Tag Archives: GOP

Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOP

Consider the following fact: The last time a Republican president created an average of 1 million jobs a year over the course of his presidency was nearly three decades ago, under Ronald Reagan. When the the 2016 election comes around, a full 44 percent of voters will have entered the workforceafter that period of time. Then consider that Barack Obama has created 7.35 million jobs since taking office, and will almost certainly cross the million-per-year threshold. And that, for many Americans, the last time the economy was working for them was under Bill Clinton.

As the chart below (using data from the Economic Policy Institute) shows, the last time Americans at the bottom of the income distribution had a raise was during the sustained employment growth under Bill Clinton.

The conclusion? If Democrats want to win the White House, they need to promote a progressive, pro-jobs agenda.

I’ve previously discussed the rather large body of research suggesting that not only does the economy perform better under Democrats, it tends toperform better for everyone under Democrats. People of color do far better in terms of employment, incarceration and income growth when a Democrat is in office. The incomes of the poorest tend to increase more rapidly as well. Both effects are likely tied to two major policies: First, Democrats tend to preside over lower unemployment rates; and, second, they are far more likely to raise the minimum wage. There are other factors at work, of course: I’ve noted how market conditioning (things like regulatory policy) can change outcomes as well. But another major factor is that the key to increasing the bargaining power of workers and creating a more racially just society is jobs. And progressive policy creates jobs.

There are several specific factors that explain this.

(1) Liberal governments tend to invest more money in infrastructure and education, both of which bolster growth.

(2) While conservative governments try to maximize growth for the rich by reining in inflation, progressives benefit everyone by reducing unemployment.

(3) Conservatives spend a large amount of their political capital reducing labor force participation among gays, people of color and women. Conservatives oppose policies that would help women balance work and family responsibilities, openly sabotage their economies to discriminate against gays, and pursue policies that overwhelmingly harm people of color. By doing this, conservative governments shut out talent and competition, in all probability harming economic growth: One study finds that about one-fifth of the increase in productivity growth between 1960 and 2008 can be explained by the increase in talent from women and people of color getting jobs they were previously excluded from.

(4) Conservatives pursue policies that increase inequality, which studies suggest can also slow growth.

(5) Conservatives are less queasy about the influence of money on politics, fostering cronyism that can undermine growth.

(6) A weak safety net means that fewer Americans can take entrepreneurial risk, when entrepreneurship is a key factor in bolstering growth.

(7) By creating a winner-take-all economy, conservative governance reduces social trust necessary for growth.

(8) By promoting war and violence abroad, and a bloated military at home, conservative governments reduce the money available for clean energy, healthcare, education and tax cuts for the middle class, which create more jobs. Matt Yglesias also argues it could increase oil shocks, thereby harming growth.

(9) By promoting an oversized and unregulated financial system, conservative governments make crisis more likely. Studies also suggest that when the financial sector gets too large it starts to reduce growth.

(10) By reducing upward mobility, conservative governments reduce growth by leaving millions of opportunity-less youth mired in poverty.

(11) Conservatives are less amenable to more open immigration policies, when immigration boosts growth.

Whichever of these factors cause conservative governments to be less effective, the differences are stark. The chart below shows the average job growth under each president over the last 75 years.

Bloomberg examined private sector job growth between January 1961 and April 2012. Over that period, Republicans have held the Presidency for 28 years and Democrats for 23. Republican presidents created 71,000 jobs per month, while Democratic presidents created 150,000. In total, Democrats created 42 million jobs, compared to Republicans 24 million.

All of this means that Hillary Clinton should embrace jobs and argue that progressive policies can unleash economic growth. She should argue that the country needs a proactive government working with the free market to best promote the interests of all Americans, not just the rich. As Bob Moser notes in the American Prospect, the most successful Democratic candidates have been those who embraced economic populism rather than a fuzzy centrism. He points to Gary Peters, the only freshman Democratic Senator, who ran a populist campaign that targeted the Kochs for their plutocratic policies. Moser notes that three of unabashed populist progressives — Jeanne Shaheen, Jeff Merkley and Al Franken — not only won their elections but also won white working class voters at a time when Democrats nationally lost them by 30 percentage points. (Peters lost the white working class, but only 47 percent to 48 percent.)

Dorian Warren is an associate professor at Columbia and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute who is leading “Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All,” ​which seeks to put jobs at the center of the political agenda. He tells Salon via e-mail that a jobs-centered Presidential campaign could be a political winner: “It is time to embrace a simple but achievable idea: that government should take action to create millions of good, new jobs in emerging sectors and ensure these jobs are open and accessible to all, guarantee decent wages and benefits for all who want to work, and ensure equity in the labor market for women and people of color.”

Warren cites research by Celinda Lake showing that three core messages resonate with Americans across the political spectrum: infrastructure spending, government investment in green energy and government creating jobs in high unemployment communities, particularly communities of color. As the chart below shows, progressive policies are popular with the Rising American Electorate (African Americans, Hispanics, millennials, and unmarried women) who veteran pollster Stanley Greenberg notes will be more than half of the electorate in 2016.

The Lake memo also notes that turnout is key to a progressive victory. In 2014, 34.5 percent of the Rising American Electorate who voted Obama for Obama’s re-election in 2012 stayed home. Mobilizing these voters will be key.

If Clinton is the nominee, she should emphasize the track record of Democrats creating and sustaining jobs. Instead of running away from Obama’s achievements should build on them. She should focus her message on a strong public sector being necessary for a strong private sector. By setting the rules for fair play, the government ensures that those who get ahead do so by creating value, rather than extracting it. By investing in the next generation, government gives private companies an educated and highly trained workforce. By ensuring paid sick leave, childcare and universal pre-k, the government allows women to bring their skills to creating prosperity. The difference between conservative and progressive governance is simple: one benefits a small elite while the other promotes widespread prosperity.

This piece originally appeared on Salon. 

The GOP and Tea Party Are Heading for a Split

The conventional wisdom right now is that, although there appears to be a rift in the Republican party, it’s not going to break-up. The Slatepitchy proposition is that Republicans disagree about “tactics not goals.” To quote Jonathan Chait,

Mainstream Republicans and the tea party have fallen out almost entirely over political tactics. Tea partiers and conventional Republicans alike want to abolish Obamacare, cut taxes, eliminate Dodd-Frank, stop any regulation of carbon emissions, and impose cuts to social programs for the poor.

Matthew Yglesias writes in Slate essentially the same thing as Bernstein in Salon, “The tensions between Ted Cruz and John Boehner and Peter King and Mitch McConnell and whomever are all about tactics.”

But this overstates the case: the Tea Party is a nationalistic fringe right-wing party and will inevitably have to split with the GOP.

I realize the World Net Daily is a crazy website, but I think this op-ed by Joseph Farrah summarizes my argument here, and provides definitive proof that the Tea Party and GOP are never, ever, ever getting back together:

There are groups and individuals who would like to constrict the tea-party movement to fiscal issues.

That would be a huge mistake.

It’s not just about government spending, even though it was government spending that precipitated the unprecedented, spontaneous, grass-roots uprising.

More precisely, it’s about the law of the land and the will of the people.

It’s about a nation whose government has lost its moorings.

Remember the list of policies that Yglesias and Chait think the Tea Party and Moderate Republicans agree on? Maybe they should consult TeaParty.org where these fifteen non-negotiables are dilineated:

1. Illegal aliens are here illegally.

2. Pro-domestic employment is indispensable.

3. A strong military is essential.

4. Special interests must be eliminated.

5. Gun ownership is sacred.

6. Government must be downsized.

7. The national budget must be balanced.

8. Deficit spending must end.

9. Bailout and stimulus plans are illegal.

10. Reducing personal income taxes is a must.

11. Reducing business income taxes is mandatory.

12. Political offices must be available to average citizens.

13. Intrusive government must be stopped.

14. English as our core language is required.

15. Traditional family values are encouraged.

Those goals aren’t at all in line with the policies pushed forward by the GOP. They are not the goals of a major political party, but rather a fringe nationalistic movement. In fact, similar nationalist movements are cropping up all over Europe, fueled by the influx of immigration, especially of Muslims.  Such movements are not historically unique either.

We can see a similar movement in Britain in the 1960s. when Britain’s Conservative Party faced the same struggle the GOP face today. In 1964, Peter Griffiths, a Tory, won a seat with the slogan: “If you want a n*gger for a neighbour, vote Labour.” In 1966, when the moderate Conservative party lost, A.K. Chesterton (winner of the creepiest lips award), along with John Tyndall decided that they would be better off splitting off from the Tories and forming their own National Front, which later evolved into the BNP.

The Conservatives worked to create a more center-right party and worked, haltingly, to rid itself of racist past and towards a more centrist agenda. In contrast, the BNP is pro-life, pro-capital punishment,  a strictly anti-immigration pose, reject any government spending that doesn’t serve British interests, teach the British heritage in schools, support stand your ground laws and believe all races are equal, but they just shouldn’t mingle. Sound familiar? Try to see if you can tell the difference between a Tea Party manifesto and the BNP manifesto.

Viewed in the light or the BNP, the Tea Party’s odd desire to maintain farm subsidies while cutting aid to the poor makes sense: any government program which supports the “other” is bad. Programs to support middle-class (read: white) farmers or homeowners are fine, supporting the poor hispanic and black population is terrible. The goal isn’t to shrink government, it’s to cleanse government. This also helps explain the Tea Party fascination with birtherism, strange theories about neo-colonialism, and they are absolutely terrified of the U.N.

The Tea Party has all of the hallmarks of a nationalist xenophobic (dare I say Fascist) movement:  89% white, 58% keep a gun in their house, a faction believe that violence  against the government is justified, most believe America is a country in decline, they are anti-immigrant, authoritarian, opposed to social progress, anti-gay and anti-abortion. overwhelmingly support the death penalty, really dislike Muslims, very much dislike immigrants (to the point of militarizing the border) and they’re really, really racist. Obviously, the Tea Party is not a single cohesive group, but it’s clear that the anti-immigrant wing holds major influence in the coalition of crazy. Sinclair Lewis summed up the situation a century ago, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

While the “Tea Party” sentiment has existed for a long time in the Republican party, but it has remained dormant, largely placated by the race-baiting language of Republican candidates. Reagan promised to cut benefits for the welfare queens (black women) and imprison crack addicts (black men). The recent rise of the Tea Party was ignited by three things:

1. The failure of the George Bush Presidency

The Republican has courted racial votes for a long-time, but recently has failed to deliver what they desire. George Bush’s push for immigration reform, his pivot toward India and China, embrace of compassionate conservatism and focus towards nation-building abroad all frustrated the nationalist right.

2. The election of Barack Obama

The election of Obama and his re-election provided both racial animus (s is it any wonder that the enemy of the Tea Party is not a liberal, but rather an immigrant black Muslim), but also the hopelessness of trusting the establishment. The reason for the National Front splitting with the Tories is disturbingly prescient: A.K. Chesterton was convinced that a purer party would  more successfully compete in national elections.

3. The destruction of the Middle Class

The middle class got screwed in 2008, and they saw their government support the wealthiest and the poorest and leave the middle-class out in the cold. If you look at the economic policies of the Tea Party, it’s broadly similar to that of the BNP – government support isn’t inherently bad, it’s bad if it goes to support immigrants, poor or blacks. Thus, the bailout of banks was not bad but the bailout of poor homeowners (who were, in the Conservative narrative, because of the Community Reinvestment Act were primarily minority) ignited the anger and fear.

If America was a parliamentary democracy (as it should be), the current split would have happened a long time ago. We would have four parties: a nationalistic “Tea Party,” a center-right “Rockefeller Republican” party, a center-left “New Democratic” party and a green party. Instead, we have two parties that . On the left, the green party has been so terrified of the right it grasped for the Clintons,  and Kerrys (and the center-lefties sat through McGovern and Dukakis). The right has had to grapple with something far more difficult. Middle-class and working-class nationalists have watched Republican presidents work towards immigration reform (to win the votes of Hispanics), send jobs overseas, work tirelessly to export American ideas to the Middle East and give up the fight on social issues. Now, they also have something else none of the other far-right movements in America have had, the mobilization capacity to shut down the government. The GOP has tried to placate the Tea Party while also bringing the party into the 21st century. How long will it be until the Tea Party decides, like A.K. Chesterton, that they’d be better off on their own? How far will the GOP go to win over the votes of disenchanted Southerners, afraid of the increase of secularism, the infiltration of foreign peoples and races into their society and the decline of the white middle class? To quote the Gospel of Mark, “A house is divided against itself cannot stand.”