Just the Facts
Republicans can’t disagree with the president’s latest speech on the economy.
By Peter FennOct. 3, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. EDT+ More USNEWS & WORLD REPORT THOMAS JEFFERSON STREET BLOG
This is for my Republican friends: What would you disagree with in Obama’s Northwestern University economic speech?
Would it be that unemployment has gone from 10 percent in 2009 to 6.1 percent? (Oh, and since his speech yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the creation of another 248,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate is 5.9 percent, the lowest in six years.)
Would it be that the economy has created 10 million jobs, the longest uninterrupted stretch in U.S. history? Maybe that America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and every other developed country combined?
[GALLERY: Cartoons on the Economy]
Would it be that the American manufacturing sector, including car sales, is back, and 700,000 manufacturing jobs have been created?
Would it be that the stock market has doubled since 2009, and that health care increases have slowed dramatically, while the number of uninsured Americans has dropped by 26 percent?
OK, I could go on with more statistics, more facts, but what Obama really was saying is that, despite this progress, we have more to do to help the middle class, which has not felt the improvements, has not seen family incomes rise, and has not been a big part of the upturn.
So here is where I really want my Republican friends to weigh in: the solutions.
How about rebuilding infrastructure here at home? Repairing roads, bridges, and investing in light rail? How about reform that cuts taxes on businesses here at home and also closes wasteful loopholes? How about high quality preschool, enrolling 6 million children in the next decade? How about making it easier for first time homebuyers to purchase a home, speeding up construction and the economic recovery?
[SEE: Cartoons about the Republican Party]
And, of course, there are issues like comprehensive immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and ensuring equal pay for equal work for women, which most Republicans have already voted against. Fine, we should debate those and bring them before the voters.
But my central point is that politics and government is about solving these problems, not being obstructionists and producing roadblocks. It is about producing compromises that move the economy forward. Fundamentally, right now, it is about raising up the middle class, whose wages have been stagnant since 1999, according to the Washington Post. In fact, the top 1 percent took in 95 percent of the income gains during the recovery.
For Republicans and Democrats, it should be about solutions that lift up working families. That is really what Americans want to hear leading up to this November’s elections. Obama’s speech hit it. What is the Republican Party’s response?