In 1980 and 1992, only 3% of the American labor force drew disability benefits from the government. Today it is 6%. The number of workers qualifying for disability since the recession ended in 2009 has grown twice as fast as private employment.See there? The reason so so many people are voting for Barack Obama in this election is that they're not hungry enough. In the wake of the Great Recession. When the first sub-eight-percent unemployment numbers have come in in for-freaking-ever, itself a dismally modest improvement that proved so shocking to conservatives that they have all but convinced themselves that it must be a government plot. Why, if we let those 18.5 million people starve, they'd be much more pissed off—and then they'd go out and vote for Mitt Romney!
How would Presidents Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush have fared on their Election Day if 40% of the Americans who were unemployed had instead qualified for disability benefits? How would voters have reacted in 1980 or 1992 if food-stamp benefits had grown by 65% instead of an average of less than 25% during the first four years of their administrations?
During the past four years, the Obama administration's aggressive promotion of the food-stamp program has increased the number of recipients by 18.5 million. Do these people feel the same level of discontent about economic conditions as the rest of the voting population?
This is, mind you, the exact philosophy behind Romney's infamous "47 percent" comments: those damn poor people all have it too good, what with social programs designed to allow them to not die in the streets, and of course people like that aren't going to vote for the good, responsible Republicans who want to bring back "dying on the streets" as this century's hot new thing. It does not dawn on Phil Gramm, who is a remarkable idiot by any standards, that the increases in food stamps and other government assistance are the obvious and expected results of a prolonged and utterly devastating economic downturn—no, it must be because we are just being too damn generous these days. This is the world according to Phil Gramm. He then goes on to complain that Obama hasn't fixed all the various things Phil Gramm and his fellow financial wizards have screwed up in the last decade, so clearly it's time to pass the reins to Mitt Romney so Phil Gramm and his fellow financial wizards can get back to screwing it up worse.
Sweet merciful crap, will this guy ever just shut the hell up already? Economics-wise, he's History's Greatest Monster. He and his wife Wendy were prime shakers behind energy deregulation—leading directly to the Enron scandal and collapse (Wendy both helped deregulate Enron and then went to work for them at a tidy salary, ka-ching, because that is how the Phil Gramm household operates.) His deregulation penchant also brought us all the unregulated glory of credit default swaps, leading Time magazine to call him out as one of the 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis. Oh, and then he fled from the senate to a sweetheart lobbyist position at UBS, just in time for UBS to wreck itself mightily in the subprime mortgage business, get called out for intentionally cheating customers, and be probed for assisting client money laundering. If there's one guy who knows how to cause epic, nation-shattering economic fiascos, it's Phil Gramm. If you told me he was one of the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse, my only reply would be to wonder if maybe he wasn't actually two or three of them.
That pedigree seems to be precisely why the Wall Street Journal editorial page still wants his opinions on things. Any Wall Street wizard can be wrong—and how! Not every captain of the financial industry can be wrong so very, very often, to such devastating effect, and still be able to declare with a straight face that all these troubles today are caused by The Poors.
Wait—yes they can. That's exactly what they all do. It's the only damn reason the Wall Street Journal editorial page even exists.
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