But the Washington Post goes to see what's what in America's heartland
. It ain't pretty:
The contrast between the pulse Canton's economy is starting to feel on the high end and the stagnation painfully evident in the lower tiers points out a significant national trend: After three years of fits and starts, the economy is revving back to life, but at least so far, its fruits have gone mainly to those who least need them
"If you have investments already, and if you have a job already, the last 12 to 18 months have been very nice to you," said Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution. "The stock market has done well. You can refinance your mortgage. You can finance your new cars at very favorable rates, and prices haven't been rising.
"But if you are looking for a new job or had the misfortune of losing a job, for those folks, life is much, much tougher. It's just so damned hard to get employment."
The uneven gains of the economy in the past months have already become political fodder for Democrats seeking to unseat President Bush. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) never misses an opportunity to rail against the "Bush-league recovery" for "the people in the corporate boardroom."
Political speeches aside, the widely divergent views on the economy's health expressed by the residents of Canton could speak volumes for Bush's standing in such industrial swing states as Ohio. It is a truism that no Republican has ever gone to the White House without winning the Buckeye State, and Stark County -- short on party loyalties and long on political independence -- has long been a bellwether. In the 2000 election, Bush beat Democrat Al Gore here, 48.9 percent to 47.1 percent, a margin only slightly closer than the statewide tally.
Nationally, the two-tiered economic gains appear to be playing out on a grand scale. Holiday sales at Neiman Marcus department stores were up nearly 13 percent over the holidays compared with the previous year. Tiffany's sales jumped 16 percent, as the affluent rewarded themselves for their upturn. Dana Telsey, chief retail analyst at Bear, Stearns & Co., calls it "self-gifting."
Yet Wal-Mart, which serves a less glamorous clientele, posted gains of only 3.9 percent, barely meeting analysts' expectations.
On Wall Street, bonuses will be up 20 to 30 percent from last year, according to industry experts. Alan G. Hevesi, the New York state comptroller, recently said he expects Wall Street bonuses to total $10.7 billion for 2003, an average of $66,800 per employee.
But for hourly workers elsewhere, average wages last year rose by 26 cents, or 1.7 percent, the Labor Department said last week.
The media and the GOP (are they really that different?) keep reminding us that the economy is doing so great and maybe the Democrats won't be able to use it against Bush.
Their economy is not the same as most Americans'. It's no wonder the punditry is so out of touch. Most don't bother to go to places like Canton, OH to observe the reality of the Bush tax.
This suits me just fine. I just hope they're not surprised when Shrub gets a pink slip and a bus ticket to Crawford shoved up his ass this November, 'cause the Bush economy ain't all that. And Americans are not happy about it.