A Matter of Fact8/11/20
A Matter of Fact
"In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” - George Orwell
James Carville famously suggested, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and our president seems to agree. And Joseph Goebells advised, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” At 20,000 falsehoods and counting, Donald Trump seems to have taken his counsel to heart.
Ideally it would stretch our imaginations to have a president refusing to disclose his tax returns and surfing a decade-long recovery while claiming his predecessor had been “moving in the wrong direction.” We’re told this is “our greatest economy ever” and Covid-19 “will just disappear.” He’s even suggesting that Obama and Biden “stopped testing, right in the middle” of our Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of us may still be hugging our Trumpy bears, but more of us recall that Obama and Biden weren’t in office when Covid-19 hit. Hoping to be reelected and not face an uncertain future, our president is tweeting about our “GREAT” stock market and casting doubt upon our upcoming election.
We have unemployment rates and quarterly earnings losses we haven’t seen since our Great Depression, but he can’t run on his “China virus” leadership. We’ve suffered more fatalities than any other nation and were barred from traveling to many of them before he would “craft a strategy.”
With emotions running high, we might find it to our advantage to bypass partisan tomes and simply get to the heart of the matter: accountability. Truth would do it. Real facts and real outcomes matter to all of us. And we would not only know that our economy had been on a steady upward trajectory since 2009, we could even be aware that our president’s highest annual level of economic growth, 2.83 percent in 2018, was welcomed, but fell short of Obama’s 2014 and 2015 annual GDP growth rates of 3.06 percent and 3.05 percent.
We might even ask the “greatest jobs president God ever created” why he would associate God’s name with yet another false claim. We did create 6.6 million jobs during his first 36 months, but we had added 8.1 million, or 23 percent more jobs, during a comparable period of time at the end of Obama’s presidency.
And it’s a long shot, but we could even be reminded of debt during a Republican administration - and not only how large it had become during our deepest recession, but that Obama had reduced our budget deficit before leaving office. Democratic administrations have reduced deficits since 1980, while Republican administrations have created three times as much debt as a share of our economy. Trump’s deficit was on course to become our largest ever recorded - in a relatively good economy and before Covid-19.
Government statistics may not have us shouting, ”Lock her up,” but real data does allow us to respond more appropriately to claims like “after years of wage stagnation, we’re finally seeing rising wages.” Our wages had been on an upward trajectory since 2014; Adjusted for inflation, they were up 1.3 percent annually under Obama and 0.8 percent annually under Trump. We did see median wages shoot up recently, but it could be too much to ask of any president to tell us this happens when lower wage workers lose jobs.
Unless more of us become amenable to authoritarian leadership, it will fall upon our economy to provide a pathway through the world’s highest number of Covid-19 deaths to this president’s reelection. In any case, we might find it in our best interests to know that we have had more jobs, more wage growth, and more economic growth during Democratic administrations since WWII; and this has not changed under Trump.
Republicans believe in less government, tax cuts and trickle down, but dissembling for any advantage and solidarity at any cost have become markers of their leadership. Stuart Stevens, former Republican and author of “It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump,” gets to the heart of the matter. He believed his party “always had a dark side;” and he thought it was a recessive gene, but “it turned out to be a dominant gene.”
After experiencing nearly four years of a president whose “gut tells him more than anybody else’s brain can,” our democratic republic is desperately in need of competence and accountability. Ivanka is suggesting that unemployed workers “find something new.” We might agree. We have never needed change more than we do now
Carol Voyles is a member of the Democratic Forum. She writes from Easton.