Have we no eyes to see?

JOBS LOST (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

A letter to the editor in my local paper this morning gave a very concise rundown on one of my favorite subjects, one I’ve blogged about often: the difference between perception and reality in how Democrats do with the economy and overall financial health of the country. The fact is that Dems do very well, much better than Republicans, and yet the perception is the opposite.

Part of that is a lazy media of course (another favorite target of mine), but I blame most of it on ourselves and our inability to create a narrative that resonates and takes hold.

It’s really time for Democrats to bite the bullet and start talking in soundbites and bumper stickers. It’s worked phenomenally well for conservatives. And it’s time for Democrats to ask themselves why most Americans can easily articulate the conservative message but not the liberal one.

Anyway, to that letter:

From an independent voter’s perspective, I find the following findings about this election’s hot-button issues to be thought-provoking and worth sharing:

Jobs: 8.5 million jobs have been lost since January 2008. Of this, 3.6 million jobs were lost by December 2008 and 7.5 million jobs were lost by June 2009, before the stimulus bill took effect. More than 860,000 private-sector jobs were created in 2010 — exceeding the total created in eight years under Bush II. By contrast, 22 million jobs were created under Clinton. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Labor)

Government Spending: Federal government spending grew by 100 percent from $500 billion to $1 trillion under Reagan, by 22 percent under Clinton, and by 76 percent from $1.7 trillion to $3 trillion under Bush II. It is estimated to grow 25 percent by 2012. (Source: usgovernmentspending.com)

National Debt: Since World War II, Republican presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 9.2 percent per year, compared with 3.2 percent for the Democratic presidents. National debt as a percentage of GDP went up from 33 percent to 65 percent under Reagan-Bush I, down to 58 percent under Clinton and back up to 65 percent by 2006 under Bush II and a Republican Congress. More than $9 trillion was added to the debt during the Reagan and Bush I and II presidencies — a bulk of the current total of about $13 trillion. By January 2009, the debt was already at $11 trillion. (Source: Wikipedia)

29 responses to “Have we no eyes to see?

  1. The Center Square

    You (and practically no one else) have read enough of my commentary to know how much this post appeals to me. I think you have nailed the two root causes: lazy media and Democrats inability to create a narrative.

    Here is what I see in the media these days: 24/7 partisan score-keeping. It is nigh on impossible to find any election cycle coverage that is not a simplistic outlook of Democratic seat count versus Republican seat count. Meaningful analysis of our nation’s needs, and assessment of the likely impact of each candidate’s impact on those needs, is hard to come by. (Hence my regular attention to the NY Times and NPR.)

    As for the absence of a narrative, that frustration rises exponentially when perhaps the greatest narrative-creator of our time is in the White House. Why don’t we see the famous Maddovian “bikini graph” at every Democratic political event? Now even Bill Clinton has gotten tired of sitting in the stands listening to the crowd roar, “Shoot the puck!!” and has laced on his skates and grabbed a stick. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/21/AR2010102106553.html?hpid=topnews.)

    One small comment running counter to the piece you cited here. While it is numerically true that most of our debt has happened on the watch of Reagan and Bush 43, and that both of them presided over explosive spending growth, the fact is that the spending side of the core structural deficits is due primarily to Democratic initiatives — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements. Take those programs out of the equation, and the deficits wouldn’t be nearly so high. Then again, those two presidents are almost solely responsible for a shift in funding paradigms from taxes to borrowing, so they do are accountable for the second leg of the core deficits. And they are accountable for the third leg as well, military spending and, for Bush 43 anyway, a trigger-happy world view. (I don’t think Grenada was a budget-buster.) So the whole “who caused the massive federal debt” question is fairly complex.

    But, yeah, what you and Ashok and Anna said.


    • I think Harry Reid just gave us one of the most pathetic examples of empty dem rhetoric – Sharon Angle said ‘man up’ and Reid protested saying something like ‘I dont think anyone would question my manhood’. Well, as we all know, when a man actually feels the need to say something like that, he reveals that he’s been deeply wounded. A politician cannot let that show and he did and I have no doubt it hurt him. She threw the bait, he took it and that’s all that anyone will remember. And in all that no Dem message comes thru.

      You’re right of course about the entitlements; health care is going to kill us. I think SS is actually just fine and with occassional tweaks will be fine far into the future. But Medicare/Medicaid? Doom lies ahead with those unless our pols get down to serious business. My guess? They don’t and we crash. Not an appealing scenario.

      Did you hear Britain cut its defense spending – big time?


  2. Splendid post.
    My fear is the battle is lost to pure brainwashing.. Massive input every day – made-up things, denial of facts.

    The Germans were masters of this. Dr. Joseph Goebbels and his “Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”. To be “responsible for controlling the press and culture of Nazi Germany”, “charged with enforcing Nazi doctrine on the people and controlling public opinion.” They even had a state secretary for tourism propaganda! More..


    • [the battle is lost to pure brainwashing . . .] Yup.

      It will take decades to turn that around – it took them decades to get it done and we haven’t even started.


  3. Pingback: Christine O’Donnell Declared Hazard to Mental Health! « A Feather Adrift

  4. Uhhhh,,, earth to The Center Square and talkandpolitics, the only statistic that counts is the unemployment rate rate. Oh and the other only statistic that counts, Obama’s deficits occurred over a much shorter time. Also the Obama deficits have produced far less than Republican deficits.

    Do you two actually believe what you post? How about comparing the pure propaganda of Obama-Care to Tass and Pravda?


    • Hello earth and mr. scott!
      Unemployment yes. Why at 9.7%? Because of Bush policies. The trend (rate of jobloss) was reversed the day Obama took office – and a steady surplus in private sector last 6 months. Fact.

      Deficit yes. What is the current deficit? Bush Wars and Bush entitlements. Fact.

      Glad we agree 🙂


    • Alan – Your first paragraph is true to an extent and is not counter to anything that any of us said above. It adds to what we said.

      Obama Care? The propaganda goes the other way my friend – remember death panels? And the GOP have people beleiving that insurance companies aren’t denying or rationing right now. And that insurance companies let you see the doctor you choose, not hte one they choose. As someone who’s recently on Mediare, let me tell you this is the first itme in decades that I’ve not been subject to insurance oversight re which doctor. Medicare does deny some medical procedures – like the shingles vaccine and I’ve no idea why – it’d be interesting to find out. Wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a lobbyist for Big Pharma kept htat one out.


    • Also Alan – if jobs is all that matters – did you not look at the very top of this post at htat chart? You should be quite happy, since the jobs lost data are going in the right direction.


    • The Center Square

      @ Alan: Yes, I do. And I never read anyone’s propaganda. The sad fact of America these days is that people think the challenge is to find the best propaganda, instead of finding information, and actually, you know, thinking for themselves.

      The unemployment rate is the sole (or at least primary) statistic that counts electorally, which I assume is what you meant. Regarding that, the information I pay attention to is that the economy was shedding jobs at the rate of about 750,000 per month one and a half years ago, then finally turned the tide later in 2009, and since then has generated about 800,000 new private sector jobs. Not a bonanza, but I am grateful that we don’t have an additional 13 million or so unemployed Americans today — the number we would have by now if things had not improved.

      I also take note of the CBO estimates of the impact of the stimulus bill. In the second quarter of 2010, they estimated that the stimulus bill had lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points, increasing employment by between 1.4 and 3.3 million people.

      I have repeatedly looked for, and repeatedly failed to find, an objective economic analysis that contradicts this analysis. Lots of liberal politicians who inflate the positive benefits and lots of conservative ones who deny it. But no economists.

      On the deficits, your information is correct that they have accrued faster on Obama’s watch than any other. But to use an analogy, that’s rather like saying I was the fastest driver around the oval, without mentioning that Jeff Gordon already had the car going 240 mph when he handed me the controls. I refer you to an earlier post of mine: http://thecentersquare.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/how-much-do-you-think-spending-has-increased-under-obama/.

      That post goes back a few months, but the conclusion is the same today: that the sources of the federal deficits are, first, the rate of deficit the government was running prior to Obama ($1.2 trillion annually); plus tax cuts and other reductions in federal income (about $200 billion annually); plus increases in spending (about $100 billion annually). Again, this is all from my own review of original information: you can see the figures here: http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/mspd/mspd.htm.

      why I believe what I believe. I hope you find it sufficiently objective, properly documented and completely non-ideological.

      So, that’s where I get my information and how I formulate my opinions. Where do you get your information and how do you formulate your opinions?


  5. talk and politics,

    Where did you learn your double talk??? Yes Pravda could have used a talented propagandist like you. Got any used cars for sale?


  6. Ms. Holland,

    Just got back from moving daughter number one from half a state away to 2 states away. Every time I think my state of Pa. has the most moronic DOT on the east coast, I get to drive through Delaware.

    Exhausted but, had to get that off my chest.

    ” Obama Care? The propaganda goes the other way my friend – remember death panels? ”

    Gov. Palin has not been forced to retract her statement. I therefore would believe her over anything coming out of the Obama Administration or the Obama press, aka. NPR, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post.

    ” And the GOP have people beleiving that insurance companies aren’t denying or rationing right now. And that insurance companies let you see the doctor you choose, not hte one they choose ”

    Health care is a tough business. When government bureaucrats begin making the ‘exact’ same life or death decisions based on cost, I wonder, wonder, wonder whether you will remember this conversation. And remember, real cost savings in one area ( not the phoney ones Obama invents ) can be used in other areas. What am I talking about?

    Stupid freaking mandates ,mandates, mandates. Corrupt special interest bought and paid for mandates of Obama-Care that will waste countless $ Billions which will not then be available for necessary care, like urr Cancer, Heart Disease, etc. It’s exactly like car insurance. I buy what ‘I’ want. I buy what ‘I’ decide, not what Obama’s cost shifting miracle accountants shove down my throat.

    Do I sound angry? Well onto your other point.

    ” Also Alan – if jobs is all that matters – did you not look at the very top of this post at htat chart? You should be quite happy, since the jobs lost data are going in the right direction. ”

    OK, now that the boat is half awash, the water is not blowing quite as fast, through the holes that your fearless leader shot in the bottom of the hull, when he declared war on American business. Yes things are getting better. Slow, ” like molasses in wintertime ” ( movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales ). Well forget the car Obama keeps getting stuck deeper in the ditch each time he spins the tires, the people in the boat are still drowning.

    If President McCain was presiding over such an anemic recovery, you would be calling him a dismal failure. Double standard.

    ” Tssk, tssk, Alan.” Thank You, it’s been a rough weekend. I feel better now.


  7. As a refugee from the Northeast Corridor, I can deeply sympathize with the frustrations of travel there. For a few years, I commuted by car to NYC from Connecticut. It is one godawful mess. Too many cars and old roads.

    [ Obama Administration or the Obama press, aka. NPR, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post. ]

    So between that list and their employees and sources, you’re probably talking a million people. And Sarah Palin is more informed than they are? Even for you Alan, that’s quite a statement. And she was hardly the only one to use the terms – it was all over Republican media and half the Congress was repeating it. Based on nothing.

    Anyway . . .


  8. Ms. Holland,

    ” Based on nothing. ”

    From my research Governor Palin’s remarks were based on page 425 of the House health care Bill. I’ve read the words and like everything Obama has anything to do with, clarity is not a strong point. Tell me, why can’t Democrats at least screw us in English ?


  9. [I’ve read the words and like everything Obama has anything to do with, clarity is not a strong point]

    So you’re saying the Bill says nothing about ‘death panels’?


  10. Ms. Holland,

    ” So you’re saying the Bill says nothing about ‘death panels’? ”

    True, the phrase “death panels ” is very cleverly left out of Obama-Care legislation. How about we take a quote from the section in question and discuss it, shall we ?

    ” Encourages physicians to discuss end-of-life issues with their elderly patients. This includes advance directives, living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc.

    Encourages physicians to discuss their roles as a health care proxy.

    Encourages doctors to explain end-of-life services and supports, including palliative care and hospice.

    Doctors must explain orders regarding life sustaining treatment, including who will be responsible for functioning as a surrogate decision-maker.

    Requires training for health professionals on use of orders of life sustaining treatment.

    Life-sustaining treatment can be determined by a physician, a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, as well as other health care professionals.

    Life-sustaining treatment will be determined by: “the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulseless, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems; `(ii) the individual’s desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;`(iii) the use of antibiotics; and`(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration. ”

    None of these words sound unreasonable until you put them into the context of the bigger Obama-Care Bill. The context is to contain costs. Doctors will have great pressure brought to bear on them to counsel the severely ill to forgo expensive treatment. Hence Governor Palin’s Death Panel remark.

    The ball is in your court. Shoot me down.


    • My mother died in 2008 and my dad recently. And the stuff above is exactly how it went. It was the same when two cousins died – one in 1991 and one in 1999. It’s the way it’s done.

      The bill you reference is a ‘comprehensive’ bill, meaning of course that it addresses many many areas of health care. I do understand what you think is here to fear, I do understand that reaction. But I don’t see that, I see guidance, something that practitioners and insurers often come to conflict over and my doctor cousin-in-law tells me that both have been trying to get guidelines they can agree on for some time.

      When my dad was dying, he opted for surgery and no one stopped him (although the dr did advise against doing it and told him they would make him comfortable. He was going to die without surgery and probably with surgery was the dr’s opinion). When he began failing after the surgery, the dr explained at first that if there was a viable chance of survival they were compelled to continue treatment and intervention. A few hours later, he came back and said he saw no viable chance, and was now compelled to recommended treatment be stoppped and oxygen be shut off. This conversation took place in the hallway over a cell phone with the speaker turned on. A nurse was standing with us nodding her head.

      In other words, nothing new in that language that I can see.


    • Rereading your comment I do see that you acknowledged ‘nothing unreasonable’ except in a context of cost cutting. Suppose we stipulate that – we are going broke on health care and we may have to face some very unpleasant realities. The elderly in particular, as you probably know, spend about 90% of their lifetime costs of health care in the last two years of their lives. In my dad’s case, pretty much the last weekend of his life! Suppose the hospital had said no to the surgery. I’ve thought about that – and think it’s reasolnable for a 98 year old with a ten percent chance of survivinng the surgery. It is NOT reasonable for a 21 year old even with only a 10% chance. In other words, as I said, guidelines are only that. Circumstances are the final determination.


  11. Ms. Holland,

    I understand what you are saying. Our family had a somewhat similar situation when my Stepfather was dying of stomach cancer. Some of what was chosen in that case was not what I personally would have chosen but, at least the family and my Stepfather made those choices.

    I think Governor Palin’s fear was just how much independence the doctors would have . Granted, you could argue that insurance companies essentially function as death panels in many cases right now.

    ” Suppose we stipulate that – we are going broke on health care and we may have to face some very unpleasant realities. ”

    I am glad we agree on something. We just disagree on whether Obama-Care is the solution. The elderly are the most politically powerful class in America. Not counting the ruling politicians. I know from personal experience that if you mess with their Government benefits, such as their Medicare or their SS checks they will go on a jihad against you.

    Most old people will grab onto a 1% chance to live and damn the costs. I don’t know that I will be any different when it becomes my time.


    • I think Obama care is a first step and will be revised many times in the coming years. It doesn’t even begin to take effect till 2014 and then only incrementally. So that book is still being written.

      Oh, yeah! Take my Medicare and SS and I’ll come after you! LOL.

      I worked for 48 years, being a good citizen, paying my taxes, doing my best. All the while paying into SS and Medicare. Today I couldn’t make it without them. Before SS, most of the elderly in this country lived in abject poverty.

      SS is fine – I would argue with anyone who can’t acknowledge that with adjustments we can afford it just fine.

      Health care and Medicare and Medicaid are a whole nother story. And as best I can tell, what you call ‘Obama care’ is a serious step in the direction of addressing the problem. The better solution would have been a public option or Medicare for everyone. But the political will wasn’t there.


  12. Ms. Holland,

    I believe in being totally frank. You are on the public entitlement bandwagon. In 12 years I will be also. Ideologically I resent it, but at least you and I have paid into the system for a very long time. I’ve said it before, demographics, demographics, demographics. Forgive me for calling you this, but as a ‘senior citizen’ you should be against the Obama entitlement tidal wave.

    It only works demographically if a limited number is on it. By expanding the gravy train, which includes all entitlements, President Obama ‘has’ endangered your Medicare and SS.

    While you were paying in for 48 years, I applaud your good citizenship, the government was transferring wealth from you to those you were paying for. If they had transferred too much it would not have paid you to work or your employers to employ you . Now as is right, other people’s wealth is being transferred to you. If you think about it, you really do not want a lot of company on the receiving end of the wealth transfer equation because every year there are fewer people like me on the giving end.

    In 12 years I will be keeping you company. When you add on all of the entitlements Obama has promised, you crash the system. I know, I know just tax the rich more. Well it don’t work. Just the threat of extra taxes next year has a trillion dollars sitting in limbo, which is why the economy still sucks.

    The extra taxes to pay for all of President Obama’s Christmas presents to the needy and the greedy will shrink the economy. If you want to know the brave new world Democrats have created, look at the riots in Greece last summer, the riots in France now, and the draconian budget cuts in the UK.


  13. [While you were paying in for 48 years . . .the government was transferring wealth from you to those you were paying for.]

    See, here’s a really big difference Alan between you and me. I don’t resent that transfer. I don’t think of that money as ‘my wealth’, I think of it as my contribution to a civil society. I wanted to be part of providing a decent old age for people. And I’m very very glad it’s here for me. And I’m grateful that those younger than me are making their contributions.

    The French riots are nearly over. The French, as you may have noticed, do this every few years. It’s kind of a national sport. Greece is practically a third world country and cannot be compared to the US.


  14. Ms. Holland,

    ” And I’m grateful that those younger than me are making their contributions. ”

    When you were making your contributions, you had a reasonable idea that SS would take care of you. I may be OK. My children are making contributions into a failed system that will fail them. Anyone who says different, just does not know the facts.


    • SS will make it. First, in its present form and withouit any fiddling and given the current demographics, it’s stable till 2037. It’s big trouble after that if it’s left alone, so we have to make adjustments – lots of things on the table like age adjustment, means testing, better enforcement etc – one adjustment that makes absolutely no sense is to move it into the private sector. SS has been performing superbly for 75 years. It’s a sterling model and we need to stay within that framework if we’re to provide security for old age. For everyone.


  15. Ms. Holland,

    ” one adjustment that makes absolutely no sense is to move it into the private sector. ”

    I have argued this point for 9 years on blogs to liberals such as yourself. I know before I start what you will answer back with, but because I believe as passionately in my argument as you do in yours , I will make my case for the umpteenth time.

    Since you worked in the private sector, you are aware that since the early 1990s, private firms have moved away from traditional defined benefit pensions. Have you ever asked yourself why ? Your possible answer is that Corporations are greedy bastards who want to make their Wall St. buddies rich on the backs of the lil guy, or in your case woman.

    The facts are this. The old models do not work. They are based on very few people living a long time in retirement. Your father would have been an exception in the old days. Now his life span is becoming more common.

    The young paying in now are supporting far more recipients than what you and I were supporting in our 20s and 30s. That is a fact which you do not wish to face. From that young persons point of view, all of his money is going down a rat hole . There are not enough suckers behind him, for him to have a nice retirement such as you are enjoying. He knows that, even as you do not.

    All Bush wanted to do was allow this poor sucker to keep a pitiful 4-5% of his own money and put it in what was basically an IRA account. The other 95% would have continued to support the current retirees.

    Your Party has constantly lied and lied and lied about this to scare the hell out of the old people. No one over 55 would have been eligible.

    ” SS has been performing superbly for 75 years. It’s a sterling model and we need to stay within that framework if we’re to provide security for old age. For everyone. ”

    The model is broken. First by lying politicians from both parties who have raided the stash. Who have allowed all sorts of people on the gravy train that did not pay in their fair share. Lastly the model is broken for the same reason defined pensions are broken. Demographics. Example New Jersey and Pennsylvania have $Billions in unfunded liabilities for Public Teachers defined Pensions. Better yet, it was the UAW pensions that really brought down Government Motors and Chrysler. They would have failed even if they had made the ‘right’ cars. Obama’s bail out was really a UAW pension bail out.

    SS now has $ Trillions in ‘Unfunded’ liabilities . Mediscare is even spookier, as is Mediscam, I mean Medicade.

    Y0ur leaders in the Democratic Party are in denial on all of this .


    • Sorry Alan. We won’t agree on this one. While it’s true that the private pension model failed and is failing, it’s not really the same thing as SS.

      I’m well aware – as I said above – of the demographic aspects, more old people, fewer young people. But we’ve known about that since 1950 – and actually tweaked SS twice in the intervening years to prepare for the bulge. And we need to do it again – soon.

      Also, and most people don’t notice this, once the baby boom generatoin goes through SS and Medicare and dies (omg, I’m going to die!!!) the numbers will level out again. Not such a difference between numbers of people putting in and those taking out.


  16. Ms Holland,

    Tweaked ? Tweaked ? That’s like saying the Titannic could have been saved if they had tweaked it. I truly hope you know what you are talking about.


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