Thursday, July 7, 2011

168. No one gets credit for this

When I think about a financial recovery, the things that excite me is the millions of previously hard-working people who would go back to work. I would be excited for their families, and what an economic relief it would be for them. Families could again have the essentials-maybe even a few luxuries or take a vacation. Children could afford to go to college; even retirement would be a possibility. I also think about the communities-working people means more tax revenue, and more tax revenue means better streets, schools and increased safety.

Perhaps way down the list in my excitement, if at all, would be the realization that a financial recovery would mean that President Obama might get reelected.

Don't get me wrong, at this point, and considering the current list of Republican nominees, I am hoping President Obama is reelected next year-but I would never sacrifice a financial recovery, if there was one to be had, to ensure it. Whatever happened to "team players" and "I don't care who gets the credit"? The current bunch of political leaders, on both sides, are so worried that an opposing idea might succeed that every idea is met with discontent, spin and stalling.

An article recently caught my attention which makes my point. The headline read, "Get Ready for a July Rally," written by Jim Jabak of MSN Money. In the article Jabak looks at the trend of July stocks and projects a July increase, which initially offered some hope. But then Jabak looked ahead and wrote in projection of next year's global economy,

"I expect this to be a wild year as politicians from Washington to Moscow to Beijing vie to buy popular approval (if not actual votes). We've got a presidential election in Russia -- think Vladimir Putin won't do everything he can to make sure that voters are happy? We've got a leadership transition in China -- think Xi Jinping and the other new leaders jockeying for power as Wen steps down won't do everything they can to make sure that China's economy doesn't falter?"

Then Jabak tackles the United States,

"And we've got a presidential election in the United States. This is a huge wild card. Yes, the incumbent will do everything he can to make sure unemployment falls and growth speeds up, although it's not exactly clear what President Barack Obama will be able to do with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives. Republicans have a vested interest in seeing the economy continue to struggle. At the least, they'll be tempted to block anything that might give the president an economic success to talk about in his campaign."

Michele Bachmann, who is somehow emerging as a serious presidential candidate, said as much when she said that she hoped that higher unemployment would improve her chances of winning the presidential election. Do you think Bachmann is going to do anything now that would hurt her chances of winning? What she should have said is, "I hope the high rate of unemployment decreases as soon as possible, too many people have suffered for a long time, but if not, then I hope my ideas can help if I am elected."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially said the same thing, "I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy." What McConnell really said, ignoring of course that President Obama inherited a failing economy, is that a bad economy is good for Republicans-people, and their families, can wait.

It interesting that Republicans, who often do a better job of spinning political issues, is on the wrong side on the debt ceiling issue. Their staunch defense of tax reductions for the top one percent, which is jeopardizing the United State credit rating, government payments and social programs is nearly indefensible-and showing the true colors of many in their party.

Republicans and the Tea Party have tried making this an ideological argument about not raising taxes and job creation-but the public is finally seeing through this, especially when the taxes being argued about are only those in the top one percent. Republican defense of the top one percent, those making almost two million per year, is clearly about political support, fundraising and the taxes they pay, not about improving the American economy and not about the middle and lower classes. Government has gotten smaller, hundreds of thousands of the public jobs have been lost, yet the private sector has been slow to add them-waiting perhaps until after the election.

Jabak anticipates that any recovery will be fragile, "What really worries me is that governments and central banks, having spent much of their ammunition on the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 - and not having produced the economic growth necessary to reload their weapons-will have less, much less, to throw at any crisis that emerges in 2013."

I think Jabak is right on point here. The stimulus package did more to save jobs than create them. The unemployment rate over the last couple of years would have been a lot worse had the stimulus package not been passed. However, even as companies recovered, even prospered, as many have, they have refused to hire new employees-or even bring back some of those laid-off. They've realized that fewer employees, plus increased sales, equals more profit for them and shareholders.

The economic future of the country continues to be of real concern, and I for one do not care whose plan works in initiating its recovery. If a Republican can lead us to prosperity, I would gladly support him or her (last year I voted for Republican Tom Williams for county commissioner). What I do think is that it is time for the wealthiest Americans and corporations start pulling their weight and start giving back to the country that has given them so much. So far, Republicans have not embraced that ideology.

A shared sacrifice, regardless of who get the credit . . . what a noble concept.

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