Obama’s “Our plan” pitch doesn’t work
August 1, 2012 Leave a comment
With many buzzworthy stories washing over news audiences lately, President Obama’s attempt to claim Bill Clinton’s economic record has not garnered as much attention as it ought. Nonetheless, ABC dutifully reported the incredible credit grab last Friday, dubbing it “Our Plan.” As in when the President declared, ““We tried our plan–and it worked.””
Reading the story (linked above), you’ll find the writers were a less than thrilled at poking a hole in “Hope and Change.” The following gem conveys their reluctance to call the President out on his silly move:
This pitch on occasion has meant that President Obama at times sounds as if he’s claiming some ownership of the Clinton economy – referring to “our plan” — which has allowed Republicans an opening to act as if the crowing he’s engaged in about the Clinton economy is out-of-touch braggadocio about the current economy.
Can you find the several qualifying phrases the writers deploy to effectively neuter their own critique? They further blunt the impact of their work by twice calling the story’s developments merely “interesting.” The repeated use of this ho-hum descriptor either indicates grade school student authorship, or else is a euphemism for harsher terms the journalists can’t bring themselves to say. Or maybe both. You can decide what is more likely.
Whatever the case may be, the President’s team at Health and Human Services haven’t helped the “Our Plan” claims. Just a couple of weeks ago, they watered down the Clinton-era welfare reform work requirements. This signature achievement, only adopted at the prodding of a Republican Congress, has been generally acknowledged as a policy success. But with the new HHS changes, we can expect entitlement culture to crowd out any productive behaviors the reform had brought. Like the greatly expanded food stamp program, this makes for a significant departure from the Clinton policy environment.
Now let’s look at “Our Plan” by the numbers. On one level the numbers game is disingenuous. Obama’s main claim to Clinton’s tax policy hinges solely on the top marginal rate, which he wants to boost from 35 to 39.6 percent. Any revenue increase, even if dynamically scored, will only be a drop in the deficit bucket. A host of other variables outside of the control of “Our Plan” will hold more sway over the economy. But if the game is to be played, there’s a pretty good case to be made against the Democrats.
That 22 million jobs came into being under Clinton’s two terms has been echoed far and wide by Democrat acolytes. Never mind that Obama’s net created jobs won’t be positive by election day. But what about unemployment rates? They’re readily available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Combining Clinton’s eight full years and Obama’s first three, the average annual unemployment rate under “Our Plan” is 6.4 percent. How much does this cream Bush’s average rate by? It’s the other way around. At 5.3 percent, Dubya beats “Our Plan” by over a point. Not that Mitt Romney is running as Bush anyway.
Taking things a step further, let’s attribute the unemployment numbers to Congress instead. The average annual rate was an ultra low 5.0 percent from 1995-2006, the time Republicans had at least a tenuous hold on both houses. By comparison, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s Congress pulled 7.3 percent from 2007-2010. Whether looking at Congress or the White House, the employment rate tends to be healthy over the broad sweep of recent Republican tenures. It’s those pesky times of transition to and from Democrat control that correlate to a high rate of joblessness.
When President Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention this September, will he be pitching the strained reasoning of “Our Plan?” As with previously tried campaign themes, I doubt it will have the legs to carry Democrats forward. Maybe Mr. Clinton will be singing a different song.