President picks a hell of a time to tout the economy

Friday, September 15, 2006 at 04:54 PM

At his press conference today to build support for "harsh" treatment of detainees and fiddling with the Geneva Convention, our fearless leader said the following:

I don't believe the Democrats are going to take over, because our record on the economy is strong. If the American people would take a step back and realize how effective our policies have been, given the circumstances, they will continue to embrace our philosophy of government. We've overcome recession, attacks, hurricanes, scandals, and the economy is growing -- 4.7 percent unemployment rate. It's been a strong economy.

They really do expect all their voters to be Fox devotees, illiterate, or free marketeer zealots, don't they?

You'd think his timing could have been a little better for that particular spin, given today's headline: Ford Cuts 10,000 More Jobs, 2 Plants?

Or yesterday's headlines, such as this: Ford and UAW extend buyouts to all hourly workers?

and this: Cooling U.S. economy, 'disorderly adjustment' are key risks to Canada: IMF ("As the U.S. appears to falter, much of the rest of the world has picked up steam"),

and this: China More Promising Market for Canadian Exports Than the United States Says Nationwide Opinion Poll.

Or the recent Fox poll of likely voters showing that:

Americans do not think the economy is improving and Democrats are seen as the party that can make it better.

The poll finds about the same number of people say they are better off (38 percent) as say they are worse off than they were four years ago (37 percent). Before the last election, 40 percent said they were better off and 34 percent worse (October 2004).

By a 24-percentage point margin, more people describe their family's financial situation as "doing okay" and having extra money each month (56 percent) rather than as "barely getting by" (32 percent).

Overall, about a third of Americans (35 percent) say they feel like the economy is getting stronger, but a 57 percent majority disagrees.

If Democrats win control of Congress, a plurality thinks the economy will get better (39 percent) rather than worse (29 percent). If Republicans keep control, the numbers reverse: 29 percent think the economy will get better and 37 percent say it will get worse.

And just for the hell of it, Mr. President, maybe you should come clean with the public about the unemployment statistics, which automatically exclude everyone who has given up looking for a job, everyone who is in military service, and everyone in prison.

And while you're at it, maybe level with the folks about the fact that the unemployment statistics make no distinction between regular full-time employment with benefits and part time work, temp work, and full time work at minimum wage without benefits.

In fact, maybe you ought to let on that there's now a huge chunk of your citizens stuck in what people disgustedly call the "permatemp" zombieland, where you are technically employed by a temp agency, even though you work at the same company for years on end, doing exactly what that company's "employees" do except you make less money, have few if any benefits, and get treated ...the way you treat your citizens, Mr. President.

There are estimates that a full one quarter of U.S. jobs now fall into the category of "nonemployee" (permatemp and contractors), which might even be an underestimate ("according to researchers for the government-sponsored Iowa Policy Project Survey of Fringe Benefits and Nonstandard Work").

I assume you're aware of the permtemp problem, Mr. President, since you get such support from the Rand Corporation think tank, and Rand itself has settled a claim of misclassifying some 50-250 people as temps in order to escape paying medical and dental benefits for the employees.