Politics, lies and the great lies
With a nod to honest officials everywhere, pardon my observation that politicians have been lying since God was a boy. Dissembling, spinning, stretching the truth with hyperbole seems to be part of persuading voters you are more worthy than the next guy.
There’s nothing new with dishonesty in politics, but the current Democratic leadership has turned lying into an art form.
I am perpetually disappointed in Republicans, but my unabashed disgust goes to Democrats and their dedication to a policy of deception, as if their targeted voters aren’t smart enough to do a little fact checking or see through the smoke. Maybe they aren’t.
My favorite deception this year, only because it is so obviously absurd, was on proud display at the Democrat convention in Charlotte when Sandra Fluke, Democrat poster child of the “Republican war on women,” bemoaned that Republicans want to deny her access to contraception.
She must not meet the threshold IQ just over room temperature needed to recognize she can always buy her own birth control pills instead of insisting other citizens buy them for her.
A more fundamental deception involves the August jobs numbers being touted as an Obama achievement, 96,000 jobs added and unemployment dropping to 8.1 percent.
You may know that unemployment disappears as a political issue at 5-6 percent, because “frictional unemployment,” the natural process of workers transitioning between jobs and the unemployability of some individuals with no skills, will always make full employment impossible to attain. So 5-6 percent has long been considered a reasonable target.
Let’s take an honest look at the August unemployment numbers. The 96,000 jobs added is a failure, not a success, because it falls far short of the number needed to keep pace with a growing population.
More troubling is that in August 368,000 people became sufficiently discouraged in their job search that they dropped out of the work force, nearly four times as many as the new jobs.
Since only those seeking employment are counted, the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent merely because of the dropouts, hardly a reason for anyone to celebrate.
Look closer at dropouts. If the same number of people who were in the workforce when President Obama took office were today in the work force — either employed or seeking employment — the unemployment rate would be 11.2 percent, even higher if we factored in population growth.
The uncounted “voluntarily unemployed” who have dropped out would make the unemployment rate close to a frightening 19 percent.
That’s honest, but it’s terribly inconvenient so the Democrats dishonestly turn the August numbers into an achievement.
Of course our negligent news media could make clear to the public the president doesn’t control jobs at all other than contributing to the national mood on consumer outlook and small business owner confidence. But they don’t, and most Americans lap up the political spin on jobs from both Democrats and Republicans.
If you countered Democrat deception with Romney’s dubious claim he will produce millions of jobs, I would agree, but here is the arguable difference.
Obama’s negative influence on jobs comes from anti-business rhetoric, piles of new regulations, chronic tax code uncertainty and demonizing those who succeed, all discouraging to business owners deciding whether and when to take a risk on a new venture or expansion.
If Romney is able to reverse these drags on business optimism, maybe business owners will get fired up to put into action many projects they now have on hold, creating jobs in the process.
But it will be business that creates the jobs, not Romney.
The Democrat lies on unemployment pale in comparison to the winning lie, the big whopper, the brazen falsehood born on the lips of the great leader himself, consumed and repeated with delirious belief by his devoted followers – and brain-dead reporters.
I’m talking, of course, about Obama’s claim that Republican policies “got us into this mess,” or “drove the car into the ditch.” As a wise man said, there are lies, damn lies, and #*%@#& lies. This one is the latter.
Republicans are not blameless for the conditions that led to the mortgage meltdown and triggered economic woes. They were complicit for decades in going along with inadequate resistance to the political tidal wave in support of “the poor.” Republican fingers are bloody but the Democrats are soaked in it from head to toe.
In the 1990s, President Clinton joined with Democrats Senator Chris Dodd (CT) and Congressman Barney Frank (MA) to argue people unqualified for mortgage loans were being left out of the American dream of home ownership. They led a heavy-handed charge that created a boom in subprime lending where higher interest rates compensate for lousy credit scores and impaired ability to repay the loan. You don’t have to be brilliant to smell trouble coming.
Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC), quasi-government agencies that encourage mortgage lending by purchasing mortgages from lending institutions and creating securities for resale, had underwriting (lending quality control) standards that minimized the risky portion of their portfolio.
Democrats leaned on them to lower standards despite their protest, forcing Fannie and Freddie to accept loans that heretofore would have been summarily rejected.
During his administration President George W. Bush worried about the financial viability of Fannie and Freddie and the extreme risk of subprime loans. He proposed measures to bolster their financial strength and re-establish traditional underwriting standards, efforts defeated with Barney Frank leading the charge to make things ever easier for unqualified borrowers.
When weak borrowers couldn’t afford the monthly payments on their dream home, lenders put them in variable rate loans, with an artificially low “teaser rate” for the first year to lower their monthly payment, a ticking time bomb with a higher rate and higher payment coming due that would lead the borrower to default.
The short-sighted strategy was to count on real estate values constantly rising, expecting that when the teaser rate expired the borrower could just refinance to get a new teaser rate. Thoughts about principle reduction and payoff timeframe weren’t even on the radar screen.
Subprime loans with inherently high default risk piled up at Fannie and Freddie, and the securities they resold to financial institutions had increasing problems that eventually became widely known.
The bubble burst when real estate values took a dip, teaser rate mortgages began to reset to the higher rates in great volume, refinancing was not possible since the houses were now worth far less than the loan needed, subprime borrowers defaulted in large numbers, and the whole Democrat-sponsored low income mortgage ball of twine unraveled.
Financial institutions were stuck with huge amounts of mortgage securities whose value was evaporating and the domino effect of toxic assets began to be felt in widespread lack of confidence, restrained lending and weakened financial strength sometimes leading to insolvency. America’s economy held its breath and teetered on disaster.
I’ll let history judge the financial industry bailouts. Maybe I’ll tell you my thoughts soon on the General Motors bailout, because the foundation of that Democrat success story, once again, is a lie.
You might be interested to know that Democrats Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, the prime culprits who did in fact get us into this mess, continued to push the same low-income mortgage agenda even while the economic waters were rising up to chin level. Senator Dodd left office in 2011, declining to run for re-election in the face of disapproving polls, and Rep. Barney Frank will retire in 2013. Good riddance.
I hope you remember, the next time you hear President Obama talk about the Republicans “... who got us into this mess,” probably tomorrow, that he is telling you a #*%@#& lie, and no matter how many times he repeats the lie, no matter how much his delirious followers consume it as truth, it remains a lie.
I don’t think there is much hope for Democrat leaders who deceive their own instead of staking out honest policy positions.
At the same time, I do wish my Republican party would wake up on a few things.
Leave religion in the church and home. Bring our troops home from nation-building adventures and be prepared to squash like a bug every enemy who threatens us, collateral damage be damned.
Temper the abortion argument by having every male Republican shut up on abortion and let conservative women decide what to do with the issue that most affects them and their daughters.
Try, try not to lie; leave it to the experts.
[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is email@example.com.]