Tim Bishop, Jobs, and the Economy

by Bill O'Connell on September 30, 2012

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It’s The Economy, Stupid

As the number of days click off until Election Day, and we have a crucial race here in New York, I propose taking the points from Tim Bishop’s web site and analyze his positions and what they mean to us. The first installment will be on Jobs and the Economy.

Deficit Reduction

On his website Tim Bishop says he is fighting for deficit reduction. He is part of a bipartisan group who wants to cut $3-$4 trillion over ten years (that’s a mere $400 billion a year when we are running $1 trillion per year deficits) through spending cuts and closing tax loopholes. It is good to hear that Bishop is not proposing raising tax rates.

He also mentions that he voted for the line item veto in 2012 to help the president control spending. Let’s analyze this.  In 2006, when Bush was president, Congressman Bishop voted against the line item veto (HR 4890). What Bishop is boasting about can be called a sham vote. In 2006, with a Republican Congress, a line item veto had a pretty good chance at passage. If Tim Bishop really believed in fiscal restraint he would have voted for it, but he didn’t.  In 2007-2008, the Democrats regained control of Congress, and in 2009-2010 they increased their control and obtained a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The Democrats could have easily passed a line item veto, but with the Democrat Congress and President Obama hell-bent on spending like never before, why waste time on a line item veto? Along comes 2012 and with the Senate in the “do-nothing” hands of Harry Reid the situation probably went something like this. Reid guarantees Nancy Pelosi that a line item veto will never see the floor of the Senate. Nancy knows Tim Bishop is in a very tight race with a fiscal conservative and allowing him to vote for a line item veto might help him without the risk of the bill passing into law. This happens in politics when someone votes against their beliefs when they know their beliefs will not be compromised. It makes it appear to their constituents that they believe in something they really don’t. It’s a sham.

Payroll Tax Cut

“Congressman Bishop twice supported the payroll tax cut, which put about an extra $1,000 in Americans paychecks in 2011, and will benefit 160 million Americans, including 10.1 million in New York in 2012.” The good news is that lower taxes are good for the economy. The bad news is that it comes out to about $19.23 a week, or about the cost of a pizza with 1-2 toppings. What’s worse is that the payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare, both programs speeding toward insolvency. This does not de-fund government spending, it de-funds benefits for seniors. If benefits are not cut, then this makes the financial condition of Social Security and Medicare worse and will have to be made up elsewhere, increasing the debt. Social Security is a government-run savings plan. If you cut savings today, you have to make up for it tomorrow. A very bad idea.

Unemployment Insurance

We all know that these are tough economic times. Tim Bishop and President Obama still say it’s Bush’s fault. Conservatives believe that if Obama and his policies would get out-of-the-way the recovery would have been further along by now, as it was under Ronald Reagan. Regardless of the reason, extending unemployment benefits is the compassionate thing to do, right? Here is another view.

John Stossel took a close look at the matter. In one-third of the cases people found work just as their benefits were about to run out. In Denmark, the socialist government there used to provide five years of unemployment benefits and they discovered that most people found work after five years. So, they cut the benefit to four years and Danes found work in four years. Denmark then cut the benefits in half. (Watch video) It costs money and it can create dependency. Ninety-nine weeks is almost two years, but then again, many of Obama’s policies seemed to be designed to create dependency and a linkage between votes and goodies.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus, spent nearly a trillion dollars. In Tim Bishop’s district nearly $100 million was spent on school districts that reported an increase of fifteen jobs. We were promised if the stimulus passed, unemployment would peak at 8% and decline to around 6.5% by now. Bishop says the stimulus kept us from entering another Great Depression, but offers no proof other than his say so. And then we have this:

 

Like Obama, having never worked in the private sector, Bishop probably doesn’t know either what a project is and there weren’t many shovels at Southampton College before it folded. You have to give credit to Tim Bishop for having the courage to put it on his website, but he then tries to have you gloss over it by not calling it stimulus and making vague references to cutting taxes, foreclosures and infrastructure.

Infrastructure

Granted the coastline is arguably a federal responsibility and Bishop  should get credit for making sure it is maintained. But having the federal government involved in other local infrastructure projects is terribly wasteful. If a road in contained within the borders of a municipality, that municipality should be responsible for maintaining it. When the federal government gets involved, politicians say “free money.” But there is no such thing as a free lunch. If we get someone else’s tax dollars to pay for a road in Tim Bishop’s district, four hundred thirty-four other Congressmen will get our tax dollars to pay for roads in their districts and it won’t be don’t uniformly. As a “rich” state we will end up paying more out, than we get in. And when it appears that most of the money is coming from Washington, the locals aren’t particularly careful about how it is spent. Now if the people of Suffolk county have to foot the bill, they will be a bit more concerned that it is done right and without waste, or the local pols will pay.

Stop Outsourcing

This is Tim Bishop’s hope and prayer to get re-elected. Instead of “tax breaks’ and other “incentives” how about lowing the corporate tax rate so that we are no longer the highest among developed countries in the world? If outsourcing is evil, should all those American auto workers employed by Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes be sent back to their home country? After bailing out Chrysler, that company is now owned by Fiat. Should all of those employees be told they have to move to Italy? Basing his campaign on stopping outsourcing is not a badge of honor, it is a badge of ignorance of economics. Similar protectionism was done in the last Great Depression with the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and they made the Depression worse. Is that Mr. Bishop’s goal? Since he supports Obama’s programs and Obama is copying the programs of FDR that didn’t end the Great Depression for eight years, buckle up if Obama and Bishop get reelected, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. The best way to deal with outsourcing is to get out-of-the-way. It has good points and bad points. Let the market sort it out, not Tim Bishop.

H-2B Visas

There is a serious illegal immigrant problem that is plaguing the country and Bishop’s district. He talks about getting visas for guest workers to help farmers harvest their crops, but he says nothing about the illegal construction workers who are putting Americans out of work. There is a recent documentary on illegal immigration that when I watched it, the opening scene took me by surprise. It was shot in Southampton, Tim Bishop’s home town. The film is called They Come to America and it is worth watching.

Tim Bishop’s Top Economic Myths

When you first visit Congressman Bishop’s web site, there is a link to a page called “Top Myths About the US Economy.”  It features distortions straight out of the DNC talking points. Just like when the stimulus was pitched to us with the curious term “jobs saved”, something no economist knows how to measure, the so-called myths are similarly constructed. 

The US economy has been losing jobs under President Obama

Whenever the progressive talking heads try to defend President Obama’s record on the economy they only want to talk about the last twenty-four months, or twenty-eight months, but hasn’t President Obama been in office for forty-five months? It would be like talking about a baseball player who never hit a home run the whole season and in the last game hit three. What would you say to someone who bragged that he was a great home run hitter? But if challenged they would say, “Well he hit three home runs yesterday. Who else hit three home runs yesterday?” In that place where most of us live, the real world, we don’t get to cherry pick our good months and ignore our bad ones. We are evaluated on the whole picture. Here are the facts. Among first term presidents since 1920, only Herbert Hoover (-6.4 million) and Barack Obama (-1.15 million as of June 2012) have a net loss of jobs in their first term. Even Jimmy Carter has a better track record. Nice try, Tim.

Spending by the Obama administration has been out of control.

This one is a real stunner. Bishop’s web site claims that President Bush added five times more to the deficit than Barack Obama! When Bush was sworn in the national debt was $5.6 trillion. When Obama was sworn in it was $10.7 trillion an increase of $5.1 trillion over eight years. We know that during the Democratic National Convention the national debt surpassed $16 trillion and Obama’s term isn’t over yet. That’s $5.3 trillion. So how in the world does Tim Bishop come up with the gobsmacking statement that Bush added five times as much as Obama? He starts by saying that Bush added $5.1 trillion. Okay, we agree on that number. He then re-publishes a graph originally produced by Ezra Klein of the Washington post, claiming that Obama is only responsible for about $983 billion over two terms because many of the things in the budget didn’t start with him! Using that logic Bush should be excused for any spending on Social Security (charge that to FDR) or Medicaid and Medicare (give those to LBJ). Once again, it’s not Obama’s fault, any of it. This is downright deceitful.

Obama is exploding the size of government

Here Tim Bishop uses more distortion to claim that he and Obama are fiscal conservatives. Really! Tim’s “fact” is the government now has 273,000 FEWER employees than it did – under Reagan. What you need to exercise care in reading this distortion is the term “government”. He means all government including my local village of 1,200 residents, not just the federal government, which is what is under Obama’s control. Here is the truth:

Reagan  +6.5%

Bush  (6.8%)

Clinton  (16.3%)

Bush  1.9%

Obama (2009-2010)  5.6%

So in comparing the presidents, Reagan showed the greatest growth 6.5%, but Obama was second at  5.6%, but Reagan was over eight years, while Obama’s numbers are over two. Obama doesn’t decide the size of my local village police force, although he probably wishes he did.

So for three so-called myths, we have three distorted fabrications.

As James Carville coined the term in 1992, it’s the economy, stupid. Once again, it is the economy and Tim Bishop hopes you are stupid, because he has neither a plan nor a clue when it comes to the economy.

 

That’s my opinion; I’d like to know yours. Please comment below.

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