Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Looking to make lemons out of lemonade...

With the economy continuing to expand, consumer spending still strong and the Dow near its all-time highs, you'd figure the Washington Post would sooner or later get around to saying something on the economy... and, given their bitter opposition to Bush's tax cuts, you'd probably be safe to conclude that the Post would never give credit to them for stimulating the economy.... and, given their general opposition to pretty much everything Bush has done on the economic front, you'd probably be safe in concluding that their commentary on the economy would be negative in nature.

And that is what the Post has done, in an editorial today.

Rather than focus on the positives, for example, that the drop in the unemployment rate means millions of more people have jobs than would otherwise have been the case... or that the economy is so strong that the hike in gas prices following Katrina was but a minor bump in the road, and not 'the economic disaster' the pessimists at the Post thought it would be... or the fact that federal tax collections are higher than they have ever been... or that the strong Christmas sales indicates the consumers have a generally positive outlook on the economy (you don't spend a lot on presents when you fear losing your job)... well, they focus on what they deem to be dark underside of the economy (and, by implications, Bush's economic policies).

They complain that less-educated workers haven't done as well as educated workers (somehow they ignore basic economics which holds that the more skill one has, the more they can get paid). They complain that the people whose brains contribute to the growing economy (white-collar workers) fare better than those who have only their muscles to contribute (blue-collar workers). They complain that workers with more specialized skills (aircraft workers) did better than food-store workers whose job requirements merely require that they know the difference between frozen peas and fresh tomatoes.

They complain that workers aren't seeing much of an increase in take-home pay because companies are paying more in benefits (a 5.1% increase in the value of benefits received by the average civilian worker, an amount that outpaced inflation), which leaves less to pay out in straight pay raises.... but note that they don't mention that cutting taxes would provide more of a boost in the dollar amount of a workers paycheck than would a typical 3.5% pay raise.... nor do they mention that cutting corporate taxes would leave companies with a lot more money to send their employees way. They complain about globalization contributing to wage stagnation... but don't mention the lower prices and better products made available to the American public as a result.

And dumping all over the economy not being enough for them, they even manage to criticize Bush's tax cuts. In their twisted minds, because Bush cut taxes on capital, it means that workers are facing tax hikes. This is a warped twisting of the facts. First, no one is facing a tax hike. I know the Post would like to see taxes hiked in order to pay for the government spending so dear to their collective hearts, but that isn't in the cards. Second, they criticize the cuts in taxes on capital because "capital has increased its share of the proceeds from the economy"... without acknowledging how many millions of Americans benefit because of these tax cuts. Everybody who owns stock, whether directly or through a benefit plan, has benefitted. The pensions of millions of Americans are in better shape than they would otherwise be as a result of those tax cuts. Those tax cuts have contributed to lower interest rates, benefitting the millions of Americans who have borrowed to buy a house or used their home equity to borrow at lower rates than would otherwise be possible. And more disingenuous is their implication - by criticizing tax cuts on capital - that had those taxes not been cut, then the taxes for everybody else would have been... for, as they well know, they would have opposed those tax cuts as well.

Perhaps the best sign that the economy is really doing quite well is that the Post editorial is so lame, that they are so clearly struggling to find something to complain about...