‘It’s the economy, stupid’

Published 10:28 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

The above headline was the byline of the 1992 Clinton-Gore presidential campaign against the first George Bush. In the 1980s, the economy boomed.

However, rather than controlling government spending, the big spenders in Washington convinced the president to raise tax rates. This slowed economic growth and created a sluggish economy, hence the campaign slogan.

I reflected on this recently when I read that the economy had only created 38,000 jobs in May.

On a national basis, that is an average of about 12 new jobs per county, or about one new job for every 9,000 people. Therefore, the economy should be the greatest issue in this year’s election.

As my uncle told me years ago, “People will generally vote their wallet,” meaning that overwhelmingly the instinct of most voters is to vote for the candidate that they believe will best improve their economic situation.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is a perfect example. His supporters fell into two categories; students who perceived that they would not have to pay back student loans and underemployed workers who understood that a Clinton presidency would simply be an extension of the current economic doldrums (with little understanding of how the economy works.)

The president wants you to believe that the economy is doing fine. He speaks with pride that unemployment is currently five percent nationally. I wish that were true.

However, if one honestly looks at what is really happening they would be very concerned.

The unemployment figure simply counts those who are looking for employment. Many have stopped looking because there are limited jobs available.

When they no longer qualify for unemployment benefits they are not counted.

A better gauge of the situation is the number of people who are working. We are currently at the lowest rate of employment in over 50 years.

Regrettably, many of those who lost jobs are now working part-time or at wage levels lower than previously. Additionally, there are far more who had been working that have applied for and now are receiving disability.

Another factor that bears proof that the economy is faltering on the edge is that many more are receiving government assistance for food through what used to be called food stamps but now is handled with EBT cards.

If the unemployment rate was honestly five percent, would the number receiving food assistance be drastically more than a decade ago?

We all have grown sick of hearing of the short comings of each of the major party candidates, which both have. However, this year’s election should not be decided by who has the fewest flaws, but rather where do we want our national economy to go.

Should we be satisfied with an economy that is burdening employers, forcing them to reduce employment or seek other solutions to regulations that stifle employing our citizens on American soil?

Or would we be wiser to create a stronger business environment by cutting back on the thousands and thousands of regulations created in the last eight years?

Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.