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Roth: The election is about the economy, stupid

Op-ed
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When James Carville was a strategist with Bill Clinton’s campaign against incumbent President George H.W. Bush, he had a clear messaging focus: “the economy, stupid.” That shouldn’t be a surprise. While the political elite like to bicker and distract with a bunch of nonsense, when the financial foundation of the country is full of cracks, the economy is what matters to voters. It matters whether people can feed their families, afford to put gas in their cars, and heat their homes during the winter, let alone try to save and invest, without seeing their retirement funds dissipate.

This election is the same. It’s the economy. After severe devastation, voters get a chance to hold politicians accountable in the only way available to them today, by voting, and finally get some change.

While Biden and the Democrats have trotted out lies ranging from inflation (it’s transitory, it’s good for you, it’s corporations’ fault, it’s your fault, it’s Putin’s fault, etc.) to saying the economy is ”strong as hell,” people cannot be gaslit when they have to live with the consequences.

Whether it is at the local, state, or federal level, there are people running for reelection who have enabled a lot of destructive policy and new people running who supported these efforts and would do more of the same.

So much damage has been caused that it’s hard to encompass all the egregious economic and financial issues that have resulted from bad policy over the past two-plus years. Here’s a starter recap.

State and local politicians shuttered large sections of the economy, picking winners and losers and telling a large part of the population that they were “nonessential.” Small businesses were targeted, yet relief favored larger companies and was rampant with fraud.

They put in place or supported mandates that took away people’s livelihoods based on a political narrative instead of data and science.

They disrupted the learning and development of kids at all ages.

Trillions of dollars were transferred directly and indirectly from Main Street to Wall Street. The Federal Reserve was enabled and never held to account for keeping “emergency” support in place for 20+ months after the stock market hit all-time highs.

The government spent trillions of dollars, generating historic deficits and exploding the national debt to more than $31 trillion.

Their policies upended the labor market, kept supply chains in disarray, and generated historic inflation.

The inflation that was caused by bad, careless policy is now being addressed in ways that are increasing the costs of servicing the national debt, impairing the ability to save, and putting individuals farther into debt. The personal saving rate stands at levels not seen since the Great Recession financial crisis, and credit card debt is at the highest levels ever.

They inflated housing asset prices, gave cheap debt to corporate buyers, and then increased mortgage rates, putting the American dream out of reach for millions.

Now, people are seeking second jobs to pay for basic necessities — up to half of Americans have considered taking on a second job, per a recent survey.

The administration and their supporters have taken credit for jobs coming available due to post-pandemic reopening and Social Security cost of living increases that are actually happening because of inflation.

They gave a bailout to union pensions while other Americans’ retirement funds lost trillions in value.

They thwarted economic and national security around energy policy, then burned strategic petroleum reserves for political gains.

They put out a rule to try to eliminate independent workers and gig work at a time when we don’t have enough people in the labor force.

They are trying to force working-class folks and those who paid for college to shoulder the burden of college degree holders via select debt “relief.”

They earmarked $80 billion in funding to explode the size of the IRS and hire IRS agents to come after the middle and working classes.

They lowered the reporting threshold for online transactions to $600 from $20,000 to force middle- and working-class Americans to run their personal lives like a business and try to extract more fees from them.

They rescinded and then took credit for reinstating Trump’s insulin pricing rule and took credit for a 2017 law regarding hearing aid pricing.

The list goes on and on.

Regardless of what party you identify with, or if you don’t identify with one at all, these people need to be held accountable. Your vote is a good first step.

No amount of lipstick is going to make this economic pig look pretty. We can only hope that whoever takes over will have the fortitude to enact some serious change.
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