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Ethicalego (Kenneth Brooks) discusses current events from a critical thinking perspective rarely expressed elsewhere


Presidential candidates' campaign spending to confuse facts


By Kenneth Brooks

6/21/12

 

Campaign spending for the 2012 presidential election moves past outrageous to corrupting our representative government. President Barrack Obama's record is there for voters to see. Romney published a 2011 campaign document titled "Believe in America" of his "Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth." Voters should be able to use those sources of information to evaluate the candidates.

Romney's "Believe in America" opening remarks show a strategy to enhance perceptions of his qualifications for office by unfairly tarnishing the record of Obama's administration. He wrote, "Back in the beginning of 2009, we were told by the incoming Obama administration that a massive federal spending package would keep the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent. Eight percent is itself a shocking number, far above what was then the post-war average of 5.6 percent. If only President Obama had been right, for he proceeded to borrow nearly a trillion dollars for his "stimulus." And yet the unemployment rate blew right past 8 percent until it hit the high-water mark of 10.1 percent. At the moment that I am writing-three years into the President's four-year term."

 

Most of Romney's assertions are false. He does not directly claim the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent when Obama assumed office. He plants this number in the mind of voters by comparing instances of unemployment rates under Obama with this meaningless 5.6 percent average of unemployment over 63 years. He does assert the unemployment rate was less than 8 percent when Obama took office saying, "unemployment rate blew right past 8 percent until it hit the high-water mark of 10.1 percent" after Obama approved a trillion dollar stimulus pack.

Romney's remark, "Eight percent is itself a shocking number, far above what was then the post-war average of 5.6 percent" is itself shocking. It reveals mathematical illiteracy of a person that claims superior expertise to set national tax and economic policy. A mean average of 5.6 percent does not mark that rate as the highest or most common for the period. Yearly unemployment rates under President Reagan were 9.69 and 9.61 during this postwar period. An average reports only the balance of values above and below that number.

President George W. Bush signed a 168-billion-U.S.-dollar economic rescue package February 2008 to fend off a possible economic recession. After that, the unemployment rate increased each month from 4.8 percent in February 2008 to 8.2% before Obama took office February 20, 2009 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of unemployment increased to 8.6% in March 2009 a few weeks after Obama took office and before his policies could have affected them. Therefore, Romney's assertion is false that "the unemployment rate blew right past 8 percent" despite Obama's "nearly a trillion dollars for his "stimulus."

Romney likes to compare the status of the economy under Obama to previous times like the postwar era. However, comparing Obama's unemployment rates with a specific president like Reagan would be fairer although still not accurate. President Ronald Reagan faced an unemployment rate of 7.6 when he took office February 1981. His unemployment rate was 9.62 percent in 1982, 9.61 percent in 1983, and 7.52 percent in 1984. The rate had ballooned to over 10 percent during Reagan's first term. Unemployment rates were 7.20, 6.99, 6.19, and 5.51 percent during the respective years of Reagan's second term in office. Not surprisingly, Obama's record shows an identical trend of increasing unemployment rates during the first term before turning around.

Previously, Republicans projected Reagan as their economic authority and the model that all presidential administrations should follow. Why has Romney changed strategy during this presidential campaign to hide Reagan's unemployment rates in a meaningless six-decade national average of 5.6 percent? Perhaps, he acted this way to hide the obvious likenesses between Reagan and Obama's first term results that discredit his negative claims about Obama's first term performance. Similar employment results during Reagan and Obama's first term do not confirm that presidents face comparable economic environments curable by a magic formula. It does confirm that the complex forces of an economy have momentum that needs long reaction times for change. This realty of economic forces contradicts Romney's assertions the economy is immediately amenable to change so that Obama should have cured its problems during his short time in office.

I am disbelieving of someone who tries to convince me to appoint him or her in charge of my affairs with false accusation against my current agent. This is what Republicans and Romney do when they make assertions that conflict with history and fact. Perhaps, many voters do not care how much Republicans falsely disparage Obama's performance and cheer the effort. Nevertheless, they should care that they are the targets of the deception to confuse their ability to decide important personal and national issues. Someone that tells lies to you about another person disrespects you and the other person.

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