Many Americans appear to have a poor memory when it comes to economic policy, since they have the misconception that electing a GOP-majority Senate and keeping a GOP House will change their economic conditions for the better. If recent history is any guide, these nostalgic voters who vote for GOP economic policies will vote to pass most economic benefits to the well-off and further harm the economic prospects of the poor and middle class.
Recently, I read Paul Krugman's excellent Rolling Stone article that highlighted the accomplishments (and disappointments) of Barack ObamaBarack ObamaObama reads round two of ‘mean tweets’ on Kimmel Trump links WikiLeaks to media ‘voter suppression’ What will be in Obama’s Presidential Library MORE's presidency and how those accomplishments are ignored, especially considering the Great Recession he inherited — what many economists consider the most dire economic condition since the Great Depression.
The right-wing meme chanted repeatedly and without regard to fact or data during the past six years has been "It's Obama's fault!" and it lacks any credibility, since the GOP has a remarkably poor track record this century when it comes to economic policy. In that regard, comparing the economic results of Republicans and President George W. Bush to those of Democrats and Obama may be of some benefit to those with a short memory.
Four-and-a-half of those eight Bush years were with both houses of Congress, and six of eight years were with control of the House.
From an op-ed in The Hill: "Since taking office, the administration has racked up 55 straight months of job creation. Last month, when it was 'only' 54 months in a row, Vice President Biden noted, 'That's the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in U.S. history.'" Granted Biden may be prejudiced; however, facts are facts. I ask you, shouldn't this record of accomplishment be widely reported?"
Republicans also say they would shrink government to a size that they could drown it in a bathtub. What has Obama done in his time in office? Public-sector employment has fallen by more than 500,000 jobs. While I would argue that those cuts can have harmful effects, the cuts are real and as a result that GOP talking point should be muted. As Danny Vinik writes in the New Republic, "Republicans will undoubtedly argue that the size of the public sector workforce is a poor indicator of the reach of the federal government. And many of those public sector job losses have come at the state and local levels. That's all true. But employment in the federal government has fallen as well. When Obama took office in January 2009, the federal government employed 2.792 million people. Right now, it is down to 2.714 million." Cuts to local and state government payrolls are more pronounced.
Long-term unemployment is still unacceptably high, but falling. New programs to help the long-term unemployed, described as "the Obama administration (being) engaged with America's leading businesses to develop best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed," are part of a White House initiative. The program is designed to help those who have been out of work the longest due to slow growth in certain job sectors, skills mismatches and especially hiring discrimination. The GOP plan to help the long-term unemployed these past four years is still being debated.
Some in the GOP will point to the 40 jobs bills passed by the GOP House that have been stalled in the Democratic Senate. Most, if not all, of those Republican "jobs" bills are corporate welfare schemes that would create few jobs at a steep price.
Carl Riccadonna, a senior economist at Deutsche Bank, said in the Huffington Post that "They are very narrowly targeted, and it gives the impression that maybe some of this is special interest [sic] really pursuing these, not really taking a macro view but a very, very micro focus in what the impact would be. ... Jobs are a second- or third-order effect, not the main priority.'"
House Republicans passed a "jobs" bill that includes a smorgasbord of traditional conservative ideas. But it would also increase the deficit by $590 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And these aren't temporary costs, like the stimulus (which wasn't that much larger, moneywise, than this new GOP jobs plan anyway). After the first decade, the costs will only increase. More welfare for corporations that are currently earning record profits, and using those profits to mostly buy back stock, is not a recipe for jobs creation.
Which state has the nation's highest unemployment rate? That would be GOP-controlled Georgia. Twelve of the 18 states with the highest unemployment rates are GOP-controlled. But how can that be when Republicans are the supposed job creators?
At least one Republican is proud of his job-creating abilities. GOP Senate candidate David Perdue in fact boasts of his job creating skills. As detailed by Politico, "Perdue spoke at length about his role in Pillowtex's collapse, which led to the loss of more than 7,600 jobs. Perdue was asked about his 'experience with outsourcing,' and his response was blunt. 'Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that,' Perdue said."
Unfortunately, the jobs he created were all overseas. But if the polls are any indication, Georgia GOP voters are looking forward to more jobs outsourcing from Perdue.
The GOP wants to cut corporate taxes and reduce health and worker protections even further. But corporations don't need more profits for shareholders and bonuses for executives; they need to increase hiring with all that newfound wealth.
The GOP's claim that they are better at job creation is false and not based in fact, since the GOP and George W. Bush record of job creation during the 2000s is poor at best. While participation rates, long-term unemployment and struggling wage growth are areas that need vigilant attention, believing that the failed GOP economic ways of trickle-down, voodoo economics are the ways to economic prosperity is a mistake that many voters seem to believe is worth repeating — likely to their own detriment.
Thornton has spent two decades as a documentation analyst and environmental remediation manager. His writing has been noted on "The Ed Schultz Show," "The Rachel Maddow Show," "PBS NewsHour" and the The Huffington Post.