A Black Chunk Of Republican Economics

On Wednesday the Pew Research Center released a report titled, “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier.” I want to highlight just one part of the report:

For the half century following World War II, American families enjoyed rising prosperity in every decade—a streak that ended in the decade from 2000 to 2010, when inflation-adjusted family income fell for the middle income as well as for all other income groups, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. 

You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to connect what happened in the last decade to the policies of the political party in charge when things went south. Here’s a better graph that shows the damage:

That last little black chunk of negative growth is the George W. Bush-Republican Party legacy, the result of a brand of economics that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are at this moment weirdly championing as the solution to our slow recovery from the ravages of that black chunk of negative growth. Go figure that one out.

Here, in case your eyesight isn’t what it used to be:

Say what you want about Bill Clinton (and I have said plenty of negative stuff myself), if you look back at the decade he dominated, a decade in which taxes were raised to pay for the government people wanted, a decade that saw the budget come into balance, and a decade that saw millions upon millions of new jobs created, you have to admit that the following commercial with its simple message is something folks ought to pay attention to:

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  1. My impression is that the average voter doesn’t think too deeply about the issues and has never taken econ 101. Rather, she or he reacts viscerally to their own economic condition as tempered by their past political position. In this light I think the Clinton ad will be fairly effective because people are insecure and looking for answers. The job situation is dire, threatening. Some may be persuaded that something has to change, that Obama has had four years to correct it and has failed, and that Romney represents a chance for change, even if he is an odd duck of a candidate. But that reasoning is flawed: successfully managing the Olympic games with the help of massive government aid does not qualify him to manage the ponderous U.S. government in my opinion.

    There are things I don’t like about the Democrat choice. For example, I can’t avoid the image of the welfare queen in my mind because I know that abuse does happen, but I also know that the reforms of the Clinton era are still in place, right-wing propaganda not withstanding. I don’t really like the thought of stoking the power of teachers’ unions because I know the educational system is dysfunctional, but at the same time I know it isn’t the teachers’ fault, it is a consequence of relatively low pay attracting relatively less-talented people to do a job made almost impossible by decades of indulgent culture. I don’t like massive government layered with inefficient bureaucracy as represented by the DNI and the DHS.

    But I really can’t see the GOP as the solution. Choosing them would first of all put the same mind-set as caused the GR back in charge, including a mindless pullback of regulations that would likely make the GR happen again. Their announced policies would enervate Medicare and virtually scrap federal Medicare, placing the burden of “reform” on the weakest, poorest and most vulnerable, while at the same time lightening the tax load on the most wealthy. As for education, a return to private schooling would likely relegate the system to religious control, something abhorrent to me.

    Throughout Obama’s first term I have observed him governing like the mature adult in the room – it is his nature. He has been an effective Commander in Chief, including getting Osama Bin Laden, a plan in which he was thoroughly involved and for which he took great political risk. He has been the President of all the people and has refrained from overreacting to many unfair political attacks. And he and Michelle have been an excellent family model, especially for the black community which has very much needed it.

    Here’s the way it looks to me. The GOP increasingly represents a return to religion-based reasoning, secrecy, superstition, austerity economics, intolerance for diversity, a leaky social safety net, a desire for America to be the world’s policeman, and paranoia toward cultural differences. The Democrats represent benevolent open governance, common-sense, respect for science, indulgence toward social programs, an embrace of diversity, a proclivity for overspending, and a social safety net for all Americans.

    But of all the differences I have to say that economics is most important, and the chart Duane presents above is damning of the Bush decade. I don’t want to go back and repeat the errors that got us into that. The choice is clear to me – Obama not only deserves another term but he deserves a Congress that will actually work with him.


  2. Jane Reaction

     /  August 23, 2012

    Excellent writing gentlemen.

    The charts speak volumes. Other illustrations of a similar slope of ruinous decline would include foreign investment in this country, percentage of global manufactures, and new jobs created.


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