Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is It the Economy (again)?

Whether or not the numbers coming out of the American and European stock exchanges can be read as a "review" of Sarah Palin's address to the Republican National Convention last night, BBC NEWS did not waste any time in letting us know how little confidence those numbers seemed to be indicating:

European and US shares have fallen sharply on further fears over the state of the US economy and the prospect of slower growth in the Eurozone.

London's FTSE 100 index closed 2.5% down while German and French markets each lost about 3% and key US markets were trading 2% lower.

The slides came after US data showed sluggish shop sales and mounting unemployment claims.

The European Central Bank also cut its 2009 growth forecast from 1.5% to 1.2%.

'Little confidence'

The jitters in the US prompted by rising jobless benefit claims were added to by an ADP Employer Services report showing US private employers cut 33,000 jobs in August.

And weak sales in the closely-watched back-to-school period also caused anxiety.

"It's definitely fear of an economic downturn that's hurting us today," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.

"The economic data and the downbeat forecasts from management don't lend a lot of confidence to the economic revival outlook."

This prompted me to revisit Palin's text to see just what she had to say about economic matters. It turns out that she did not say very much and that what little she did say amounted to beating Barack Obama over the head with the usual Republican shtick about raising taxes:

Taxes are too high ... he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars. My sister Heather and her husband have just built a service station that's now opened for business - like millions of others who run small businesses.

How are they going to be any better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you're trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or Ohio ... or create jobs with clean coal from Pennsylvania or West Virginia ... or keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.

How are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy? Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election.

After that last sentence she departs entirely from anything even remotely related to the economy.

Did she know she was peddling a myth? Had she actually read Obama's words from last week? The words I have in mind are the following:

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

Once again we have the speaker who does not bother to read the text she is supposed to be refuting. Let us hope that Obama has the gumption to call her out on the inaccuracies of her claims and the motives behind them!

No comments: