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It's the economy, stupid, and it's good!
By Alan Caruba
Lacking any real issues to run on, the Democrat Party and its candidate have been telling anyone who will listen that the United States is staring a new Depression in the eye. They cite the rising per barrel cost of oil, rising health care costs, and the "failure" of the Bush administration to create jobs, despite the fact that the government doesn't create jobs; private industry and businesses, large and small, do that.
If you believed the Democrats, you would have to conclude the economy is a mess, but it is not. By June of this year, all the economic indicators pointed to a very healthy economy and one that was growing. Writing that month, Mortimer B. Zuckerman, editor-in-chief, of U.S. News and World Report, was almost euphoric. "New jobs are being generated in large numbers, income is growing at twice the rate of last year, and the acceleration is such that we will probably see 5 percent growth in the gross domestic product." The numbers by June included the fact that 61 percent of private industries surveyed had added workers, "the highest in four years."
Add to that the fact that companies "are laying out more and more money on capital equipment to meet orders growing at double-digit rates." Zuckerman noted that "corporate profits have surged over 25 percent this year, on top of last year, when they exceeded $1 trillion for the first time ever", adding that "sales have improved in 58 of the 60 scoreboard industries, with the first back-to-back quarters of double-digit revenue growth in three years."
Americans by June were enjoying household wealth that "passed the $45 trillion mark, a new peak, surpassing the previous high of early 2000."
No doubt much will be made of the working poor in America, pitting them against "the rich", but Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, recently reported that "Overall, the typical American defined (by the Census Bureau) as poor has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He can obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and not overcrowded. By his own report, his family isn't hungry, and he had enough money in the last year (2003) to meet his family's essential needs." What is considered "poor" in America is considered opulent by most of the world.
In his book, Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality, by Olaf Gersemann, a German reporter who came to America to check the facts of the American economic model, "Over the last 25 years the US economy has enjoyed an average real growth of 2.9 percent. That's 55 percent more than the Germany economy mustered, 48 percent more than in France, and 39 percent more than in the European Union as a whole."
Much has been made of unemployment levels, but Gerseman points out that, "At the height of the past economic boom, in April 2000, the US unemployment rate sank to a record low of 3.8 percent." Noting that, "During the last recession, unemployment rose again. In the summer of 2003 it reached over 6 percent. That was the highest level for the United States since 1994. For Germany, Italy, and France, that level would have been the lowest since 1991, 1980, and in 1979, respectively.
The recession, which began in March 2001 ended eight months later in November, making it the mildest as well as the shortest in the last 30 years.
The 2003 edition of the Economic Freedom of the World Report ranked the United States third behind the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore, noted Gerseman, who put things in perspective when it comes to labor market regulations. He cited the fact that Germany ranked 80th among the 80 countries examined. Italy came in 76th and France was 4lst. "Cowboy capitalism" works. The Socialism that controls the economies of Europe does not.
Prior to September 11, 2001, President Bush, in office just nine months, was concentrating on getting the economy moving. On September 12th, his focus shifted to the task of protecting America from its enemies in the Islamic Jihad. Even with that burden and the nearly one trillion dollars the attack sucked out of the economy, by this year, the US was on track to enjoy a healthy, growing economy. Probably no other nation on earth could have survived such a devastating attack.
As Washington Times columnist, Donald Lambro, pointed out on Oct 24, "This is an economy fully in recovery…This economy added a net 1.8 million jobs in the last 12 months. Its low 5.4 percent unemployment rate is significantly lower than the 5.8 percent average of the 1990s. The annualized quarterly economic growth rates of the past year are much stronger than the 3.3 percent average growth rates of the 1970s, 80s or 90s."
Senator John F. Kerry keeps saying "I have a plan", but even a kindergartner could look at his economic plan and know that it would require dramatically raising taxes on everyone and everything to accommodate the socialist planning that would put the government in charge of the health system and impose other measures that would reverse all the gains made since 2001.
The President may not be the most articulate debater, but he has demonstrated that he has been an effective leader in a time of war. It is a war aimed in part at our economy and it has failed. It has failed because it was reversed by military action and not treated as a matter for the courts or the United Nations. It was not seen as "a nuisance" to be tolerated.
The current deficits are in part due to fighting that war and, as we continue to win it, those deficits will be replaced by an even healthier growth rate and America's "cowboy capitalism" will continue to demonstrate why we need to stick with the "cowboy" in the White House.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004
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