- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 5, 2003

Republicans say Democrats are running a substantial political risk by preaching doom and gloom about the economy and President Bush’s record on job growth.

“They’re praying for failure,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the Senate Budget Committee. “Pessimism and failure usually don’t go over very well.”

With the news of rising unemployment last week, every major Democratic official, including most of the Democrats running for president, blasted Mr. Bush. Unemployment reached a nine-year high of 6.4 percent last quarter.

“This Fourth of July, 9.4 million unemployed Americans don’t need to see any more political fireworks from the administration. They need to see real job creation,” said Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the current economy the “perfect storm,” and House Democrats called it the “worst record since Herbert Hoover,” the president best known for preceding the Great Depression.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and White House aspirant, issued a release saying, “The only person in this country who deserves to be laid off is George W. Bush.”

But several conservatives said Democrats run a risk by spinning too much rhetoric out of bad news.

Jonathan Collegio of Americans for Tax Reform warned against reading too much into the just-released unemployment figures. Unemployment rates usually lag behind other indicators such as the stock market, which has been rising recently, he said.

Of the stock market gains, Mr. Collegio said, “A lot of that has to do with the president’s tax cut on dividends and capital gains.”

Democrats say, however, that unemployment is endangering the economy’s effort to rebound and that their concern is far more than political rhetoric.

“No president since Hoover has actually lost jobs over the course of a four-year term,” according to a report released by Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

“In order to restore sufficient jobs to the American economy to avoid that distinction, the Bush administration will have to add an average of 151,000 jobs per month between now and October 2004.

That would be a “stark reversal from the average monthly job loss of 83,000” since Mr. Bush took office, the Democrats say.

Many Democrats compare Mr. Bush’s situation today to that of his father when he lost re-election in 1992 during a poor economy after enjoying dizzying popularity because of the first Persian Gulf war victory.

But, Mr. Collegio said, there are a number of differences.

“In the last election, 70 percent of voters owned stock,” he said, a considerable increase from 1992. That makes voters much more sophisticated about the economy and its natural fluctuations.

In addition, he said, most economists agree that Mr. Bush inherited a faltering economy.

“If a president takes over a recession two months into his presidency, these voters are going to see through all the doom and gloom.”

Democrats “are walking down a platform of pessimism, hoping voters are not as sophisticated as they are,” Mr. Collegio said. “And they’re crossing their fingers that the economy stays bad for the next year and a half, which is a kind of sick and twisted way for politics to work.”

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