04 September 2012

Top Ten Economic Arguments Obama & Biden Could Make This Week at the DNC

In which your blogger sounds as partisan as he ever has.

1. We're no better off than we were four years ago? We may be at about the same unemployment level but there's a big difference between passing a point as you climb up the cliff and passing that point as you fall off the cliff. Four years ago we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. This year we're gaining hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. The direction we were going four years ago would have put us into another Great Depression. The direction we're going now puts us among the best of the developed nations in recovery from the Great Recession of 2008.

2. Four years ago, people's retirements had  been pushed out. Their portfolios had lost 25% during Bush's 8 years in office. In the four years since, the stock market has doubled. Investors who depend directly on the market through 401(k)s or indirectly through pension funds are more secure, more affluent, and closer to retirement.

3. Mortgage standards are better. Home prices are still down but they are no longer in free fall. In fact, they're starting to go up again. People buying homes now are better qualified than the people buying homes four years ago.

4. The Republicans' argument depends on the belief that George W. Bush had everything going great and then Obama came along and messed up our economy. It is simple. If you believe that it took Bush 8 years to  fix the bad economy he had inherited from Clinton, an economy that Obama then quickly ruined, you really should vote for Romney. If, instead, you think that Bush derailed an economy that was doing well under Clinton, and Obama is slowly getting that economy back on track, you should instead vote for Obama.

5. There is not much that Romney has made clear about the policies he'll pursue. Among the few things that he has made clear is the promise to slow the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and get tough with Iran, even to the point of another war. These steps would significantly increase defense spending. Oh, and he would cut taxes. Bush was the first president in history to go to war with tax cuts. If he kept his promises, Romney would be the second. If you thought that our ballooning deficits had something to do with bad policy and not just bad luck, you might think twice about voting for Romney.

6. Obama did run up a big deficit. It's bad. What isn't clear is how the GOP would have avoided that. Would they have raised taxes in the midst of the worst recession in nearly a century? Or would they have slashed spending on social security just as so many baby boomers were retiring? Or slashed defense spending in the middle of two occupations? And do they honestly believe that such policies would have lessened rather than worsened the recession? Because once the recession was underway and the tax cuts were in place, deficit growth was inevitable.

7. The Republicans can't explain why Bush's policies contributed to economic catastrophe. They never talk about what could have been different. That's scary. It suggests that they don't know whether the policies they're now proposing (policies little changed from the Bush - Cheney policies) wouldn't once again make the economy worse.

8. The recovery is too slow and has, so far, replaced too few jobs. The problem is that Obama's policies are working slowly. They do seem to be working, though. What would Romney do differently? He promises to cut the deficit more quickly and plans to do that by cutting taxes to the rich and raising taxes on the middle class. This will cut take home pay for the people who spend the biggest portion of their income, shrinking consumption and slowing the recovery further. Obama plans to cut the deficit more gradually, first bringing down unemployment by leaving more take home in the hands of the middle class. Romney may move more quickly, but that's not the real question. The real question is in which direction? Would you rather move quickly in the wrong direction or slowly in the right direction?

9. For Ryan's budget numbers to work, he'd have to cut federal programs like the National Science Foundation, education, green energy, and student loans by about 40%. The pace of innovation will quicken, not slow, during the next four years. If anything, we should increase such investments, not cut them.

10. Bush inherited the best economy in American history. Obama inherited the worst economy of the last 80 years. You gave Bush eight years to ruin the economy. Maybe you could give Obama eight years to fix it.

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