Now that eGhazi! is fading into the background, Hillary Clinton has a bigger vastly more important problem to fix. First, to put it simply, she and her circle are a known commodity that much of the Democratic base, and many in the media who are sympathetic to that base, are not exactly "in love" with. Sure, she has many supporters on the left. I have been and continue to be one of those supporters. But Hillary supporters would be foolish to ignore that her detractors are many and have legitimate complaints.
Among the legitimate complaints is that the circle of people she has around her is full of people who are perceived as arrogant pricks. Many of these Clinton insider individuals were mentioned by name in recent discussions during the height of the eGhazi! media frenzy. For example, the populist writer William Greider specifically mentioned Larry Summers. Mother Jones' David Corn specifically mentioned Lanny Davis.
About Lanny Davis, Corn wrote:
His reality denial discredited him—and, by extension, the White House.
By refusing to concede any errors—even in the face of clear evidence—he was undermining White House credibility, generating ill will, and, perhaps worse, signaling that the Clintons didn't care about the truth. Yeah, we know, this aide responded. But, he added, the Clintons were keen on Davis. They appreciated his moxie.
Corn cites similar behavior from Hillary's 2008 run:
As Davis had accomplished a decade earlier, Hillary's emissaries to the media alienated many reporters with their odd combo of thin-skinnedness and fact-stretching aggression. Did her bad relations with the media undo her campaign? Probably not. But it sure didn't help.
Despite the fact that newspapers around the country were focusing on the the real threat to our national security caused by 47 idiotic Republican senators (link), much of the rest of the media is still breathlessly focused on Hillary Clinton's e-mails. With so much potential distraction, you would think that an experienced politician like Hillary could find a way to get the e-mail story to end. But there is an important lesson that Hillary needs to learn: IOOKTDEIYANHC (It's only ok to delete e-mails if you are not Hillary Clinton).
If Hillary was a Republican, she could delete emails or destroy hard drives and still be free of media attention. Dick Cheney deleted e-mails about all sorts of criminal activity (like starting a war over oil and revealing the identity of a CIA agent) and got away scott free. (link) Incidentally, although Cheney was the focus of investigations, the missing e-mails included other White House offices:
The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday by a congressional Democrat.
Mitt Romney went so far as to destroy hard drives. Follow me over the orange squiggle to find out what happened there.
Fighting for social security is one way to appeal to older white male voters, a key demographic that Democrats perennially lose, often by very wide margins. One thing near and dear to the heart of these older white men is retirement. And social security is the only reason most people can afford to retire. At least that is how Ross Eisenbrey phrased it here, based on retirement plans vs social security income charts. (More charts available here.)
As mentioned by Bernie sanders here, lifting the income cap on payments to social security would easily make it possible to not only save social security but even expand it. Expanding social security, perhaps coupled with new pension plan protections, would make it possible for more older workers to retire. This should create job openings, since most of the jobs in the recovery have gone to workers 55 and older. (See discussion here.)
In his diary about Romney losing key backers (link), Markos emphasized the fact that Governor Chris Christie, among other high profile supporters, seems to be fleeing from Romney and toward President Obama. I have circled that part of the picture for emphasis:
But Markos seems to be missing the more important symbolism in that same picture. The more important symbolism is that President Obama is being the dependable leader, someone we can lean on in a crisis. I have circled that part of the picture for emphasis:
Keepemhonest has a great diary here about how Paul Ryan and others sabotaged the US economy. But there is more to the story.
Part I: Ryan does a 180 from previous stimulus statements to block President Obama then asks for stimulus money after it passes in spite of him
To follow up on the plans made on January 20, 2009, this is what Paul Ryan said about President Obama's plans in July 2010 while sitting next to fellow saboteur Jeb Hensarling. He called President Obama's plan a failed neo-Keynsian experiment:
At first blush, the above just sounds like typical Paul Ryan rhetoric. But he was all for Keynsian style stimulus back in 2002:
Construction is one of the key industries that has not done well in the recovery. (See my previous diary here.) Housing construction rose 15% in September, to an annual rate of 872,000, the fastest since July 2008. Application for building permits jumped 12% to an annual rate of 894,000. (link) Added to the low foreclosure number this is a great sign for the economy and one we should share with everyone.
I am thrilled that President Obama performed so outstandingly during the debate. But after the debate I watched MSNBC's poll of undecided voters from the University of Ohio. Several of them thought that Mitt Romney did better on jobs and leaned toward him because of that. President Obama needs to respond to Romney's false claims about the decline in median income and he needs to explain how he can help create not just more jobs but also good-paying jobs. His main answer last night was that he wants to do the same thing for other manufacturers that he did for the automobile industry. That answer just isn't enough.
Yesterday, in a diary here, I pointed out some potential areas of discussion, mainly around the American Jobs Act, which President Obama largely skipped over last night, and around raising the minimum wage. I also think the President should talk about lot more about Republican obstruction.
I am not insisting that the President do exactly as I suggest. But I saying that I think his reply to Romney's criticism of the jobs being created was his weakest part of the debate. I know he can do better.
Jobs is the most important category for most voters. Especially with unemployment falling to 7.8% in September, President Obama can claim success in the jobs creation department. Probably the most potent line of attack remaining for Governor Romney is to attack the quality of the jobs that have been created. Many of them are part-time jobs (link) and median income has fallen. Here is the most recent BLS chart showing recent changes in hourly wages:
In the last presidential debate, Governor Romney claimed that median income declined $4,300 under President Obama. Based on Census Bureau reports, Factcheck.org puts the decline in median household income at $2,492, even after adjusting for inflation.
The main problem with the Factcheck.org number is that it does not include the context, which includes a precipitous drop in median income in 2008. The recent Census Bureau report also showed that median household income after inflation fell to $50,054, 8 percent lower than in 2007. (link) That is a $4004.32 in median household income since 2007. If we subtract the $2492 Factcheck.org says happened during President Obama's first term, $1512.32 of that decline happened in 2008 before President Obama took office. That parallels the steep decline in jobs during 2008:
Back when Mitt Romney was telling the truth about what he would do to create jobs, it was noted that his plans were like the Bush years except on steroids. Once he and Ryan are forced to own those previous plans, and they will be, these five points will kill them.
1. Improvement in unemployment numbers
When talking about the economy, the trendline is what is most important. There are different ways to judge the trendlines during a president's time in office. One of the fairest ways is to start one year after the president's term begins and end one year after his term is over. This allows time for one's policies to show an impact, and also shows how the president's policies affect his successor before the successor's policies have had a chance to make an impact. From the BLS we get this chart of unemployment numbers starting with January 2002, one year after President Bush took office:
As you can see, between January 2002 and January 2010, President Bush gained 4 whole percentage points, while President Obama has lowered unemployment by 1.9 percentage points thus far.
It is no accident that President Obama has such a positive trend. The almost immediate effect of the ARRA on the number of initial unemployment claims is very striking. Steve Benen at the Maddowblog has this graph showing the effect of the stimulus on initial unemployment claims:
2. Private Sector jobs growth:
Private sector jobs growth is usually what Republicans want to focus on most since they believe there should be fewer government jobs. But when compared with the jobs creation numbers of previous presidents, the private sector grew faster in the first three years of the Obama administration than it did in three of the previous five administrations — the exception being Bill Clinton’s administrations, when private sector growth was more rapid. In both of George W. Bush’s terms as well as in the first three years of the George H. W. Bush administration, though, the private sector grew more slowly. (link)
Point 1: The Economic Ditch from Q4 2008 was mega-deep
First, it is important to note that the economic ditch that the Bush version of trickle-down tax cuts left us with was actually a whole lot deeper than most of us knew in 2009 when President Obama was planning the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (pdf link here). As excellently noted by John Perr here, experts vastly underestimated the economic downturn of the fourth quarter of 2008 and it wasn't until around August of 2011 that the true magnitude of that downturn became clear.
Perr's quote from The Economist explains just how much deeper that economic ditch was than we previously thought:
The White House looked at the economic situation, sized up Congress, and took its shot. Unfortunately, the situation was far more dire than anyone in the administration or in Congress supposed.
Output in the third and fourth quarters fell by 3.7% and 8.9%, respectively, not at 0.5% and 3.8% as believed at the time. Employment was also falling much faster than estimated. Some 820,000 jobs were lost in January, rather than the 598,000 then reported. In the three months prior to the passage of stimulus, the economy cut loose 2.2m workers, not 1.8m. In January, total employment was already 1m workers below the level shown in the official data.
Here is the graph Perr shared to show how much worse Q4 2008 was than previously thought:
In 2009, Mitt Romney went on every major network in the US and said his plan in MA should be the model for a national plan. At the time he thought President Obama would go for a public option and did not know that Obamacare would be modelled on the Massachusetts plan:
Bad news from the GI doctor.... I have a tumor in my small intestine that they need to operate on with abdominal "hands on" surgery. I will be meeting with the surgeon within the week and know more ...