Friday, April 22, 2005

It's The Economy, Stupid

The last time a Republican President termed out, a brash, young, Southern pol engineered a successful campaign based on the economy. Clinton pointed to twelve years of Republican budgetary mismanagement and beat the pants off the current President's father.

Clinton, admittedly under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans (who really didn't believe he'd actually take up the dare and beat them over the head with it), managed to eventually balance the budget and bring in a surplus for the first time in most folks' memory. His success in that area, coupled with a pretty healthy economy with low unemployment made the 90's look like a return to the Garden of Eden.

Unfortunately, Bill couldn't keep his zipper up, and old Stone Face, the Democratic nominee saddled with Bill's moral indiscretion, lost to George W. Bush, who promised a return to honor and right behavior.

Now, while I have a whole honking lists of screwups perpetuated by Mr. Bush the Younger, the one that is tearing at my intestines today is the economy. I just filled up the gas tank in my small, yet sturdy Honda Accord. After the usual number of dings, I checked the pump face: "$31.00," it howled at me. The price for regular at Mr. Cho's Mobil in Pasadena is $2.69.9.

Now while the price of fuel for my little putt-putt is an annoyance, I get good enough mileage that, even with the driving I do for my job, I rarely fill up more than once a week. That is just part of the problem. I assume the price of diesel has also risen. That means the big trucks that deliver the stock to the near-by Vons supermarket also are paying more for fuel, which means I will be paying more for groceries for me and the animals. The price of oil affects all segments of the economy, not just fuel for our choice of personal transportation.

The economy itself doesn't look too attractive even without considering the cost of oil. In fact, while inflation doesn't seem to be rising all that alarmingly, wages are still behind what inflation there is. Balance of trade figures seem even more lopsided than usual. The dollar, once equal in value to the Euro (by design), now will only get 0.76 of a Euro.

Apparently I'm not the only citizen concerned about all of this. A recent Washington Post column indicates a great portion of the nation is equally upset by the current trend.

Inflation and interest rates are rising, stock values have plunged, a tank of gas induces sticker shock, and for nearly a year, wages have failed to keep up with the cost of living.

Yet in Washington, the political class has been consumed with the death of a brain-damaged woman in Florida, the ethics of the House majority leader, and the fate of the Senate filibuster. The disconnect between pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans and the preoccupations of their politicians has helped send President Bush's approval ratings on the economy down, while breeding discontent with Congress.

I predict that the first party that remembers Bill Clinton's campaign mantra will win big in 2006. The trick, of course, is to get something in the works NOW while there's still a chance to keep the country from tanking.


Blogger Joel said...

Wow. Just stumbled across your blog. So much more than the drivel that passes for blogging, much of it not even making any sense. Yours is thoughtful. How radical. This post, "It's The Economy, Stupid," along with the one from the day before ("Sometimes It's So Hard") are both "right on." Keep up the good work. (p.s.: enjoyed the later posts, too.)

10:45 AM  

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