In a debate with Senator Al Franken today, Mike McFadden claimed that our economy is “sideways” and we need to change course. This is interesting to think about. Could it be the case that McFadden doesn’t know the facts or does he really think the facts don’t matter?
Facts do matter and one does not need to look far to find them. But you might think someone running for serious public office would have command of these facts.
McFadden talks about jobs, prices, and energy. In 2009 the economy lost millions of jobs, literally hundreds of thousands of jobs each month. Today the economy is adding anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 or more each month, a significant positive net change. In Minnesota, the state McFadden would represent, unemployment was 8.3% in 2009. Today that rate is 4.3, if not better. That’s better than a 50% improvement.
McFadden says prices are rising however inflation is hardly a worry. As a matter of fact, the lack of inflation is more worrisome that runaway price increases. Today inflation stands at 1.7%, about half of what the Fed traditional targets as ideal. It is indeed true that some prices have increased and although much of that is moderating a bigger problem is stagnate wages. Wages for most workers have remained flat or declined in real dollars.
In terms of energy, the United States appears to be doing much better today compared with 2009. Domestic energy production is up in all sectors, especially fossil fuels. The so-called “War on Coal” and other fossil fuels conservatives the Obama Administration of waging doesn’t hold up to the facts. In the Obama years, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas.
Additionally, Obama supports everything from alternate sources of energy — the future of energy — to investments in smart grids and better energy technologies. Conservatives? Not a chance.
Conservatives complain about Obama blocking exploration of public lands because exploiting public lands is cheap and thereby profitable. It has nothing to do with energy production in the United States today. Energy production is up, energy profits are at record highs. That’s “sideways” according to McFadden.
McFadden also attacks health care costs. That’s a lot like the arsonist complaining about the fires he has started. When was the last time anyone saw health care and health care insurance costs decline? Not here, not in the United States. Again — as a matter of fact — without comprehensive health care reform, we cannot expect health care rates to decline in our broken for-profit system. Until the way we deliver health care changes the costs will not decline regardless of who is in office. The best we can do is ensure greater access and Democrats alone offer that opportunity.
It is important to keep in mind one other fact, a simple one: When Republicans were in charge, things were not going very well. If you want to look at a sideways economy, look at the work of Republicans. We can perhaps quibble, for example, about dividing the blame for destroying the middle class, systematically dismantling sound fiscal policy, and abandoning future priorities. However we cannot argue about who was in charge when the nation entered the Great Recession. It was not Barack Obama or Al Franken. McFadden cannot walk away from that fact.
Mike McFadden represents the values and policies of the past, values and policies that did so much harm. Democratic leadership, on the other hand, has proven to be good for America on almost every measure. Why should we reverse things now?