Hillary Clinton says the United States is in crisis. Where is Politifact’s Truth-o-Meter when you need it?
Here are the facts:
According to Gallup, 29 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s a whole lot better than the low of 7 percent reached at the nadir of the financial crisis.
It’s also better than the 18 percent who were satisfied at the same point (March 2011) in Barack Obama’s presidency. Since President Trump was elected in 2016, this gauge of the country’s contentment has trended distinctly higher.
Consumer sentiment, measured by the University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers, stood last month at 93.8. In March 2011, it stood at 67.5. Last year, the index, which moved higher immediately following the 2016 election, spiked to over 100 during March and September. It never rose above 100 during Obama’s presidency.
Last year, Bloomberg’s “Comfort Index” hit a 17-year high. Even as markets slid and the economic outlook softened near the end of 2018, Bloomberg reported that “the overall index remains near the highest since 2000 … .”
Those indicators suggest that Americans see no crisis. That’s not surprising, considering that the jobs market and unemployment data are extremely positive for every single sector of the population. Nearly anyone who wants a job can get one, including formerly high-unemployment groups like the disabled and ex-convicts.
Not only are real wages finally rising, but the high number of job openings means that people are able to hop into better opportunities — a possibility that isn’t necessarily caught by the wage data. Companies, struggling to hire workers, are offering unprecedented training opportunities.
The fourth quarter of 2018 saw a slowdown in growth, but the period’s year-over-year growth of 3.1 percent was the best final-quarter performance in 13 years. Most important, it included a sharp upturn in capital investment by businesses.
That sector of the economy had lagged during President Obama’s time in office; businesses were too worried about the next onslaught of regulation to invest in new plants and equipment. That has changed. Business spending leads to productivity gains, which leads to higher wages. It is a virtuous circle.
To be fair, Hillary Clinton, who spoke over the weekend at a rally in Selma, Ala., was not addressing the nation’s economic health. In fact, like most Democrats, she’d like to ignore the economy altogether since most Americans credit Donald Trump with its success.
Instead she was lamenting that, “fundamental rights, civic virtue, freedom of the press, the rule of law, truth, facts and reason are under assault.” Those are harsh charges; is she correct?
Liberals talk a lot about President Trump somehow crippling “freedom of the press,” but the only attempts I see to suppress voices comes from social media’s continuing assault on conservatives.
CNN’s Jim Acosta whines incessantly about not being called upon or being booted from an Oval Office presser after shouting racially-provocative questions at the president, but he’s still plying his trade and making a nuisance of himself in the White House briefing room.
It is true that President Trump has called out the media for its relentlessly negative coverage of his administration. Should he call the press the “enemy of the people?” Probably not, but he can certainly cite evidence that they are his enemy, and in his view, that’s the same thing.
President Obama brags that he never resorted to that language, but he actually did far worse. The Obama Justice Department surveilled James Rosen, a Fox News reporter, and a White House spokesman admitted excluding Fox News from interviews.
The reason, according to then-White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn: “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
So freedom of the press is at least as alive and well as it has been in recent years. The only difference is that Obama had only one critical organization to deal with while Trump faces innumerable foes in the fourth estate.
Clinton also said that “hard-fought-for civil rights are being stripped back.” Where is that happening?
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights logs Trump’s alleged “rollbacks” of our civil rights. In 2017, for instance, they wrote that the president signed three executive orders “to fight crime, gangs, and drugs; restore law and order; and support the dedicated men and women of law enforcement.”
Those orders, the group noted, “though vague, were viewed suspiciously by civil rights organizations.” So, enforcing law and order infringes on civil rights? One might hope that living in a secure and safe country was the very essence of a civil right.
Approaching the 2020 election, Democrats will make these kinds of dark accusations against Trump and again resort to identity politics, banging away at the president’s supposed indifference to minorities, transgender people and undocumented immigrants.
They may also campaign to upend our nation’s way of life — promoting socialist measures, which diminish the individual and aggrandize the state.
Most of this sensible country will consider a strong economy and better security more important to their daily lives. Clearly, they see no crisis.
Published on The Hill