Marco Cáceres di Iorio

Republicans Fixed the Economy?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 said that, if elected, he would get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent by the end of 2016. These were his exact words: “I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we’d put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, and perhaps a little lower.” At that time, the unemployment rate in the United States stood at 8.1 percent, so Mr. Romney’s projection seemed rather ambitious.

Well, here we are at the start of 2015, and the unemployment rate has declined to 5.6 percent. President Obama’s economic policies have clearly outperformed what Mr. Romney intended to put in place. Over the course of 58 consecutive months, the Obama economy has created 11.2 million private sector jobs.

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in February 2012 said that, if elected, he would get the price of gasoline down to $2.50 per gallon. These were his exact words: “If you would like to have a national American energy policy, never again bow to a Saudi king and pay $2.50 a gallon. If you want $10 a gallon gasoline, an anti-energy secretary, and in weakness requiring us to depend on foreigners for our energy, Barack Obama should be your candidate.” At the time, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the US was just under $3.70.

Gasoline prices in the US currently average $2.20 a gallon. Hmm, I guess President Obama’s policies have unquestionably outperformed whatever Mr. Gingrich had in mind. Gosh, and even without building the Keystone pipeline or drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).

Presidential candidate Romney in August 2012 laid out a plan to reduce the US budget deficit by $500 billion in four years. At the time, the deficit (for 2011) was at $829 billion. Thus, Mr. Romney’s plan aimed to bring it down to a more manageable $329 billion by 2016.

Under the Obama administration, the US budget deficit dropped to $779 billion in 2012, $600 billion in 2013, and $413 billion in 2014. The drop last year easily surpassed the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) projection (published in April 2014) of $492 billion. At the pace the deficit has been dropping, it’s entirely possible that the US could have a balanced budget by 2016. I guess President Obama’s policies appear to be topping whatever Mr. Romney had planned.

Meanwhile, the US stock market is booming, with the Dow Jones having broken 18,000 in December. The US dollar is strong. A recent report by Deutsche Bank has the dollar reaching parity with the euro by 2017. Oh, and the US economy grew by a whopping 5 percent during the third quarter of last year.

The Republicans have a big problem. In addition to the fact that their most promising candidate for the next presidential election currently seems to be… Mitt (no, really), the US economy is doing very well thank you and is positioned to continue to improve. By 2016, the Democrats will be able to take credit for having fixed the absolutely disastrous economy inherited from the Bush administration.

Dilemma for the Republicans. I mean, how do you run against President Obama’s economic record when the record has been pretty darn good, particularly given the mess he had to clean up. Simple… you take credit for fixing the economy. Here’s what the new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, concocted last week:

After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally seeing some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope. The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress.

Uh, who was it that said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

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