Exploiting the Short Memories of American Voters

As we enter the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections, the GOP is doing what it has always done best — exploit the poor memories of American voters.

They do this by putting on a straight face and asking questions they know most voters lack the memories or the fundamental understanding of economics to be able to answer.

Why do we have a $14-trillion national debt? Why do we have 9 percent unemployment? Why aren’t our corporate taxes lower than in other industrialized nations? These questions have become the foundation for the GOP’s stand against raising the debt ceiling.

They know that dory-fish voters will grope for the easiest answer: “Because Obama is in the White House?”

Sadly, half the voters actually believe, superstitiously, that booting Obama out of office will somehow bring about instant improvement.

These are the voters who can’t remember three years back to the collapse of the real-estate ponzi scheme built by U.S. investment banks with the GOP’s active backing. That ponzi scheme bet the savings of ordinary Americans that the laws of gravity didn’t apply to home prices.

The hope of change wrought by Barack Obama, combined with the stability provided by China’s rock-solid growth rate, were the only things that kept our economy from collapsing all the down to 1929 levels. Compared to what might have been, today’s economy is little short of miraculous.

The American voter certainly can’t remember ten years back, to the end of the Clinton presidency, when our national debt was $5.7 trillion, only 50% of our $11.3 trillion GDP. Our unemployment rate was at a three-decade low 4.0 percent. The median household income of $42,148 was tied with 1999 for the highest on record, going all the way back to 1952.

Even most American businesspeople don’t know that, as a matter of fact, U.S. corporate taxes are the second lowest among the 26 developed economies, having plunged from 4 percent of GDP in 1965 to only 1.3 percent in 2009. By contrast, the figure is 8.2 percent in Norway, 4.0% in S. Korea, 2.6 percent in Japan and 1.5 percent in Germany. GOP detractors point to the maximum statutory rate of 35% and ignore the fact that most multinationals exploit countless loopholes to avoid dipping at all into their $2 trillion in accumulated profits.

The GOP wants voters to believe that all our troubles are the work of Barack Obama and those tax-and-spend democrats. Fortunately, about half the U.S. population does have a memory. Let’s hope they can help jog the memories of the other half before it’s too late. Again.