Email #125: “regulate the economy”?

A new poll shows that Americans view the economy not through verifiable facts but through the lens of their political parties. “We’ve never recorded this before,” said the director of the University of Michigan’s consumer poll: “the partisan divide has never had as large an impact on consumers’ economic expectations.”

While the polarizing effects of the last election and Trump’s continuingly divisive presidency may be the biggest factor, you’ve done your part too. You wrote in one of your past newsletters:

“The Obama Administration’s attempt over the last eight years to regulate the economy back to prosperity was the wrong approach.”

The verb “regulate” is a rhetorical device to imply that President Obama’s only method for tackling the economy was creating new regulations. This is obviously not true, and so it is disturbing to see you so casually imply a false statement. Worse, you directly state that President Obama’s economic policies overall were “wrong.” This is verifiably false. As you know, the GDP growth was up for 25 of the last 27 quarters of his presidency, with 76 consecutive months of jobs growth.

There’s plenty to criticize too, since the percent of growth was low. Still, Obama entered office at the onset of the Great Recession, and a Republican Congress, yourself included, halted his economic growth policies two years later. So why didn’t your newsletter column “The Price Tag of Federal Regulation” acknowledge the Republican role in the economic condition of the country, especially the policies of the Bush Administration that triggered the recession that Obama inherited?

Your treatment of facts is disturbing. We have a President who routinely lies. I say that objectively. According to multiple fact-checking sources, President Trump regularly makes false statements, calling them “truthful hyperboles” or “euphemisms” or “alternate facts.” Whatever you call them, they destroy public trust. And rather than addressing that problem, your own statements are adding to it, further dividing the country–even on issues as factually verifiable as the state of the economy.

You told me elected officials should be held to the highest standards. Please apply that principle to your own rhetoric. There’s far more at stake than partisan squabbling. You can either help to heal America’s blinding political divide, or you can keep widening that gap to score meaningless partisan points at a deepening cost to our nation.

 

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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