<blockquote>Commentary: The Economy: Advantage Bush?<br>Clinton won reelection in '96 with similar conditions <br><br>As President George W. Bush gears up for his reelection bid, is the economic glass half empty or half full? Certainly it's easy for political partisans to put either a negative or positive spin on the latest statistics. There are 1.1 million fewer jobs than there were at the beginning of 2001, when Bush took office. But gross domestic product growth is running at a 4.8% rate, productivity growth is strong, and compared with the long-term economic drag that most forecasters expected after the terrorist attacks and the stock market plunge, today's economic environment looks positively rosy.<br><br>Perhaps a better, and more informative, comparison is with 1996, the last time an incumbent President ran for reelection. Like this one, the election of 1996, which pitted Bill Clinton against Bob Dole, came several years into a recovery. And the 1996 campaign, like today's, was fought against a backdrop of middle-class anxiety over job cuts and outsourcing, at least in its early stages.<br><br>The good news for Bush: On many of the key variables that voters care about, the economy looks uncannily like it did in the summer of 1996, a year when the incumbent was reelected. July's unemployment rate was 5.5%, exactly what it was in July, 1996. Similarly, consumer inflation is running at 3%, the same as July, 1996. Consumer confidence, housing affordability, unemployment claims -- all are roughly at 1996 levels.<br><br>Which isn't to say that the economy is identical to where it was eight years ago, of course. Some factors have improved considerably this time around: GDP growth, for one, is much stronger. In other areas the economy is worse off, particularly in the number of jobs created and the size of the budget deficit. Still, history suggests that unless the economy suddenly deteriorates, it may be difficult for John F. Kerry to convince voters -- outside of swing states that have suffered disproportionately from the loss of manufacturing jobs -- that Bush has mishandled economic policy.<br><br>Some analysts have wondered whether Bush is doomed to repeat his father's defeat. But this is a much different situation from 1992, when Clinton ran against Bush Sr. under the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid!" In July, 1992, the unemployment rate was tallied at 7.7%, nearly a full percentage point higher than a year earlier. Against this backdrop, the incumbent had a tough case to make.<br><br>By the time Clinton was running again in 1996, the economy had come a long way, but the national mood was troubled. Voters still felt uneasy about layoffs and outsourcing, with far more insecurity about their jobs than they had in the 1980s. Real wages were only up 0.9% -- total -- since Clinton had first taken office.<br><br>Real Differences<br>And although jobs were being created -- more than 200,000 per month -- the jobless rate was barely inching down. In fact, going into the August, 1996, Republican National Convention in San Diego, 12 states actually had higher unemployment rates than a year earlier. By comparison, only one -- Rhode Island -- has a higher rate today than a year ago.<br><br>Moreover, growth prospects did not look very bright at the time of the convention. In August, 1996, the government reported that productivity had risen only 0.7% over the previous year -- a number that has since been revised to 2.8%. Moreover, over Clinton's almost four years in office, a period of economic recovery, growth had averaged a tepid 2.5%, according to the data at that time. As a result, most economic forecasters expected only 2% or so growth over the next year, terrible by current standards.<br><br>Just like today, some parts of the country were doing better than others. In July, 1996, 10 states had a jobless rate at or above 6%, not much different from today's eight states. California, in particular, had unemployment over 7% in 1996, far worse than the 5% the state saw in 1989.<br><br>Also just like today, the mixed economic picture in 1996 was reflected in the data on consumer confidence from the Conference Board. In July, 1996, the consumer confidence index was 107, about where it is now. That was far below the previous peak of 121, reached in 1989.<br><br>And yet, despite the concern about job losses and the sluggish economy, Dole was unable to get traction against Clinton. The Democrats were able to argue successfully that a 5.5% unemployment rate was a successful economic record.<br><br>Is there any reason to believe that Bush might be more vulnerable on the economy today than Clinton was? Perhaps. For one, Dole was not a very effective candidate, and he ran against one of the great campaigners of all time.<br><br>But there are real differences as well that could open up opportunities for Kerry. Clinton had the advantage of an economy that picked up speed going into the fall election season, as the tech boom started to take hold. Today, companies are reporting still-sluggish growth, though little solid data yet exist on August.<br><br>Another difference is the unemployment rate for college-educated workers, which stands at 2.7%, compared with 2.2% in 1996. While that may not seem high, it's enough to raise anxiety among the educated class, who face unprecedented threats from outsourcing.<br><br>In addition, real wages are down over the past year, compared with a slight increase in 1996. The political import of that, however, depends on whether voters are more sensitive to recent events or to comparisons with four years earlier. Real wages are still up by 2.1% since Bush took office -- equal to the entire real wage gain from 1983 to 1996.<br><br>Then there's the budget and trade deficits, which are far higher as a share of GDP than they were in 1996. These factors may hurt economic growth over the long haul, but it's hard to argue that they are holding the economy back in the short run.<br><br>The biggest imponderable is how the labor market does over the next few months. If job growth continues to stall, then Kerry will have a potent economic issue. But a pickup in the labor market will make this look even more like 1996 -- and we know who won that one.<br><br>By Michael J. Mandel</blockquote><br><br>link<br><br><br>****************<br><br>[color:blue]VOTE</font color=blue>[color:red] for President George W. Bush on November 2, 2004</font color=red>
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there's something key missing from that article, but my economic ignorance can't point it out.<br><br>here's my economy. up until about 2001, i would regularly get a 3.5 - 4% raises each year. this past year, i felt lucky to get a 1% raise and have my medical insurance costs and out of pocket expenses for my family go up. our department is being forced to cut dearly from the budget so my new computer that i am supposed to get every 3-4 years has now been pushed back to every 5 or 6 years. i love my powerbook 550, but another 3 years with it is not going to make me appreciate it any more. and, there's other huge cuts being made, but obviously, the computer issue is quite near and dear to my heart. <br><br><br><br>--<br>one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato
<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>up until about 2001, i would regularly get a 3.5 - 4% raises each year.<p><hr></blockquote><p><br>What did you do to merit the raises and where did the money for them come from? How is productivity in your field measured? Just curious.<br><br>
_________________________ Old farts, the hidden caulk of civilization. Jim Atkinson
we are reviewed based on 4 categories: (1) teaching, (2) research, (3) unit and university service, (4) community service (#s 1 and 2 weigh much more than 3 and much, much more than #4). a range of salary raises are set by the board of regents based upon funding received from the state. So, for example, many of those years, the range was about 2% - 4% and your specific raise was based upon your ranking in the previously mentioned categories. some people at the very low end were not given a raise and were instead let go (non-tenured). i don't know much about people with tenure, but they still have to be productive to move up on the pay scale (e.g., associate professor, full professor) and have to remain productive for a many years to move up (e.g., it takes 5 or 6 years of productivity to move from assistant professor to associate professor). this year, the range was up to 1% for the top performers.; though, i could have applied for merit and received $200 more . . . i determined that my time to prepare the documentation was not going to be worth the possibility of earning that extra $200.<br><br>#1 is measured by student evaluations and peer evaluations. i am required to have tenured faculty watch some of my classes and provide me with feedback. this feedback is shared with my peers and they are able to evaluate whether i learn from the feedback and fix any problems in my teaching (not a problem with me). <br><br>#2 is measured by your ability to publish; write grants; and present at conferences. i do all 3 and i think i am probably more productive than the vast majority of my peers with regard to writing research articles and grants. because of this, i will probably go up for early tenure this year. we have to be able to demonstrate that we have been extraordinary to get early tenure. that's still a bit ambiguous to me and seems to be left to the interpretation of the individual faculty members who will vote on whether to grant me early tenure or not. i am still trying to get a feel for what they expect because a colleague of mine went for early tenure last year and did not get it and i thought he was an extremely hard and efficient worker. <br><br>#3 is measure by the # of committees and the quality of those committees you serve on in your department and at the university (e.g., academic senate; curriculum committees -- i am on the university academic computing advisory board; i also chair an undergraduate program this year; i also serve on a state committee started by senator Carl Levin; and, many small committees -- e.g., i chair a task force on online teaching).<br><br>#4 is one of those categories where you just have to donate your time and/or services to the community. for the past few years, i've gone into an inner city elementary school and tutored on Wednesday mornings -- working on literacy skills with a couple of children on those mornings. some people serve on non-profit boards, etc., but most try and do something for education/schools. my wife does some free inservice trainings to help general educators better understand how to teach in a general education classroom that contains many students with disabilities. this is an easy category to fulfill because you just have to do it.<br><br><br>--<br>one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato
That's pretty standard, I think, Sean. We have basically the same set up.<br><br>I think what's missing from the analysis is that Clinton's figures came as unemployment was declining steadily from the first Bush's recession and ditto for income, rising steadily from the first Bush's recession. The second Bush's figures represent exactly the opposite trend.<br><br>
_________________________ MACTECHubi dolor ibi digitus
that's great matt. you must be doing an excellent job and your line of work appears to be unaffected by the poor economy. teachers in michigan are seeing a worse economy than the one i described. that's why i feel lucky because if i was in a local school district, i would not be getting a raise at all (not that 1% adds up very quickly when you are a peon like me anyway) and would instead lose much more money to healthcare (14% increase last year, which is the largest since 1990).<br><br><br>--<br>one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -Plato
<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr><p>you must be doing an excellent job and your line of work appears to be unaffected by the poor economy.<p><hr></blockquote><p>I was doing an excellent job before, but then 9/11 occurred and everything just kind of froze for a while. Now, in a recovering economy, advertising has picked up, sales have picked up and performance based incentives have been applied. <br><br>****************<br><br>[color:blue]VOTE</font color=blue>[color:red] for President George W. Bush on November 2, 2004</font color=red>
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Believe me, having gone through a few up and down years, I'm committed to working for ME, Inc. I'm working hard to become debt free: no car payments, house payments and credit card payments of any kind. Matter of fact, in an effort to pay off bills, we just sold one of our new eMacs. My eMac is next, leaving just the Powerbook. It's my continuing "everything-must-go-and-get-out-of-debt-as-soon-as-possible" sale. <br><br>Whoever is in the White House, I won't rely on their economic policies to balance out my independent, cash-on-hand, out-of-debt, money-in-the-bank happiness. <br><br>****************<br><br>[color:blue]VOTE</font color=blue>[color:red] for President George W. Bush on November 2, 2004</font color=red>
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