Although presidents have only so much juice where the economy is concerned, their approval ratings rise and fall opposite the cost of gasoline, rent, milk, and money.
I it is useless to defend President Biden against claims that he’s a Socialist out to destroy America by wrecking the economy. I know its futile, because it’s harder to change minds than it is to change the oil filter in a 1968 E-Type Jaguar, but that claim is just silly on its face—as silly as the claims by the 147 Electoral College objectors in Congress who say Trump won and that Biden is an illegitimate president. For the record, Democrats are neither Socialists, nor are they out to destroy America. That’s exactly the inflammatory rhetoric that inspires the kind of violent attacks we saw at the Capitol on January 6th and last week in the home of Paul and Nancy Pelosi.
I must digress for a moment. I’m a stickler for accuracy in language. I come by it honestly. My mother was an English teacher. Spelling, grammar, and meaning were her stock and trade. Speak and write with clarity, employ proper English, and you were fine. Drop a few ain’ts, or dangle a participle, and the Grammar Police would pull you over.
It is from this perspective that I ask everyone to please stop using “Socialism” as a pejorative against Biden and the Dems. Socialism, by definition, is an economic condition where government controls the means of production. The government doesn’t control Timken Roller Bearings, Hallmark, Ford, or any other business, so, not Socialism. And while I’m at it, and I totally get that it’s campaign silly season, so of course the parties are accusing each other of trying to destroy America, but only one is actively trying to undermine our electoral process by being sore losers making it harder to vote and keeping a thumb on the scales by controlling the counting process. And could you also stop trying to hang the “Marxist” collar on them? Marxism is the basis for Communism, and no one this side of Chinese leader-for-life Xi wants a return to that world. We’ve already seen that movie, and it’s not for the whole family.
The rhetoric is super-heated, and since words are all that stand between us and armed conflict, we need to cool it.
There’s also a lot of chatter about ballooning deficits. We hear this every time a Democrat occupies the White House, so for the umpteenth time, here, from Politifact, are, for anyone who cares about them, the actual numbers:
“Reagan took the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion.
Bush 41 took it to $300 billion.
Clinton got it to zero.
Bush 43 took it from zero to $1.2 trillion.
Obama halved it to $600 billion.
Trump got it back to a trillion.”
Mark Twain reminds us that figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.
The current numbers are perplexing. Our GDP grew in the last quarter. Since January 2021, we’ve added 10 million jobs, and our 3.5% unemployment is a 50-year low. The new infrastructure bill has allowed us to invest in our roads, bridges, seaports, and airports for the first time in too many decades. Through all the turmoil, we’ve managed to add 700,000 manufacturing jobs. These good numbers are macro in nature, and cold comfort on a micro level where renters, would-be home buyers, drivers, and grocery shoppers are left out in the cold; literally, for those who won’t be able to afford home heating this winter.
Democratic financial policies are sound and it is empty political rhetoric to insist, as Republicans have for the last forty years, that Dems are paving the highway to hell with hundred dollar bills. The same Republican argument prevails today: It says social welfare spending increases the national debt, but the Biden packages have not ballooned the deficit which has fallen by $1.4T. That’s the steepest decline ever.
The Republican argument falls apart when we look at the rest of the world. Joe Biden’s economic policies have not sunk the British or European economies. Covid-related supply chain interruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, creating a refugee crisis and interrupting energy supplies, have done that all by themselves. If it’s villains you want, look no farther than the pandemic and Vladimir Putin. Interest rates are climbing fast as central banks everywhere are raising rates, hoping to check inflation. It’s a reminder that our economy may be growing, but Americans, Brits, and Europeans are hurting, and will be for a while.
We’re in a painful period, but it isn’t Socialism, Marxism, profligate spending, or planetary alignment. The causes of our economic pain are global in nature, but here at home, it’s always the fault of the party in power.
©2022 Jon Sinton
VOL. 112, NO. 44 - Nov. 2, 2022