Simon and Rob issued a new Memo today, looking at how the economy is playing out in the campaign. We were particularily keen to puncture the Republican idea that falling gas prices would help boost the President's flat economic approval pictures. As you can see from this graph, there doesn't actually seem to be much of a relationship between the two. Or at the very least, falling prices have no been enough to lift that rating. And we think this second graph might be the reason why the Republicans get such little credit for their strong growth and productivity gains. This is the e-mail that Simon sent out earlier today.
Under George Bush, the American economy is not benefiting most families. And progressives must hold the administration to account in this election.
Today Rob Shapiro and I are releasing a new memo – Challenging The Republican Economic Record – where we compare how little the income of the average American family has increased over the last four years, with four years of comparable GDP growth during President Clinton’s terms. We find that the dismal Republican record has cost the average family $5,054 in income gains.
You can read the memo online here, or download a PDF version here.
This “prosperity gap” of more than $5,000 per family – not the volatile price of gas - helps explain why President Bush’s economic approval ratings remain low and why, throughout this campaign, Democrats must speak loudly and clearly about the economy.
Whether gas prices rise or fall over the next five weeks, progressives must hold conservatives accountable for their major failures of economic stewardship - stagnant wages and incomes; fiscal mismanagement, and misunderstanding globalization.
If you missed NDN's recent events with Senator Mary Landrieu on recovery in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast a year after Katrina and with Representative Jane Harman on the state of US foreign policy, you can now watch them on our website. To hear these informative discussions held exclusivley for NDN members, click on the links above or visit www.ndn.org.
The Washington Post further documents the scale of our failed occupation of Iraq.
Let us all be proud of those Members of Congress who choose to not accept the Administration's argument about progress, and who have forced a vital debate about how to bring our work in Iraq to a better end.
Earlier this year, Simon wrote the foreword to Crashing the Gate, a book written by two leaders of the "new politics," Markos Moulitsas of Dailykos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD. The book received great reviews in the New York Times, New York Review of Books and many other places. It is now available in paperback, and is essential reading for anyone wanting to get up to speed on the blogs, the netroots and the powerful new politics of our day.
The NYT writes about the economic consequences of Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. In California and other states, growers cannot find enough migrant workers to harvest their crops and fruit is literally rotting on the trees. The political consequences for national Republicans are just as pungent:
As they sum up this season’s losses, estimated to be at least $10 million for California pear farmers immigration legislation that would have addressed the shortage by authorizing a guest-worker program for agriculture. Many growers, a dependably Republican group, said they felt betrayed.
This is an important reminder that Republican inaction on this issue impacts all of us, not just immigrants, and posturing on border security will not fix the problem. Read more on NDN's reaction to the Republican decision to give up on immigration reform here.
Tuesday's Times details how the GOP is ending strong this year, giving them the momentum they need to hold on to power:
Procrastination, power struggles and partisanship have left Congress with substantial work to finish before breaking for the elections. The fast-approaching recess and the Republican focus on national security legislation make it inevitable that much of the remainder will fall by the wayside.
At best, it appears that just 2 of the 11 required spending bills will pass, and not one has been approved so far, forcing a stopgap measure to keep the federal government open. No budget was enacted. A popular package of business and education tax credits is teetering. A lobbying overhaul, once a top priority in view of corruption scandals, is dead. The drive for broad immigration changes has derailed.
An offshore oil drilling bill painted as an answer to high gas prices is stalled. Plans to cut the estate tax and raise the minimum wage have floundered, and an important nuclear pact with India sought by the White House is not on track to clear Congress. New problems surfaced over the weekend for the annual military authorization bill. And numerous other initiatives await a planned lame-duck session in mid-November or a future Congress.
“It is disappointing where we are, and I think Republicans need to be upfront about this,” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia and a member of the House leadership. “We have not accomplished what we need to accomplish.”
It's been making the rounds in our office, and maybe yours by now. Chris Wallace's interview with President Bill Clinton doesn't lack for fireworks. Wallace starts with a "hit job" question, implicitly accusing Clinton of not doing enough to fight terrorism. And the former President doesn't pull any punches in answering it.
Check out the Washington Times today to see Simon's response to the new Gallup Poll. According to the poll, the national party preference is even among likely voters.
"Nobody believes those numbers. I don't think anybody in the country believes the generic party preference is even right now," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democrat Network. Still, Mr. Rosenberg said, Mr. Bush's efforts to elevate the terrorism issue in the campaign "has been marginally effective." "The Republicans got a bounce out of his 9/11 speech. The president does have the ability to change the debate in the country. The problem is, it is not sustainable," he said.
The Washington Post took a courageous stand on the current battle over immigration. It is worth reading in its entirety. Here it is:
THE CYNICAL immigration endgame of the 109th Congress isn't particularly surprising. But after a session in which the Senate actually managed to produce a bipartisan, comprehensive measure to overhaul the existing system, the latest, enforcement-only developments are nonetheless disappointing and dangerous.
The House has passed, and the Senate seems ready to go along with, a measure to require construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border. That would cost at least $2 billion, and that's in addition to a $2.5 billion initiative, entrusted to Boeing Co. this week, to erect "virtual fences" along the northern and southern borders.
A fence would damage relations with Mexico, harm the environment and, especially in the absence of broader changes, be ineffective. Even if a foolproof fence could be placed along every mile of the border, it wouldn't eliminate illegal immigration. Perhaps half of those in the country illegally did not slip secretly across a border but arrived through official entry points, using fraudulent documents or coming in legally and overstaying their visas.
But the fence is, sadly, the least offensive of the measures under consideration. On Wednesday, the House approved an unnecessary and arguably unconstitutional bill to require voters to show photo identification to take part in federal elections beginning in 2008; in 2010, the ID would have to demonstrate proof of citizenship. This would effectively disenfranchise many poor and elderly Americans, who are less likely to have, or be able to obtain, such documentation. It responds to a non-problem. The manifold challenges of election administration do not include large numbers of noncitizens trying to vote. The Senate should not go along.
Yesterday, the House passed another batch of immigration-related measures, the worst of which would deputize state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws. The measure would permit, but not require, state and local police to arrest and detain illegal immigrants for even civil violations of federal immigration law. This would undermine the ability of law enforcement to deter and prosecute violent crime. As New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, "Do we really want people who could have information about criminals -- including potential terrorists -- to be afraid to go to the police?"
The most disappointing aspect of the debate is the passive posture of President Bush. Mr. Bush could have used his bully pulpit to make clear the importance of comprehensive reform. He could promise to veto the bills on the understanding that enforcement measures, even justifiable ones, will be needed as leverage to obtain the comprehensive program he says he wants. Instead, he's meekly following the worst instincts of his fellow Republicans. "Yes, I'll sign it into law," Mr. Bush told CNN, adding, "If your question is, 'Will I stop trying to push for a comprehensive reform?' The answer is, 'No, I won't stop trying to push for comprehensive reform.' " With pushing like this, who needs opponents?