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Will the Economy Save Bush (June Edition Supplement)

I gave my basic views on this question a few days ago. But I couldn't resist calling attention to this well-researched front-page article, "Economy Provides No Boost to Bush", in The Washington Post. Here's an excerpt from the article, starting with some salient data that I really wish the media would keep in mind when they write about this issue:

Bush is not the first president to suffer from a disconnect between objective economic indicators and voter perceptions on the economy. The economy began growing steadily in March 1991, when President George H.W. Bush registered a 49 percent approval rating on his handling of the economy. But by July of 1992, those approval ratings had slid to an abysmal 25 percent, presaging his electoral defeat three months later.

By October 1994, economic growth had climbed to a healthy 4 percent, and unemployment had slid from 7.5 percent in 1992 to 6.1 percent. Yet President Bill Clinton's economic job approval ratings were stuck at 43 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The GOP swept into power on Capitol Hill the next month. It was not until June 1996, more than five years into the longest peacetime economic expansion in history, that Clinton's approval ratings on the economy turned solidly positive.

"Americans are a show-me people," said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion expert at the American Enterprise Institute. "They need to be shown that things have actually been changed, and I think in an economic recovery, this means seeing the guy down the street getting his job back rather than good jobs numbers."

For President Bush, the disconnect has been far more pronounced. Over the course of this year, according to Gallup polling, disapproval of Bush's handling of the economy has risen in lock step with the economy's performance, from 43 percent in early January to 58 percent. "It may be hard to evince positive responses to anything we ask them," conceded Frank Newport, Gallup's polling director.

For Republicans, frustration is beginning to show. Last week, when the Labor Department announced that an additional 248,000 jobs had been created in May, House Ways and Means Committee Republicans e-mailed reporters, blaring, "It's a Booming Economy, Stupid."

But John R. Zaller, a political scientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, suggested that voters may not be stupid. They just may have considerably sharper antennae than economists.

In the fall of 2000, when most economic indicators continued to surge, anxiety among voters began to take a toll on Democrat Al Gore's White House bid, Zaller said. That anxiety proved to be prescient: By the spring of 2001, the economy had slipped into recession.

This go-round, jobs are coming back, but Americans may sense that those jobs are not of the same quality as the work that was lost, Newport said. Any good economic news is being tempered by high gasoline prices, and a generally sour mood has made voters skeptical.

Comments

The column is perhaps the worst piece ever written by Weisman.

Unemployment is up overall. The current job numbers just mean unemployment is not getting worse. It is not yet getting better. 17% unemployment among teenagers. Think of all those unhappy parents yelling at their lazy surly teens for loafing all day and staying out all night. Think how much happier they would be if teen unemployment were 5% or less.

We don't look at economic numbers when we vote. We have been out of recession since 2001. But there have been no jobs. We go to find a job or our relatives go to find a job. If the jobs are not there we get pissed. The jobs have not been there. The jobs are still not there. No jobs?, we vote the bums out.

The flaw in the article is the assumption that voters pay attention to the economy. WRONG. Voters pay attention to jobs. If Bush had any sense, he would have had a jobs program in place by now. However, that does not fit with his tax cuts, screw the poor philosophy. No amount of spin will convince someone with no job that the economy is good. Anyone who writes about a disconnect between a "good economy" and voter satisfaction is looking at the wrong economic statistic. Voters vote on Jobs. Without a job in the USA you have nothing, no benefits, no health care, no pocket money and no respect. Jobs would save Bush, but Bush screwed up his chance to do something about it, the same way he screwed every business he ever ran into the ground.

The news that the economy is showing a strong in surge in job creation may be more mumbo-jumbo than anything else. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) adds what it calls a 'Bias Adjustment Factor' to the number of jobs reported each month. This so-called 'adjustment factor' adds approximately 160,000 jobs to each monthly report. The reason given for the use of the 'adjustment factor' is that each month jobs are created of which the BLS is unaware. (I wonder if the BLS ever thought to add an ‘adjustment factor’ for jobs that were lost in a given month that it is not aware of!) Common sense tells us that this 'bias adjustment factor' can be used as a fudge factor, especially in an election year.

The administration is really out of touch with America. It points to increased Gross Domestic Product, Productivity and corporate profits as indications of a robust economy. Maybe Bush and his rich friends are impressed by these statistics but few others are. When average families gather around the dinner table they don't discuss matters of increased corporate profits or productivity. Average families speak of people they know who lost jobs; they speak of people who are out of work and can't find anything comparable to their last job; they talk of the outsoucing of jobs to cheap overseas sweatshops and wonder if their job is next; they mention someone they know who lost an engineering job and is now working at Home Depot to make ends meets; they wrestle with H1-B and similar visas that allow thousands of foreign workers, who work for much less than Americans, into this country each year for up to 6 years to work primarily in high tech companies and take away good jobs from Americans. According to the BLS, the monthly jobs report does not tally only jobs that Americans fill. The report includes all people on special work visas as well!

Bush’s dream for America is exactly what Americans know as a nightmare! The administration does not what to see the nightmare. And why not, the people in the administration couldn’t care less about the average person as demonstrated by their willful distortion of economic facts in an effort to dupe the public, and all the time aggrandize Bush and his friends – already the richest people in the world!!!