Sunday, October 10, 2004

Kerry, Edwards, & Peter Pan

If you believe enough, anything can come true. “All you need is a little pixie dust.”

Most adults can suspend their disbelief, like when we watch movies. My five-year-old seems to be the embodiment of the willing suspension of disbelief. Most Democrats are like that, perhaps that is why they prefer a nanny-state - at heart the really are so child-like. Republicans, unfortunately, are not like that - they suffer from these pesky things we call facts.

A Democrat neighbor told me, “well...there’s your facts and then there’s my facts.” How silly of me: I’ve always labored under the foolish presumption that there were facts and then there were interpretations of the facts. I have become so disheartened this campaign season by the selective use of facts, the use of ‘my facts instead of yours’, and mostly by the willing suspension of disbelief. I readily admit that my party has misrepresented some facts in defining John Kerry’s record, but nowhere near the amount of pixie dust the DNC has tossed around.

Consider the issue of jobs. Kerry talks about Bush and the loss of manufacturing jobs, but neglects to mention that the decline of that sector started 3 years before Bush took office and ignores the offsetting gains in industries such as health care, construction, government, business management and internet technologies. Kerry never mentions the fact that unemployment is at a lower level than Bill Clinton’s best year. He claims that the new jobs are lower paying “burger flipping jobs”, but the fact is the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the exact opposite. BLS shows that “employment has recently increased by more than 1 million in categories that on average paid above the median earnings of $541 per week, while employment was virtually unchanged in categories paying below the median.”

Kerry wants to focus on manufacturing jobs that have been “outsourced”. You should know that George W. Bush has never, ever, ever said “sending jobs overseas makes sense for America.” That claim comes from The Economic Report of the President and the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers, neither of which are signed by Bush, but rather by the economists working for him. Furthermore, despite what Kerry wants you to think, outsourcing is pixie dust. Charles Schultze, a Democratic economist working for the Brookings Institution, who was budget director for President Lyndon Johnson and chairman of President Jimmy Carter’s Council of Economic Advisers, stated “there is nothing in the data to suggest that large increases in...offshoring could have played a major role in explaining America’s job performance in recent years.” He goes on to say, “in the short run, an increase in offshoring reduces U.S. job growth...but in the long run it improves the standard of living, increases real wages, and increases the country’s economic growth.” The Chairman of Princeton University’s department of economics and a Federal Reserve governor estimates that the total jobs lost to outsourcing is about one percent. Kerry’s plan for outsourcing would “end job-killing tax loopholes” and claims Bush is a corporate puppet for protecting “tax breaks favoring corporations that move their headquarters overseas.” Pamela Olson is an expert on tax policy for the Treasury Department and explains how Kerry’s plan will harm US employment by encouraging multi-nationals to not do business in the US. You see, the corporate tax rate of China is 11.3%, Britain’s is 18.2%, 15.1% in Mexico, and only 0.2% in Indonesia, while in the US in 2002 the rate was over 30%. Kerry has a pixie dust plan which even Democratic economists say will not change outsourcing, be difficult to enforce, and would increase the competitive edge non-American companies already have.

Kerry has also sprinkled pixie dust on the recent overtime initiative. Kerry cites the labor-funded Economic Policy Institute study rather than using the Department of Labor statistics. The chiefs of several major labor unions sit on the EPI’s board of directors. On January 20, 2004, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao testified in the Senate: “1.3 million workers will gain overtime” while the EPI claims 8 million will lose it. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Passage of the initiative will mean labor bosses, union leaders, managers, and those who have the discretionary power to either choose to work overtime or force another to do so will become ineligible for OT benefits.

I’m sure you’ve heard that Bush has given us “the largest deficit in history”. John Kerry said so on February 26th. He’d be right if he weren’t oversimplifying a complex issue. Kerry is talking deficit in dollars not as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, which is the way economists test deficit. When stated without pixie dust, the greatest deficit in history was in 1943 at 30% of GDP. Recently, under Reagan and Bush, Sr. we saw higher deficits six times ranging from 4.5 to 6 % of GDP. The deficit for 2004 under George W. Bush is 4.5% of GDP and it was considerably lower in the previous two years. Moreover, most economists believe the deficit is remarkably good considering the events of those three years.

Kerry can not even speak on traditional Democratic territory without having to resort to pixie dust. Education funding under George W. Bush is higher than it was under Bill Clinton. It is a fact. By 2004 the Department of Ed’s budget grew by 58% with another 5% planned for 2005. Bush “cuts key education programs” by increasing programs for special ed by 5.9% and low-income children by 9.8%? Bush “slashes jobs training by 24%” by moving $250 million from high school shop classes to technical and career training at community colleges. Only pixie dust could make one believe that high school shop prepares one for the modern job market.

It is a strain, even for pixie dust, to cloud the issue of health care in the US, but that will not stop John Kerry. We do have uninsured people here, but that is not the salient fact. The Census Bureau found 45 million without health insurance. BlueCross/BlueShield further analyzed the Bureau’s raw data. Of the uninsured, 16% earn over $75,000 a year, 33% earn over $50,000 a year, another 33% qualify for Medicaid or other government-sponsored coverage but do not enroll (often because they do not want to do the paperwork), another 6 million have coverage that lapses for a few months each year. The few million remaining are the working poor who simply can not afford it. The government spends 35 billion annually to cover the ‘uncovered’, but the bulk funds emergency care rather than insurance! In the 1990s, politicians regulated the equitability of health insurance by dictating what and who must be covered and for how much. A Ferrarri could be leased in New Jersey for less than the cost of family coverage there. Bush’s tax credit doesn’t provide enough to get good coverage and gives money to those who already have it. Kerry’s ‘Rube Goldberg’ plan involves more regulations and less choice for the patient.

In a rare pixie-dust moment, John Kerry explained that “there is no question that abuses of our legal system have hurt companies and individuals who are acting responsibly....lawsuits should be the last, not the first, line of defense.” Kerry believes he and Edwards share a credibility with the litigation lobby which they can leverage into “medical-liability reform and meaningful and enactable malpractice-suit relief.” On July 15th alone, in Philadelphia, trial lawyers shelled out $250,000 at one fundraising Kerry event. They believe in Kerry’s plan which includes (among other things) certificates of merit, ruling out punitive damages, and a ‘three strikes’ provision. Pennsylvania uses certificates of merit and suffers one of the worst malpractice crises. John Edwards stated such certificates “would not make much difference” in 1995. Malpractice suits, unlike product liability, are not greatly impacted by punitive damages. The strike out for frivolous claims is by far the best. The pixie-dust court definition of “frivolous” is so narrow that any threat from it is simply frivolous.

All John Kerry needs to do battle with the evil conservative George W. Bush is the courage to stand up and speak out, the Lost Boys of the DNC, and a little pixie dust to give his loyal followers that willing suspension of disbelief to go to the polls and ask no questions. John Kerry: “second star to the” left and straight on till November 2nd.

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