We've heard it enough, already, Republicans, and it's getting old. The hackneyed claim that President Obama is not merely anti-business but the most anti-business Prez in a good long while just doesn't wash: Obama's is "the most anti-business administration since at least Jimmy Carter", per Mitch McConnell. And then there's this ridiculous overstatement: "Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps American History," according to Dinesh D'Souza, the outspoken conservative who has been one of Obama's harshest critics. D'Souza spoke at last week's big Republican dinner in Rapid City to what I'm told was a warm reception. I wasn't there, but have no doubt that he hammered on this theme during his presentation. As a Republican I know it's basic GOP dogma coming into this election cycle and will more than likely be repeated ad infinitum at political rallies all over the country as the mid-terms draw near.
Personally, I think we Republicans are barking up a fruitless tree on this issue. Why? Because the economic facts of the matter simply don't jibe with the notion that business has been hampered in any way, shape or form since Barack Obama has been in office. Exhibit Number One? U.S. corporate profits as a percent of GDP are the highest they've been since at least 1950 ("the highest ever" per Robert Reich's facebook assertion this morning). Exhibit Number Two? Stock indexes have made sizable gains to new or near-new highs since Obama was first sworn in, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than doubling over that span. Exhibit Number Three? U.S. tax revenues since 2009, both in dollars and percent of GDP have been steadily increasing. Exhibit Number Four? The federal deficit as a percent of GDP is now a third of what it was in 2009. Frankly, as a good Republican businessman, I'm extremely pleased about how well things have gone since this "most anti-business" president has been in office.
So what are we GOPers to do now that reality has undercut one of our favorite memes? Here's what. Let's reconsider that Reuters link on corporate profits which is accompanied by a chart on wage growth. The conclusion? Profits might be great but wage growth stinks. It's the lowest it's been in half a century. Though I refuse to conclude that correlation is causation, I know full well that Democrats jump all over these two data and believe they're connected. What's more, as political grist it's an easy conclusion to pitch in an era when class divisions and the natural envy they produce can be converted into political capital.
My view is that Republicans can steal the march on this by talking up higher wages, either through minimum wage increases or incentives given to employers who are willing to raise them on their own. For one thing, profit margins have been so high in recent years that employers probably have plenty of financial room to start kicking up pay scales. For another, it's time for a certain moral imperative to be applied. Executives and managers have been making great money. Shareholders have been having a field day. But workers? Please. The current situation is pathetic and needs to be addressed. On a practical level, putting more money into the hands of mass consumers can only be a good thing in an economy that is about 70% driven by them and their household purchases. On a political level it would probably do a lot of good for Republicans who constantly have to fend off charges, bogus in my view even though they're effective, that we Pubs care only about the rich among us.
Pressing hard for better wages in this country and making it an integral part of the Republican message this year would be a winner. Time to get moving on this, Pubs