A close family member of mine liked the following graphic on Facebook, and, now, as a result, the rest of my night is going to be spent debunking or otherwise providing context for these “facts” as put forward by an organization called RightChange. [According to their website, RightChange, the organization responsible for this graphic, "has grown into a national movement with over 642,000 supporters." Sounds like a pretty solid grassroots organization, right? Well, I still haven't found recent data, but, in 2008, $2.7 million of their $3.8 million budget was provided by one man - Fred Eshelman, the CEO of a large pharmaceutical research firm by the name of Pharmaceutical Product Development. What's more, the organization has a history of telling untruths. Oh, and if you're wondering what Eshelman may have against the federal government, here's some footage of him testifying before a House Subcommittee concerning the fraudulent clinical trials of a drug on which his company worked.]
So, here are my rough thoughts on what I’d like to share with this relative of mine. If I’ve left anything pertinent out, please let me know.
One… According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate is 8.3%. What this doesn’t say, however, is that the unemployment rate has been dropping somewhat steadily since October 2009, when it was 10%. As others have noted, Obama’s stimulus programs didn’t impact unemployment to the degree that we were told that they would, but, given the fact that he had inherited an imploding housing market and a financial crisis the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the Great Depression, I think it’s remarkable that we seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. What’s more, it’s probably worth noting that Romney isn’t offering much when it comes to ideas as to how we stimulate job creation, and reverse this trend.
Two… The “one in three Americans is on welfare” claim seems high, and I can’t find any justification for it online, but I’ll acknowledge that we have a lot of people in this country who require assistance. Not quite two years ago, USA Today ran an article on the growing number of people seeking government aid. Among their findings were the following: the number of Americans on food stamps had doubled since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, and, over that same period, 17% more people enrolled in Medicaid. (And these numbers have clearly grown over the past two years.) There’s no doubt that more people are availing themselves of government anti-poverty programs. It’s also worth noting, however, that these numbers were trending upward since the Clinton administration. In fact, according to CNN, average participation in the food stamp program increased by 63% during Bush’s eight years in office. And, again, I’d like to know what Romney would do differently. Would he stop the food stamp program? My sense is that providing people with limited access to food is more cost effective than dealing with the problems that would arise in a nation full of starving people, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. And, lest anyone think these folks are currently living high on the hog, the average food stamp recipient, as of March 2012, is receiving approximately $133.14 per month in assistance. [note: 46.4 million Americans currently receive food stamps.]
Three… Yes, the debt is growing, but, believe it or not, Obama has increased government spending less than any President since Eisenhower. And the following graphic is from Forbes, by the way, and not some commie blog, like this one… Oh, and if you want to assign blame, here’s something from the Washington Post. “George W. Bush’s major policies increased the debt by more than $5 trillion during his presidency. Obama has increased the debt by less than $1 trillion.” (If you follow that link, there’s a graphic that lays it all out very clearly.)
Five… The RightChange.com graphic says “Democratic Majority” across the top, implying that the following failures are their fault. The only problem is, there isn’t a Democratic majority. Anyone who observes politics, even casually, knows that this isn’t a period in American history in which one party has had free rein to impose its agenda. If anything, our current era will be remembered as one of unprecedented obstructionism, during which the House, controlled by a Republican majority, did everything in its power not to give the Obama administration what could be perceived as legislative “victories,” even if the bills in question were good for the American people, and were first proposed by Republicans.
Six… This family member of mine who is apparently so outraged by the number of people receiving federal aid, happens to be on Medicaid.
I could go on, but I’m tired. My main point is, these are complicated issues, and deserve more attention than Mr. Eshelman, and the “grassroots” organization which owns, are willing to give them. And I don’t say this as a fan of the President, who thinks that he can do no wrong. Clearly, he deserves much of the blame for where we are today. I just think it’s disingenuous to suggest that these things were the work of a “Democratic Majority” on an America-hating rampage. The truth is, the economic collapse was a long time coming, and it likely had much more to do with financial deregulation, and anti-labor legislation passed years ago than it did with Barack Obama. Sadly, though, Eshelman and company aren’t interested in getting at the truth. They’re just interested in getting a slightly more business-friendly man in office, and they’re willing to twist the facts, and cherry pick their statistics in order to see that accomplished.