Election year rhetoric is on full display
In any year where the presidency is on the line, it's a safe bet that the average American will hear a great deal of conversation and debate on a wide range of issues: national defense, Social Security, taxes, Medicare, and the strength of the economy to name just a few.
With over 200 days to go until the American people make their decision known in November, the debate has already started. We are still months away from the national party conventions to be held in Boston and New York, and yet the news we get each day is reminiscent of a race that's in the final days leading up to November 2.
Now that many important national issues will be given even more prominence in the weeks and months ahead, we should consider taking this time to reflect on some of the achievements of the past four years.
During the first two years of his presidency, George W. Bush has repeatedly proven his mettle as a leader who is up to the task of tackling the challenges posed by terrorist organizations around the world. One only need look at the outcome of the conflicts against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and against the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq to realize that America will not be pushed around by rogue organizations.
Just as significantly, there have been major accomplishments with regard to the national economy. Let me state here that while I am certainly pleased with the progress that has been made in the economic recovery, I am not satisfied that we have gone nearly as far as we can go.
I have taken the opportunity in previous columns to discuss the dramatic upturn we have witnessed in the national economy in the past twelve months. The presumptive nominee who will face the president in November, as well as many liberals and even large segments of the national media, would have everyone believe that, as an editorial in the New York Post asserted, "America's economy is on its last legs."
That is simply not true. Of course, everyone will have a different perspective on what particular areas should be examined in order to evaluate the strength of the economy.
I think, though, that providing some examples of the improvements in the economy will give a more accurate picture of what is really happening:
One of the other factors most analysts use to judge economic strength is the number of new jobs that have been created. No one will deny that many jobs were lost during the economic downturn that began during the last months of the Clinton administration. Much of that loss can be traced to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the "crash" of the companies associated with the high-tech or "dot com" sectors.
Even the insecurity associated with the job market has reversed itself and is moving in a very positive direction. As of February 2004, levels of employment in this country had increased for six consecutive months. In January, payroll employment increased by 112,000 jobs, the best rate of growth in three years.
Since September of last year, a total of 366,000 payroll jobs have been created. And unemployment claims are at their lowest levels in three years.
November 2 is a long way off, and there will be a great deal of debate and disagreement between now and that time. Both nominees will work incredibly hard to define their positions and frame the debate based on their accomplishments.
Without question, it is important that we each take the time to educate ourselves on the issues so we can make informed choices. Keeping up with what is in the news is half that process.
And learning the entire story is the other, more important half.
My staff and I work for the people of south Alabama. Let us know when we can be of service.