Saturday, June 04, 2011

Our Economy and it's Impact on 2012

Aside from a fun post answering 30 questions about myself, my absence amidst the pages of ethecofem has gone on now for just over 4 months.  Ever since this time there's been a great groundswell of opine, led by the impassioned musings of the incomparable Bema, including of all ethecofem's contributors sans me.  So, it's about damn time I wrote something around here...

Much like my recently lethargic attitude towards the written word, much the same can be said to describe our country's current economic situation.  It's really been a drag recently.  In fact, a year ago it forced me to take up a temp job, effectively pushing me harder than ever to seek out a real job that I hope will afford me the often overlooked benefits of paid time off and vacation.  With my attention directed towards the job hunt it has made it all the more difficult to focus on my writing.

The chief motivator for me to write, most often, is when I read or hear something that just totally pisses me off.  Such was the case on Thursday when Mitt Romney belatedly announced his candidacy for the presidency.  What really perturbed me, as it should anyone who's been paying attention the past 2 years, is when some conservative, prep-school reared stuffed shirt from New England (who should technically know better) bows to the radical elements in his party to gain their favor (see John McCain 2008 - the model for going against your own morals to win The Nomination) by making false accusations.

There is a long list of crap this man spewed on Thursday, but there were two that specifically stood out for me.  The first: "When [Obama] took office the economy was in recession. He made it worse."  And the second: "I will cap federal spending at 20% or less of the GDP and finally, finally balance the budget."

Well, when it comes to calling a man out for his lies, the Associated Press was on the ball in debunking Romney's fraudulence right off the bat... the problem is that none of those he's seeking to impress or convince will ever read this analysis, preferring instead to wallow in the spin.  But wait, Fox News actually printed AP's column amidst their own pages.  Should one see this as a "Fair and Balanced" approach or assume that it's pretty clear that Romney still isn't radical enough for their brand of conservatism?  I'll default to the latter every time.  Even though Romney has made multiple appearances on Fox since his announcement, they still prefer, as most the media has, to focus on Palin stealing his thunder in New Hampshire this week - a woman who not only isn't officially running yet, but still on the Fox News payroll.  So it's clear that not only is the conservative right not buying the crap he's trying to shill specifically to the FNC set, no one else is gonna buy it either.

Here's an excerpt of the AP's clear debunking of Romney's first claim and his chief falsehood that the president has made our economy worse:

The gross domestic product, the prime measure of economic strength, shrank by a severe 6.8 percent annual rate before Obama became president. The declines eased after he took office and economic growth, however modest, resumed. The recession officially ended six months into his presidency. Unemployment, however, has worsened under Obama, going from 7.8 percent in January 2009 to 9.1 percent last month. It hit 10.1 percent in October 2009.  
A case can be made for and against the idea that Obama's policies made the economy worse than it needed to be and that the recession lasted longer than it might have under another president. Such arguments are at the core of political debate. But Obama did not, as Romney alleged, make the economy worse than it was when he took office. 

In fact, the President came right back this morning and emphasized the progress that has been made in the manufacturing sector, chiefly the auto industry, furthering the notion that government intervention not only works (wherein the taxpayers got their money back), but that in temporary instances governments are able to add a unique perspective that supposedly self-reliant companies can actually benefit from during financial calamities.  Governments can help (see Thing #12) more than the free-marketeers are willing to admit.  Here's what President Obama had to say this morning:

Romney's second assertion that he would cap federal spending at 20% of GDP and finally (finally!) balance the budget is almost more absurd than the previous assertion, making him almost look nescient in comparison to Paul Ryan and his broken budgetary blunder.  Moderate conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan of The Dish sums this assertion up thusly:

I presume Romney intends a balanced budget within his maximum term of office. That is a staggering goal, give the structural forces propelling the debt. It's way more draconian than the Ryan plan, which won't deliver a balanced budget for more than a decade. So what would he cut? Given his pledge to abolish all the cost-controls in the ACA, how does he propose to reform Medicare? How much would he cut from defense? Which taxes would he raise? By not even suggesting a single specific to reach a truly radical goal, the pledge is basically meaningless.
So what does this all mean for those conservatives who've set their gaze upon 2012?  From what I can tell, thus far, it pretty much means that they're all fucked.  I'll explain.  And by the way, it's WAAAAYY too way early to tell what they hell is going on with 2012 polling, but currently it looks like this, via Gallup May 26th 2011:

What this polling tells me is that while it's too early to consider anyone an outright front-runner, it does speak to some potentially crazy permutations.  Let's say that someone more conservative like Herman Cain or more likely Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann (if they ever enter the race as expected) actually wins an early GOP primary in say South Carolina, New Hampshire or Iowa (all very possibly states for them to win).  This should actually help Romney, the slowly ascending Pawlenty or even the already anointed dark horse Jon Huntsman.  The GOP's more moderate candidates would actually stand to benefit from an early uber-conservative win(s) because the historically moderate and monied GOP base will freak out and run into the arms of it's more moderate candidates.  

At the same time, said moderate candidates will overreact, kowtowing to those leaning toward the extreme fringes, thus subverting future attempts to recapture the middle when the primary season has concluded.  My point here is that even if a fringe candidate is nominated, they're screwed because independents will either shift to Obama or a non-factor like Paul.  For a moderate to win, they'll have to subvert their own self-interested moderate disposition to earn it, becoming temporarily radical enough to get the nomination, thus alienating themselves from moderate voters in the general election (again, see John McCain's folly).

In the end, especially amidst today's information seeking populace, even Fox News is exposing liars like Romney and will eventually become critical of even their former employees like Palin and Newt.  While a lot of bullshit can be slung in the interim, our elections focus most, as they should, on "what have you done or what experience do you have to prove your assertions?" Simultaneously, history has proven that incumbent candidates, especially those with both economic and militaristic successes, have a much greater chance at reclaiming the presidency.

Unless our economy takes a huge tumble between now and November 2012, something I don't see happening, the presidency will be nearly impossible for the GOP to capture. Unless they can prove to the American people that they possess actual means by which to improve the state of our country (something that may not even be in question 15 months from now), not more false assertions and broken promises, I see no reason to believe any of the bloviations we'll be subjected to for the next 18 months.  What a long, strange, lying trip it will be...