When Truthful Words Mislead
“President Obama has been a disaster. He has presided over the worst economic recovery in history. Hillary Clinton means more of the same for another 4 years.” So, elect Republicans, including Donald Trump in order to elect real change”. Hmmm.
Do these words sound familiar? They should. The first paragraph represents one of the primary campaign threads the GOP is using. But do these words represents truthful statements?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes, these words are truthful. They simply, however, are misleading and not relevant.
First, one has to recall that it was during the last Republican Administration (2000 to 2008) when large tax cuts (promised by Replicants if elected in 2016) were introduced and subsequently (1) the Federal Budget went from an annual surplus to an annual deficit, and after 7 lack luster years of uneven growth (under “W”), (2) the country’s economic growth crashed into a severe recession (approaching the depths of a depression).
Second, the recession was not limited to the US economy. Rather, the broken US bubble dragged most of the rest of the world (including China) into similar recessions. Those countries which responded with “stimulus” policies, stabilized and then experienced economic growth, and those which chose austerity, saw contraction or at best anemic growth.
Third, the average GDP growth rate for George W Bush’s 8 years was 1.8% ending in the largest economic contraction since the 1929 crash. During President Obama’s Administration, GDP growth has averaged about 1.8% with no period over 3%. Rather than feast and bust GDP growth, Obama years have been marked but steady but unspectacular growth. More importantly, one must realize that the GOP controlled Congress resisted all of President Obama’s calls for stimulus from 2010 until now. With a world report card visible to everyone, blaming the lower level of GDP growth on President Obama is grossly misleading.
Ironically, the steady but slow GDP growth might just as easily be seen as a sign of the US economy’s inherent economic strength, which without stimulus is still one of the best in the world. The push-pull Congressional-Presidential relationship is currently not suited for a comprehensive domestic growth policy.
President Obama’s presidency has experienced its share of setbacks, many self inflicted. Truthful but clearly misleading statements, however, do no one a service. Republican leaders know the difference and have intentionally created “truthful but misleading” statements for the purpose of distracting voters and convincing them to expect better results than are likely.
Truthful but misleading is not a Donald Trump phenomena. Trump prefers overtly untruthful and misleading statements since they require less time to think up. People, however, like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell both know better and occupy leadership positions where Americans have been conditioned to expect “non-misleading” statements. Both elected officials occupy key Congressional positions and Ryan is second in line to succeed the President should it be necessary. They know better but are content not to do better.