plan on sitting this election out — or even worse — voting for the Democrats this November. Much of this logic hovers around the liberal media’s establishment and maintenance of the continual myth of a “bad economy.” It’s a myth so powerful, it manages to propagate itself regardless of what the actual numbers indicate. So pervasive is the “bad economy” myth that record low unemployment averages, real wage gains, historically below-average deficits and a booming private sector (as indicated by Dow Jones record highs), are swept under the liberal lie of growing misery and poverty.

Republicans do deserve some of the blame for the pestilent existence of this myth. GOP shame and blame emanates from a striking failure to take credit for sizable economic gains and create political capital from them. Obviously the liberal press will never aid an incumbent Republican party in achieving said credit, but that alone does not serve as an excuse for failing to bring the message to the grassroots. If there was a real understanding of the true strength of this current economy, these midterm elections could not possibly track as close as they have been.

Numbers are benevolent do-gooders, as numbers cannot lie. The current unemployment rate is 4.6 percent, as per the September 2006 numbers. This puts the unemployment rate for the current decade at 5.1 percent. Remember the glory days of the ’90s under Clinton, where the economy was booming and the good times would never end? The unemployment average for the ’90s was 5.75 percent, more than half a percentage point higher than the current decade’s average. In fact, the current decade’s average unemployment rate is lower than the averages of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

“Well,” the opposition slyly remarks, “that’s fine about the job numbers, but let’s talk deficits.” Okay, let’s. No true conservative will argue that Bush and the current Republican Congress have been good on spending (from a traditional conservative viewpoint). That said, the liberal lens of the political press pool has distortedly reported the budget deficits. The opposition would have one believe that the current budget deficits are a Bush-related phenomenon. However, this is again another complex distortion in the bad economy myth.

Since 1960, the United States of America has run a budget deficit in 41 of 47 years; that is 87 percent of the time. Furthermore, the average percentage of gross domestic product that the budget deficit makes up has been lower since 2000 than it was during the 1980s and ’90s. Since 2000, the budget deficits have made up an average of 1.07 percent of the GDP.
Contrast that number to the greatly proclaimed booms of the 1980s and ’90s, decades where the budget deficit made up 3.93 and 2.16 percent of the GDP, respectively. The proclamation of crisis-level deficits under Bush, as another symptom of a reportedly bad economy, is an added, overt distortion in the continued sustenance of the bad economy myth.

And what about the youth vote? How is it possible that students can sit in their political science classes and hear their college-level classmates complaining about the myth of the bad economy? While the national jobless rate hovers at a very low 4.6 percent, the unemployment rate for college graduates puts that relatively low number to shame.

The unemployment rate among college graduates is at 1.8 percent, the lowest in five years and the foremost indication of the continuing market demand for a college education in the workforce. Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State, points out that “half of the new jobs filled this year by people over age 25 were filled by people with a college degree, even though folks with a college degree make up only one third of the workforce.”

It is crunch time for these 2006 midterm elections. Republicans can and will pick up votes by running on the issues, not by indulging themselves in Democrat-style October surprises. Mystifyingly absent from the campaigns to date is any mention of the currently booming economy. If the Republicans cannot find a way to shine light on the myth of the bad economy, they may find themselves waking up on November 8 and seeing a Speaker Pelosi nameplate. Let us hope this is not the case, as I, for one, like the current drapes on Capitol Hill.