By Juan Williams - 11/24/14 06:00 AM EST
Raise your hand if you love big government — you know, intrusive, controlling high-tax big government.
Not you, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval Bernie fights for relevance Sanders shares star power with NY House hopeful MORE (I-Vt.). The only Socialist elected to Congress is excused from this caucus.
But seriously, every Republican and every Democrat stirs political passion these days by damning big government. From big city neighborhoods in the north to gated cul-de-sacs filled with ‘McMansions’ in the south, it is considered chic to attack government as big, oafish and arrogant.
Democrats complain about government being owned by wealthy political donors and protecting Wall Street. Republicans love the “evil, big government” narrative so much they offer daily attacks from Capitol Hill on a laundry list of government incompetence and failure on issues ranging from Benghazi to Ebola.
So, this Thanksgiving, let us join hands as I offer my list of reasons to give thanks for the good work being done by our government to bring us prosperity, health and peace.
At Thanksgiving 2008, the American economy was on the brink of collapse.
This Thanksgiving unemployment is 5.8 percent, the lowest it has been since the Great Recession. The recovery is slow but it keeps going and going. Federal investment in the stimulus, the auto industry bailout, the “Cash-for Clunkers” program and the Wall Street bailout all worked.
Not only that, but income tax rates for most families are lower today than “at any time since the 1950s,” according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Thanksgiving 2014 arrives with Wall Street investors collecting record levels of profit. Since February of 2010, nearly a million blue-collar, manufacturing jobs have come to America. The consumer confidence index, a critical indicator, is at its highest level since July 2007. The current national average price for a gallon of gasoline is the lowest it has been in four years.
“During the bleakest days of the financial crisis, it seemed the economy would never bounce back…” Business Insider magazine recently wrote in a report on the latest forecast from the financial consultants at JP Morgan. “But six years later…the economy has actually flourished…Five out of six indicators [corporate profits, stock prices, household net worth, GDP, and business investment] have not only reached their pre-crisis highs, but they have actually surpassed them.”
Even the much-maligned government program to boost America’s alternative energy industry, including the loan to solar panel company Solyndra, has been a success. Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist and columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote that the energy program has returned $5 billion in profit for loans from the American people.
One last note on the new American prosperity: When President Obama took office in 2009 the deficit was $1.2 trillion. Today it is projected to be $483 billion. It has gone from 9.8 percent of the GDP to 2.8 percent, an incredible 71 percent reduction.
Here’s another reason to be thankful: The success of the Affordable Care Act.
Despite incessant political attacks and a horrendous start for the website, the program has cut the number of Americans without health insurance by 25 percent. That means about 3 million more of our fellow Americans have health insurance than did so before Democrats in Congress acted. And a Gallup poll recently reported 70 percent of people with “ObamaCare” rate the plan as excellent or good.
There is good news, too, for those of us who had health insurance before the new law. Now young people can stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until they are 26; there are no more lifetime limits on how much insurance companies can spend if you get sick; seniors are saving because the plan is closing the spending gap or “Donut Hole” in Medicare; and the U.S. Treasury recovered billions of dollars with its new effort to stop Medicare fraud as part of the healthcare plan.
And finally, here is a prayer of thanks for world peace.
Yes, Islamic terrorists remain a threat. Yes, the growth of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria [ISIS] is scary. And yes, the bloody attack in Israel last week is a reminder of how hatred still dominates that region.
But while it is true that a small contingent of Americans is still in the Middle East working to advise and train forces to fight terrorists, there is also one big change: U.S. frontline combat troops are not on the ground in the Middle East for the first time in a decade.
As well as that, U.S. air strikes have kept the strategically critical town of Kobani out of the hands of the terrorists. Several ISIS leaders have been recently hit by similar air strikes. Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have joined the United States in fighting the terrorists.
Call me nutty as mom’s Thanksgiving fruitcake but I see a lot of good in our nation’s public employees, including our soldiers and diplomats. Here is a toast, too, for the people who keep the Social Security checks coming, our food safe and the airplanes flying with the best safety record in all history.
When the Continental Congress met in 1777, they offered similar words of thanks as they declared the first “National Day of Thanksgiving in America.” Those patriots created Thanksgiving to allow the citizens to offer “with one heart and one voice… grateful feelings …” for America’s plenty.
Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel.