Long-time political junkies will remember the sign up in the Bill Clinton campaign's "war room": It's the Economy, Stupid. The idea was to keep the campaign focused on the economy instead of social issues. Obviously, it worked.
2012's presidential campaign will be focused on the economy as well. But the Republican candidates are having some issues with--to bring back another phrase from those days--fuzzy math. A few examples:
Yes, I do pay a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney does. I bet you do, too. Here's a handy chart. Of course, Mitt's paying legal taxes, taking advantage of laws that allow people investing other people's money to pay capital gains taxes instead of income taxes on their paychecks, stashing funds in the Caymans (just like in my thriller The Devil's Bait), etc. But his tax plan, should he accidentally become president, would result in yet lower taxes for him and his millionaire pals, and higher taxes on the poor. This makes sense how? Do the math, Mitt--the rich need to pay a little more. The poor can't afford to.
Newt Gingrich has some math trouble of his own. He keeps claiming, in debates and ads, that "more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history." Except that's another lie, since in fact, more Americans went on food stamps under the George W. Bush administration than any other. Under Obama, though the numbers went up for a while (and those that happened before his programs took effect should really be counted toward Bush's totals), but now they're going down.
Of course, in every Republican debate and stump speech this season, we hear about how President Obama is destroying the economy, how his stimulus was a failure, etc. More bad math there, since in fact the stimulus demonstrably stopped the economy's downhill slide and led to 22 straight months of job growth. The latest figures show job unemployment claims at their lowest level since April 2008, which was about when the policies of the Bush years (slash regulations and cut taxes--you know, the same policies being offered up by the current Republican candidates) resulted in our most calamitous economic decline since the Great Depression.
This chart, courtesy of the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, shows the reversal that came about when the stimulus spending began. The difference is unmistakable, but the Republicans keep lying about it.
Steve Benen points out another HUGE Mitt Romney lie--more of Romney's bad math, since apparently he doesn't know the difference between 0 and 1. Romney said, “We’ve got a president in office three years, and he does not have a jobs plan yet. I’ve got one out there already and I’m not even president, yet.”
Yeah, Mitt, only if you had been paying attention, you might have heard about this: http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/jobsact. The rest of America has. The president has even put parts of it into action despite total opposition from Republicans in Congress.
Oh, wait--you did hear about it, because you have even talked about it--see the video at the Mitt Romney lie link above. The presiden't jobs plan is comprehensive and workable. The one Romney mentioned is.. guess what... slash regulations and cut taxes. Because that worked so well last time.
The Republican candidates are more focused on seeking out the biggest pockets of hate-voters in the country (hence Gingrich's surge in South Carolina--he'll soon run out of states that fly the Confederate flag over the statehouse, though) than in getting the numbers (or facts) right. But this tells you all you need to know--none of them deserve to be president. They won't accept the truth about yesterday, and that makes their ideas about tomorrow entirely fraudulent.