If It’s The Economy…

The “Big Lie” has worked so well with the GOP base (polls show some 58% of Republicans believe that Trump really won the election) that they’ve extended the tactic. If James Carville’s famous 1992 motto–“It’s the Economy, Stupid” was right, then lying to an astonishingly credulous  base  about the economic performance of the Biden Administration should be a no-brainer.

Granted, the criticism bears virtually no relationship to reality, as a slew of economists routinely document and as Jennifer Rubin recently pointed out in the Washington Post. But facts are clearly irrelevant to Republican party “leaders” who insist–in the face of millions of deaths worldwide– that COVID is a hoax. Also that California’s wildfires were set by Jewish space lasers, and that Democrats eat small children.

The 64-Thousand-Dollar question, of course (young people, Google the reference…) is whether Carville’s insight was right. Do verifiable economic facts on the ground influence voters, or is misinformation being sold by politicians with an ax to grind a more potent motivator?

Rubin begins by reminding readers of the success of the stimulus.

Quite simply, stimulus packages kept the economy and workers afloat during the pandemic, setting the stage for an economic surge when employees could return to work. The Post reports, “The U.S. economic recovery from the covid pandemic was the strongest of any of the big Western economies. That is in large part thanks to the multiple rounds of government stimulus that totaled at least $5.2 trillion.”

Without a single Republican vote, Biden passed an economic plan that, coupled with the Federal Reserve’s near-zero interest rate policy, proved to be precisely the recipe needed to help stave off a long-term recession. The Post reports, “The Biden stimulus pushed the bank accounts of even the lowest-income Americans to unexpected heights. On average, they had more than twice as much in their savings accounts as they did when the pandemic began.”

The effects of the stimulus are only a part of the story. The job market–responding to pent-up demand–is more favorable than it has been in a long time. Unemployment is 4.2 percent, and according to The Wall Street Journal, applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, have trended near five-decade lows. Jobless claims are at the lowest level since 1969.

Perhaps the best news is that workers — especially low-wage workers — have been the biggest beneficiaries of this surprisingly robust economy. Rubin quotes Steven Ratner, who noted that, as the economy rebounded from the pandemic,

the size of wage increases began to recover, especially for less-well-off Americans, in part because of increases by some states in their minimum wages. The many Covid-related federal stimulus programs helped push the growth rates in pay for many workers to levels not seen since the early 2000s. Thanks in part to these programs, wages are growing fastest for the bottom 25 percent of workers.

Rubin notes that this data contradicts Republican’s longtime insistence that wage increases mean fewer jobs–an insistence increasingly at odds with that pesky thing called “evidence.” Not only that,  the past year has seen some notable successes in unionizing, allowing American workers to demand both higher wages and better working conditions.

If Rubin and multiple economists are correct, what accounts for the evidently widespread belief that economic times are bad? Paul Krugman asks–and answers–that question.

Overall the economic picture looks pretty good — indeed, in many ways this looks like the best economic recovery in many decades.

Yet consumers appear to be feeling very downbeat — or at least that’s what they tell surveys like the famous Michigan Survey of Consumers. And this perception of a bad economy is clearly weighing on President Biden’s approval rating. Which raises the question: Are consumers right? Is this a bad economy despite data showing it as very good? And if it really isn’t a bad economy, why does the public say it is?…

One clue is that there’s an incredible amount of partisan skew in the responses. Republicans say, bizarrely, that current economic conditions are much worse than they were in March 2009, when the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month…

Another clue is that you get very different answers when you ask people “How are you doing?” rather than “How is the economy doing?” The Langer Consumer Confidence Index asks people separately about the national economy — where their assessment is dismal — and about their personal financial situation, where their rating is high by historical standards.

So–the midterm elections will give us a clue to the proper interpretation of Carville’s axiom. Will people vote their personal economic situations? Or will they vote the faux reality peddled by their political cult?

I guess we’ll find out.


  1. As virtually everyone on this blog has been saying – in one way or another – for years, the Republican party is compelled to lie because (1) their corporate/banking sponsors tell them to and (2) their corporate/banking sponsors have eliminated any “for the people” agenda at their behest. That group of economic thugs, therefore, will NOT vote for any Democratic initiative no matter what. They are being paid to expect the sheep to believe the lies even as their constituent volume decreases.

    Gerrymandering and voter suppression are part and parcel to the great lie. Demonizing everything resembling progress from Democrats is part and parcel to the big lies. Attacking Democrats has become their ONLY strategy.

    Yes. And yet… 58% of registered Republicans follow this rubbish. There’s your 75 million fools. There will be no changing that number. These idiots will just continue to be idiots, because that’s what loyalty to lies is all about. They will slavishly adhere to the lies, cheating and stupidity, because that is who they are. The midterms? The somnolent Democratic voter will, as usual, stay home from voting and the sheep will believe the lies and vote in record numbers.

    And some wonder why we cynics think our democratic republic is doomed.

  2. The position that the right-wingnuts understand, when it comes to what wins elections, is to foment outrage and anger because they know that their constituents are driven to the polls by extreme emotional reaction. The mistake that the liberals continue to make is to rely on facts and reason to win elections. They still do not realize that people are not motivated to vote by rational thinking. Where is the outrage about the end of American democracy, the insurgency, or the failure of Republican administrations to enact policies that benefit the “Average Hoosier”? The suppression of the right to vote and to have those votes fairly and accurately counted? Where is the righteous indignation about the failure of government to address the collapse of our environment, or the failure to prepare for the suffering that will follow? What about the hopelessly corrupt government at all levels?
    Unless truth and reason can generate enough anger and frustration to drive reasonable people to the polls, there will be no change and we will lose our democratic republic for at least a generation.

  3. Well; I got a big old $35 monthly increase in Social Security but the Indiana Republican Senate cut all public employee retirees retirement amounts last year and I am losing $20.11 monthly with their action. So I am $14.89 monthly richer this year; can this be considered an economic gain in today’s economy as prices on everything go up weekly? And I saw a news report that Elon Musk became $34 BILLION richer yesterday. Almost daily I receive political mailings, E-mails, surveys and petitions begging for money. How do I split my $14.89 to help us get out of this economic disparity?

    Vern is right, “And some wonder why we cynics think our democratic republic is doomed.”

  4. Here is a common problem as I see it when it comes to quoting economic measures of any kind – the data you pick generally supports the story you are telling.

    We have already concluded, as Vernon notes, the media and government are in the pockets of the oligarchy. Therefore, everything produced by them is propaganda. Everyone on this blog can identify the crappola on Fox News and Breitbart. However, not everybody can identify the crappola being spewed by NBC News or MSNBC, or even CNN.

    You choose your media based on confirmation bias. WaPo is state department and CIA trash. The NY Times is state department and deep state trash.

    God blessed us with critical thinking skills. That’s what is missing at all levels of communication.

    By the way, I tried to find out who owns Gannett newspapers since they are still listed as the “owners of record” for my local newspaper. I am pretty good at researching on the internet, but I could not find the answer. As best I could tell, it was swallowed up by Softbank, a Japanese multinational conglomerate even though USA Today claims it’s an “American newspaper.”

    Wikipedia hasn’t been updated since 2019.

    Here’s the ultimate question, why do you trust any media institution today?

  5. How does that old saying go? “Facts are offensive to those who have taken refuge in fantasy.”

  6. Yes, it still is the economy and yes, we are still stupid (maybe even much more stupid than 1992).

  7. Don’t ask the “professional class” about the economy – they’re doing fine. As usual, the press and pundits ignore the invisible workers and poor. And guess what, being ignored, they just won’t vote thinking it will make no difference…

  8. If you live primarily in the realm of the internet, I can appreciate your fixation on “the oligarchy “ … Smekens. I see it differently.

    There is for sure an incentivized public/private partnership in our capital economy, and within that, dynamic tension that seeks control of higher ground. If you are looking for evil, you will find it. If you are looking for what is good, I find it in greater abundance.

    For example, I know folk who rant about duplication in government. What I see is strategic redundancy. Who is ranting about State and Federal declaration of disaster destroying large swaths of a local community when redundant resources on a regional level communicates reasonably well with matched resources locally overwhelmed on the ground to accelerate recovery? When you don’t need it, you rant duplication and wasteful spending … when you lose your house and all that you once owned, the same person rants: “what took you so long”.

    Smekens … I suspect you and I have something in common. Neither of us will be caught walking into a Tommy Hilfiger to buy 70% markups for the privilege of serving them as a walking billboard. That is an identity crisis on hormones.

    But we are flip side opposite each other on our views of the same coin in regards to our imperfect capital economy fueled by a well Intentioned public/private partnership.

    AND I do not insubordinate your level of intelligence just because your views differ from mine.

  9. The problem with people’s perception of the economy is higher prices, which is their evidence of a “bad” economy. This is manufactured inflation. Business profits are high and the stock market is high, so there is no reason to raise prices other than businesses want to. Hurting Biden is a plus. From what I can see, the new Republicans could care less about hurting anyone – including their base – to achieve power. I wouldn’t be surprised if prices fell right after they win back either the House or the Senate, if they do.

  10. Joanne, I find it extremely disturbing that the IN Senate cut state retiree benefits while IN is sitting on an absurdly high “rainy day” fund. If needing to cut retiree benefits is not a “rainy day,” I don’t know what is. Just more lack of empathy from that side of the aisle.

  11. It really is the economy whether we are stupid or brilliant but per Piketty and others the underlying and biggest domestic economic problem we have is wage and wealth inequality. Thus when we talk of being the richest country in the world we talk of total wealth rather than its distribution, and without fair distribution we are talking about a drag on aggregagate demand, which per Keynes is a real millstone on the neck of economic growth. (confession – I am a Keynesian, having been converted during my quest for an undergraduate degree in economics.)

    At issue via today’s topic is not how the economy is doing but rather what the polity’s perception of how it is doing and how that translates into their vote. I adopt James’s reasoning and conclusions reached in his contribution. The economy is doing well thanks to Biden’s FDR-like intervention, but how it is perceived not to be doing well is a matter of superior messaging which treat facts as fancy and fancy as facts – and successfully!

    We already have a factual package that deserves a Democratic sweep, but millions who are influenced by Fox and Republican propaganda are not into facts; they are more comfortable with incendiary phantasies featuring those terrible baby-eating and election-stealing socialists who control the Democratic Party. Perhaps our DNCC should hire psychologists to write up a countervailing view of how the economy is doing on a level more likely to influence the vote of those who can still be reached by reason, if such there be.

  12. I agree that people view the economy as “bad” because of inflation. Biden keeps saying it’s the problems with the back up of the supply chain. Who is creating that back up? Individual consumers.

    It’s too bad they can’t triage the container ships i.e. make essential products move first like the computer chips for cars perhaps, or protective equipment for health care workers.

    It saddens me to realize that the increased wages of many are being offset by the inflation of prices. It’s disheartening to go to the grocery store. A coke at a restaurant now costs 3 dollars. I used to pay that amount for a marguerita.

    The GOP will blame higher wages as the source of inflation. They will create a narrative that blames President Biden’s “socialist” agenda for the inflation.

    I am so sorry JoAnn that the state is so stingy with your pension. That’s the problem when one works for a state monopolized by the GOP. I hope that you have all that you need and that you are not going without the essentials- food, clothing, shelter, and yes, some chocolate.

    I suspect that many voters will be affected more by their personal economic status than by the economy as a whole. Inflation affects their pocket books. We will probably see an increase in interest rates very soon. That also will not make individuals happy. No doubt when that happens Wall Street will have a negative reaction as well.

    I saw on Good News Network that a retired CEO of an oil company has created a nonprofit to cap the millions of uncapped oil wells in our country. The uncapped wells are releasing methane into the air. I wonder how many donors he has and if any of the oil companies have donated to his nonprofit. They should.

  13. The two branches of the GOP (Give us Our Power), the country club branch and the grange branch, want two entire differently things. The country club branch live on systemic welfare, wealth redistributed up from the creators of it, workers, and the grange branch need jobs at any pay so are willing to work as long as they can return to the 50s, and drag the rest of the country back with them.

    The CCB (country club branch) keep the GB (grange branch, formerly the KKK branch) entertained using big media by telling them that they deserve what they want but are being robbed of it by big city liberal elites, AKA the majority, and big pharma to keep them in a state of pliable fog.

    China and Russia of course give covert support to the GOP because in this getting too small for all of the people world, a weakened competitor would be easy pickings for the oligarchs there.

  14. Pete – WADR – it is time for us to stop bunching people into groups and calling them names. That is why we are so divided. “Garage Branch” – a polite way of saying “deplorables”? You are living what got us to where we are…people are more complex than just some arbitrary “identity”. It is called stereotyping..,..

  15. Wallflower; some back story on our loss of retirement funds. In November 2017 we retirees received notification from Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) that beginning January 2018 our checks would be disbursed by State Street Bank Retiree Services. We were required to reregister IF we wanted to continue receiving our retirement checks. Contacting my State Representative who stated he knew nothing about this and had a staff member contact me to tell me they did NOT privatize the disbursement of checks, they had merely changed to State Street Bank from the company who had been disbursing our checks for three years; we had not been notified about that change from direct PERF disbursement. I researched our Public Employee Retirement Fund and found the budget contained $37 or $39 BILLION DOLLARS. I have not been able to find information on the budget amount since 2017. If it were possible to be surprised by any under-the-table transactions Republicans in this state carry out, I would find this questionable. It is just Indiana Republican business-as-usual.

    Robin R; thank you for your concern, my income keeps my utility and cable bills paid and food on my table, also gas and repairs for my 26 year old Pontiac Sunfire. Of course being 84, deaf and disabled, my life doesn’t allow much socializing and no need for a classy wardrobe I feel blessed that I am not a burden on my children. People talk about moving out of this state or this country; where would they go to find the living any easier, safer from the Pandemic or safe from Trump’s Republicans?

  16. When I was 25 years old and bought my first house with a mortgage with a 16% rate, I could tell you about a whacked economy. In 2000 when .com bubble busted after Y2K, I could see the things ground to a halt. We were in good shape and that was the year I remodeled my kitchen. I was able to almost instantly hire a contractor who’s references said “he walked on water”. I was able to negotiate a deal on cabinets that was amazing. At the same time, there were no new buildings going up city wide. Almost all construction ground to halt. I started to understand what recession and the economic cycles were all about.

    From 2008 until the Pandemic recovery, I can tell you things had been on a upward trajectory, but a snails pace. As has been mentioned before a lot of that pain might have been caused by Republican sabotage under Obama.

    When the Pandemic hit and a fall off of the economic cliff, I did some reading to know that while everyone is saying “this is unprecedented” and “there is no historical equivalent”, the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic caused a recession that only lasted 8 months. Most of you will remember the recovery was called “The Roaring 20’s”. This time around the recession officially lasted 3 months!

    Things are booming. New construction is booming. Remodeling is booming. I called three fence companies to get quotes. One would put me on the wait list to get a quote, one never called back, but the third one gave me a quote, but they are backed up 14 weeks out to even start the work. Fast food places are closing dining rooms, not because of COVID, but they have not figured out that the $10 an hour they want to pay will not get a worker in the door.

    People that are engaged in the work force have no lack of work, along with rising wages. The economy is booming, but it is not without it’s pain points. At the same time, there are some unscrupulous companies that are reaping record profits, just because they can and part of that has been the results of the constant Republican de-regulation drumbeat.

    We are in the middle of an economic boom, coupled with a massive disinformation campaign. Too bad so many people want to believe what they are told rather than what they can see.

    Maybe a hundred years from now this era will be know as the “great disinformation schism”.

  17. So, when I go to the gym, and they always have one of their TV’s showing Faux News, I see there all sorts of junk
    about how poorly the economy is doing, and I believe they are being true to their Faux nick-name, but others, of course,
    buy into it unquestionably. Faux News is, perhaps, the biggest terrorist orgaization in the country, assiduously working to
    undermine faith in the gov’t.

  18. Maybe I’m being a little too optimistic but… there was a 66.8% turn out in the last election. Of that, under 50% voted Republican and of those somewhat over half believe all the BS. That’s less than 20%. So maybe at some point, there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel?

  19. My vote? Neither. I suspect if a person cites the economy, they are just using it as an excuse. They are really voting for the party that best matches their worldview. If you are saddled with prejudices–against science, education, immigrants, other religions, other skin colours, women, other sexual orientations, etc.–then you are substantially more likely to vote Republican. Of course the Democrats have people within their umbrella harbouring these idiotic prejudices, too, but it’s far fewer, by percentage.

    Hillary may have been skewered for the “basket of deplorables” comment, but she wasn’t wrong.

  20. A coup d’etat,

    It happens much more than one would think. Could it happen here? A number of retired generals seem to think so. They point to 2024, They believe That will be the time of some sort of coup. When cooperation fails, when There are no negotiations in good faith, The die is being cast, The handwriting is on the wall, How could one get around the inability to come to an agreement? The Democrats have been beating around the bush quite a bit lately talking about executive orders to make things happen, things that They couldn’t do without a 60 volt majority!

    What kind of executive order could accomplish these things? The only one I could think of, is a declaration of martial law by the president of the United States. During that time period, The president could Change the Supreme Court, He/She, definitely could suspend habeas corpus. That would be a big deal allowing him or her to reconstitute the Supreme Court. Also, The president could address The gerrymandering issue, Also, rules could be put in place concerning voting rights equality, wage equality, including elevating the poorest of us to a more equitable life. I’m not saying this will absolutely positively happen, but I am saying that the odds of it happening either by a democratic president or a Republican president is rising everyday.

    As I mentioned at the onset of this comment, coup d’etat is Quite prevalent in the past 100 years. Abraham Lincoln basically said if you don’t like the form of government we have, then change it! Well, I don’t think he was talking about martial law, but, to change the form of government, one Would have to institute a massive martial law, not a minimal one. something that could actually change the form of government to a true democracy instead of using the electoral college.

    Certain times and situations need a particular type of leader that is willing to upset the apple cart for a more equitable country, but if That doesn’t happen with a progressive and compassionate coup d’etat, You will be sure to have the Other side of the coin Make the country a very inhospitable place for many segments of society!

  21. Repubs will vote however their venal leadership tells them to; they already swallow the lies put out by the tRUMP crowd. They “do their own research”, but as we know from at least one of our fellows in this forum, doing your own research tends to reinforce what one already believes, even if it’s vague and goofy, since cherry-picking our “facts” is difficult to avoid.

    JoAnn: I’m a fellow retired state employee, but I don’t recall having to sign up again to continue receiving pension payments; not sure that would be kosher, legally speaking. Of course, we made so much money working for mostly-republican administrations, that we don’t need that meager pension, do we?

  22. Max; do you remember being required to register in November 2017 with VOYASUPPORT@VOYAPLANS.COM to begin receiving your checks in January 2018? My reregistration requirement information came by E-mail as did my verification notice. This change in registration was required; not optional, it required a password and their assigned verification code to access your account for information.

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