By Jason Newell
One Dunce Cap is a statement that is mostly true.
Two Dunce Caps is a statement that is somewhat true.
Three Dunce Caps is a misleading or distorted statement.
Four Dunce Caps is a statement that is mostly fabricated.
Five Dunce Caps is an outright lie.
Quick note: the statements chosen will not only be confined to present or future statements—we will also be digging up old statements if considered applicable.
(AKA, Mr. Snapping Turtle)
“The uptick [referring to the improving economy] appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
Oh Mr. McConnell, nothing you say seems to shock me anymore—and the more you speak, the more I’m convinced that you’re a borderline lunatic. This statement, even if it’s a few months old, is applicable because it represents the mental deficiencies currently plaguing the Republican Party. Not only is it baseless; this statement was said in order to bring credibility to GOP, which has been a do-nothing party since they took over the House in 2010. I would like to ask the GOP the following question: How does doing nothing culminate into success?
Before analyzing the statement, I want to quickly touch on public perceptions regarding political success: what I have noticed, especially of late, is a tendency for conservatives to disregard Obama’s legislative enactments as they relate to the improving economy. Now, while I can concede that presidential policies don’t always necessarily impact economic recoveries, there are times when individuals need to give credit where credit is due.
Let me explain further: under George W. Bush—during the speculative bubble to be more exact—conservatives lauded both the Bush Tax Cuts, and the Bush Administration’s energy policy (i.e., invading sovereign nations that contain crude oil), believing that these policies had a quantifiable effect on the booming economy. However, ever since Obama was inaugurated, conservatives have refused to give the president any credit—even if some of his policies have in fact contributed to the economic recovery.
Public perception of political success can be divided into two schools of thought:
1) The policies enacted by certain legislators have no quantifiable impact on the American economy. Therefore, legislators don’t deserve credit.
2) The policies enacted by certain legislators have a quantifiable impact on the American economy. Therefore, legislators deserve credit if their policies succeed, and equal criticism when their policies fail.
For the sake of sanity, let’s agree on perception #2—if legislators enact policies that can be reasonable perceived as having a quantifiable impact on the health of the economy, then they should be given credit, no questions asked.
Ok, so, is everything clear? If so, let’s proceed to breakdown Mitch McConnell’s objectively dubious statement.
Mitch McConnell’s claim centers on the notion that once the GOP gained control of the Senate, Wall Street, the business sector, and the general public felt a general sense of ease knowing that Obama’s regulatory scheme would become stalled, if not overturned. In sum, according to Mr. Snapping Turtle, the free market functions better under the control of a pro-laissaez-faire governing body—in essence, a party that limits the government’s role in the economy to that of a night watchman will preside over a booming market. And even if, hypothetically speaking, we consider this rationale to be true–the GOP has done nothing to roll back the regulatory scheme, or to incentivize growth. Simply being elected doesn’t warrant legitimate praise.
Incidentally, the starting date for this supposed success would be November 4th, 2014 (the date the GOP was officially going to take control of the Senate), or January 3rd, 2014 (the swearing in date), depending on the context. But I think that it’s pretty clear that he meant November 4th. To rehash, he said: “the expectation of a new Republican Congress.” So, “expectation” likely represents the public’s post-election sentiment (or maybe even a couple months before). Once again, how can doing nothing quantifiably impact the economic recovery? Especially when one considers the fact that the last two Congresses have been the least productive in American history.
Ok, now it’s time invoke some facts! As decided earlier, the start date for Mitch McConnell’s claim is November 4th 2014—the date today is April 16th, 2015. This provides Mr. Snapping Turtle a 5 ½ month window. To begin, let’s take a look at monthly jobs number, via the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The economy, from March 2014, until March 2015, had 12 straight months of 200-plus job gains. And yes, to his credit, November and December 2014 were monster months for job growth, but the large jobs gains had already started in early 2014—so this is clearly a fabricated assertion. (The GOP did nothing significant during that—leading up to Mitch’s statement, mentioned in early January—two month period to have a quantifiable impact on those large job growth numbers. Remember, redefining rape and restricting abortion rights doesn’t help anybody’s stock options.)
Moreover, GDP has been growing since Q2 of 2014, meaning it began in April 2014:
Given the reality of this GDP growth starting in Q2 of 2014, Mitch McConnell has absolutely no way to prove how the “expectation of a new Republican congress” would have a quantifiable impact on the economy. Even granting him the benefit of the doubt by extending the “expectation” a few months back—to a point where polls started to indicate the likelihood of a GOP takeover (let’s say, to September 2014)—would not go far back enough (i.e., to April 2014, which would be the technical start for Q2; a point where GDP growth started to rapidly accelerate). My Ruling: the GOP’s policies had nothing to do with recent GDP growth.
Furthermore, the shrinking deficit, in part due to an increase in government receipts, is another economic indicator that can’t be tied to the GOP:
The deficit started to shrink in 2009, and even if one disregards 2009 because Obama’s policies were not yet fully implemented, the deficit has shrunk immensely since 2010. Anyone that understands basic economics knows that a deficit often decreases in the event of increasing tax receipts, i.e., tax revenue. A government increases its ability to pay its bills when the economy improves: if more individuals are employed, more revenue can be collected, thus leading to the shrinking of a federal deficit. (The phasing out of policies also contributed to the shrinking deficit, but the primary factor is increasing tax receipts.)
Moreover, Mitch is also presumably taking credit for the decreasing unemployment rate, which hit 5.5% in March (the lowest it has been in nearly 5 years):
The unemployment rate has been dropping at a steady pace since April 2014, when it stood at 6.2%. Now, I can expect criticisms in terms of the economic data I’m citing due to it lacking the participating rate. However, the economic downturn, returning baby boomers, and students staying in school longer, have significantly contributed to the lowering of the participation rate—blame should not be solely directed toward Obama. But, a better way to look at it is by analyzing the prime working age participation rate:
If you take a brief look at the chart, you can see that the prime age participation rate started to drastically increase in the 1970s, it peaked in the early 2000s, and has been dropping slightly ever since. Given these facts, it is safe to say that 1) the participation rate is an overblown statistic, and 2) that the criticism aimed at Obama for the low participation rate is naively misdirected. But, let’s return to Mitch McConnell’s statement: the unemployment rate has been decreasing rapidly for about 10 months now—so Mitch, one again, you’re idiotic assertion is on par with Richard Nixon’s Watergate denial.
To be frank, the Right’s hypocrisy regarding the credibility of economic indicators is laughable—who ever heard of the declining participation rate under the Bush years? When the unemployment rate was low early on during the Bush Presidency, I don’t recall conservatives vociferously attacking Bush for the decreasing participation rate. It’s both unfair and unbalanced to conveniently question the credibility of certain economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate, when you see fit—i.e., when your leader is in office. The unemployment rate, regardless of who is presently in office, should be perceived in virtually the same manner. So, if you find yourself criticizing Obama for touting the recent job growth, then I surely hope that you did the same for Mr. Dubya.