Opinion Columns & Blogs

Now what?

Congratulations to the Republican Party on their stunning victories in the House, Senate and Governorships albeit under dubious circumstances. My previous column, “A mockery of democracy,” explains my skepticism; nevertheless, we now must reap what we’ve sown.

Exit polls showed that voters were disappointed with the economy and were pessimistic about its future. As smart as American voters are, I can only assume they are familiar with the current state of the economy, where the economy was in 2009 and what the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and business community are predicting for the future.

I’ve discussed this in relative detail in my other column “A real life experiment,” but it is well worth repeating. You can read my previous columns simply by doing an internet search using the search criteria “Alan Cheah and Sierra Star.”

I will quickly summarize.

2009 - When Obama took office Today
Dow Jonesaverage at 6,547 Dow Jonesaverage at 17,634
Unemploymentrate over 10% Unemploymentat 5.8%
Losing 800,000 jobsper monthin Feb Jobs increasesaveraging 200,000per month
$5.35 million barrelsof oil produced/day $9 millionbarrels/day
Inflation at2.7% Inflation at1.7%
Deficit at$1.43 trillion Deficit cut by2/3 to$483 billion
Gross DomesticProduct (GDP)$14.4 trillion Gross DomesticProduct (GDP)$16 trillion

Let me add that gas is below $3/gallon. Bloomberg says “Manufacturing in U.S. Accelerates More Than Forecast.” 80,000 clean energy jobs were created in 2013 ( http://tinyurl.com/80-000-jobs) and more to come in the future. The CBO projects Medicare spending will decrease due to the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. And finally, the richest Americans are richer than ever.

What about the future? I’ve written this before. According to the latest quarterly economic forecast from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI), consumer spending and business investment should help increase U.S. economic growth in 2014 and 2015. They expect significant growth in housing, manufacturing, and high tech. The Institute for Supply Management said…

“Business seems to be picking-up as fuel prices drop. More disposable income at the C store level where many of our products are sold.” (Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products)

“Warehouse and multi-family construction seems to be continuing strong.” (Fabricated Metal Products)

“We are seeing shipments up, year-over-year, in the 8 to10 percent range for last couple of months. This is good.” (Apparel, Leather & Allied Products)

“Outlook is very good. Demand seems to be growing.” (Paper Products)

“Our search continues for good machinists and electrical engineers.” (Machinery)

“Overall, orders are at the strongest point this year.” (Miscellaneous Manufacturing)

Is this really a cause for disappointment and pessimism – certainly not? So, why this disconnect among smart voters? It’s probably the same reason why people like the Affordable Care Act but hate Obamacare (they are the same thing); why Medicaid expansion greatly expands health coverage for them but they vote for Republican Governors who reject it; why the majority favor raising the minimum wage and legalizing marijuana but they vote for representatives that oppose it. Why the economy is growing yet they put in power the party that destroyed it in the first place. American voters aren’t stupid but apparently can been misled.

Smart voters should ask smart questions? When Mitch McConnell says we need the Keystone XL pipeline for energy independence ask why, since Obama has about doubled our oil production from 5 million to 9 million barrels per day and we have an oil glut? Ask why, since all XL pipeline oil will be exported? Ask why, since gas is below $3 per gallon? When McConnell says the jobs created will be stunning, ask why 42,000 jobs over 3 years then maybe only 50 jobs thereafter is considered stunning when 80,000 jobs alone were logged from clean energy jobs in 2013 and clean energy jobs will last for many years to come? Demand that Republicans state hard economic numbers they plan to achieve that show significant improvement over what Obama administration has already done? Demand a timeline and am explicit policy plan to get there?

It’s been two weeks and no grand economic strategy. There is no need. They know the momentum from Obama’s economy will continue to improve in 2015 and 2016 and they will take credit for it because it happened under their watch. That’s why what’s on the table are: tax cuts; deregulation; cutting Social Security, Medicare and social programs; sue and impeach over immigration, government shutdowns, resist climate change progress; and basically, looking out for the interest of rich and corporate donors.