If you watched the Republican Convention a couple weeks ago, you saw a major political party tell you the United States is pretty much an economic hellscape. If you listened to their rhetoric and took seriously, you had to walk away convinced that The Grapes of Wrath was real and in effect in 2016. You got an image of millions of families who were so close to disaster that they are selling apples on street corners just to be able to put a bowl of rice in their bellies. You had to picture mile-long soup lines and families where the kids had to wear rags because their parents couldn’t afford to buy clothes for them. It’s really bad out there in GOP America and you should be afraid… very afraid.
It’s time to cut the crap.
I’m not going to blow smoke; there are problems, and the problems persist beyond where they should be more than six years after the Great Republican-caused Bush near-depression. But things are not dire, they just need some tweaking. For example, the minimum wage is far too low; something President Obama addressed a few years ago, when he raised the minimum for federal contractors to $10.10 and increased the exemption threshold at which employers could manage to not have to pay their employees overtime. However, the Republican Congress won’t address any of that stuff. They don’t even want to invest taxpayer money in infrastructure projects that would trigger job creation, nor will they support new industries that are desperately needed and which would produce millions more jobs. There is also little to no help for the poor, thanks to Republican spending cuts.
In other words, things for the very poor are worse than they have been in a couple of decades, but for everyone else, it’s possible claim a level of mediocrity, to a certain extent, but we’re not exactly living in the hell the GOP is describing. Basically, if you feel like times are difficult and scary, it’s because the Republican Party and the irresponsible press keeps on pushing that narrative. It’s certainly not based on actual facts.
Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 255,000 jobs were created in July. That makes July the 70th straight month of overall job growth and the 77th straight months of private secret job growth. I make the distinction because right wingers always claim that the government doesn’t create jobs. That means, based on Fox News thinking, in which people like police, firefighters and teachers don’t actually count, there has been 77 straight months of job growth, not 70. And over the past 12 months, unemployment has been lower than it was at any time during the presidency of St. Reagan, the undisputed master of GOP economic BS. The lowest it ever was during the GOP-led 1980s, when their king ruled over us, was 5.2%. And Republicans called that “full employment,” if you can believe that. So, we’re at better than “full employment,” yet, the way the Republican Party tells it, we’re in a job-barren wasteland.
In addition to that, wages have risen at a 2.6% annual rate, which is a greater increase than at any time under Reagan or either Bush. And let’s be realistic here; the younger Bush spent most of his two terms under the dome of the largest economic bubble in the history of the world. When that bubble burst in 2008, $17 trillion in fake money was sucked out of the system. That would seem to indicate that there was $17 billion extra in the economy and they still couldn’t fix things. Anyway, this is about now. Over the first seven months of the year, the economy has added an average of 186,000 jobs per month, which is considered a health pace.
Not only does all this undermine the GOP meme, that the economy is in the shitter, but it also shows that regulation and investment does work, as do tax increases on the very rich. It also demonstrates that the strategy of growing the job market slowly and steadily really does work and that the lower unemployment stays, the higher wages go. The recovery is not stalled; even after 77 straight months, it’s growing at a healthier pace than we’ve seen in a while. In short, the Republican meme, in which the job market is terrible, is not borne out by facts. And while Republicans like to point to the growth rate to show that the economy is still troubled, that’s ridiculous. No one really cares about the GDP growth rates; they want to know there’s a chance they’ll get a raise at some point soon. They also care that wages rise for everyone because that is the best way to reduce both poverty and crime. They also like to tout labor participation rate, which is absolutely irrelevant, especially since what is happening now with regard to that was predicted a long time ago, largely because of the Baby Boomer retirement surge that is happening right now. The gig economy, wherein more people are making a living driving for Uber or developing mobile apps, also affects the labor participation rate.
It’s also worth noting that all of these improved numbers have been occurring even as the oil prices have been in free-fall and the oil and gas industry is now working in a “new normal” mode. Several economic experts are pointing to the fact that one of the strongest areas of job growth is in the $50-150,000 job category, so it can no longer be claimed that the only jobs being created are service jobs or jobs in fast food. Overall job growth was seen in professional and management sectors as well as in areas where limited skills are needed. Students coming out of college are being hired at a greater clip now, which means they may be able to pay the student debt created when Republicans cut available funding for financial aid and also cut educational funding to states. Hell; even the unemployment rate for high school dropouts is down more than a point since the beginning of the year, the lowest point in a decade and the largest single drop in that sector since 1999.
Just today, the stock market raised its record and the Dow is within striking distance of 20,000, which is a shade higher than the 6,500 low caused by Republican economic policy less than eight years ago. With increases in the minimum wage in many states, even lower-wage workers are seeing raises. And not just among minimum wage workers, either. In many areas of California, for example, companies are having to raise their starting pay to upwards of $13-14 per hour, just to compete for the best workers with companies that are paying the $10 California minimum wage.
If we can get as many Democrats as possible elected in a few months, we can fix all of our economic problems very easily. If we keep helping Republicans stay in power, we can’t. It’s really that simple.