November 28, 2003
Economy Springs Big Surprise
by Donald G. Mashburn

The U.S. economy just turned in its best quarter in almost two decades – 19 years, to be exact. The stout 7.2 percent annual growth rate was a stunning surprise, especially for an economy that had been staggering like a drunk in a windstorm.

Consumers showed they liked having some of their tax money to spend on things they need and want – things like appliances, cars, clothes and homes.

Good news? Well, yes, for most folks. But to listen to some top Democrats, we’re still in the economic slide that started several months before Bill Clinton left office.

Democrats eagerly claimed credit for the unforeseen “bubble economy” of the late 1990s, but now refuse to give any credit to President George W. Bush or his policies for the good economic news. Economic recovery, it seems, loses its bipartisan flavor under a Republican president.

Remember how big Sen. Tom Daschle and other Democrats were on “bipartisanship” before voters relegated them to minority status in Congress? Now, bipartisanship is nowhere to be seen on economic issues or appointments of federal judges.

Most Democrats opposed the tax cuts that had a real chance to help the wobbly economy. Now, faced with the facts that parts of the tax cuts have kicked in and the economy is showing real strength, it’s hard for Democrats to admit that leaving us taxpayers with a bit more of our money has been beneficial.

They either misrepresent the good economic reports, or they don’t understand them. Just think! Our economy just sprinted through its strongest quarter of economic growth in almost 20 years! But Democrats doggedly – maybe that should be “yellow-doggedly” – refuse to admit recent tax cuts had anything to do with it.

Of course, working people – not to mention bankers, merchants and local governments – rejoiced to hear of the booming annual growth rate. This is one impressive record, one that would have had Bill Clinton claiming supernatural powers.

But Democrats are reluctant to admit that tax cuts are good – for either the taxpayer or the economy. Sen. Daschle set the tone in January, when he talked down the adverse effects of Sept. 11, and claimed that the president’s tax cuts “probably made the recession worse.”

He said it with a straight face, ignoring the fact that full benefits of the tax cuts won’t be realized for years, because of delays built into the legislation. But facts are stubborn things. The tax rebates and other taxpayer benefits have boosted the economy, just as predicted.

Facts, however, don’t faze the nine Democrats vying for their Party’s presidential nomination who, like Daschle, still oppose the idea of easing the burden on taxpayers. Each of them has a plan to roll back portions of tax cuts already enacted.

Our nation’s economy needs all the good news it can get. In spite of the strong third-quarter report, we’re not out of the woods yet. The country still needs more jobs, and an economy strong enough for us to feel those jobs will be there in the future.

Payrolls of U.S. businesses did grow by 57,000 in September, the first jump in jobs in eight months. And the unemployment rate steadied, but was still at 6.1 percent in September. Also, unemployment claims were down.

So, all in all, the news was good. But you couldn’t tell it by the Democrats’ long-faced responses. It will be interesting to see if they keep up the anti-Bush “the-glass-ain’t-full-yet” diatribe as the 2004 elections near.

They might want to remember Jimmy Carter’s gloomy remarks about a “crisis of confidence” in his 1979 “national malaise” speech that helped Ronald Reagan win all but six states, and 10 times as many electoral votes as Carter.

And perhaps they’ll recall that what set Reagan apart from the inept Carter were the Gipper’s hope-inspiring words and his brimming confidence in this greatest and freest of nations.