Obama's Swing State Strategy: Take Credit for GOP Accomplishments

In November 2010, U.S. voters gave the Republican Party majority status in the U.S. House of Representatives and narrowed the Democratic Party’s majority in the Senate. Perhaps as important, in retrospect, to the country’s economic well-being, newly elected GOP governors wrested control of ten statehouses while the party gained roughly 20 state legislative chambers.

Perversely, all the good work the nation’s Republican governors have done since then to keep their states afloat may end up benefiting the presidential reelection prospects of Barack Obama — if the GOP’s candidates and strategists let it happen. Early signs are that they might.

Generously assuming that the second quarter’s gross domestic product growth reading will come in at an annualized 2% (given the weak employment news of the past three months, is there really any chance that it will come in stronger than the first quarter’s 1.9%?), the nation’s economy has grown at a paltry, unacceptable 1.7% annual rate during the past six quarters. What has happened in Republican-dominated states since the 2010 elections may be all that has kept the country from avoiding another recession — so far.

A recent Examiner.com item by Robert Elliott noted that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has decreased since January 2011 in all 17 states which elected Republican governors in November 2010, especially in the ten where Republicans succeeded Democrats, and in the vast majority of cases by more than the overall national decline of 0.9 points from 9.1% to 8.2%. Just a few of the noteworthy declines since then through May 2012, the latest month available, include the following:

  • Ohio (from 9.0% to 7.3%) — Buckeye State Governor John Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature eliminated a projected $8 billion deficit without raising taxes. Kasich also turned down “free” federal funding for what would have been a disastrous “high-speed rail” debacle. Since then, the state has been able to add over $400 million to a previously fully depleted rainy day fund.
  • Michigan (from 10.9% to 8.5%) — Rick Snyder’s first year showed resolve similar to that exhibited by Kasich. The unemployment rate in the state outside of the basket case known as Metro Detroit is down to 7.7%.
  • Oklahoma (from 6.2% to 4.8%) — Immigration reforms passed several years ago helped the Sooner State keep its unemployment rate relatively low through the recession. Strong governance by Mary Fallin and a booming energy sector have brought its unemployment rate to within striking distance of full employment.
  • Wisconsin (from 7.7% to 6.8%) — The 0.9-point drop doesn’t seem impressive until you consider how many businesses have probably avoided locating or expanding in the Badger State until learning whether Governor Scott Walker would defeat the left’s recall effort. Until Walker prevailed, so-called “progressives” actively worked to thwart not only his public-sector reforms, but his efforts at bringing in new private-sector jobs.

Florida, where the unemployment rate has dropped from 10.9% to 8.6% since Sunshine State Governor Rick Scott took office, deserves an honorable mention. Though Scott technically didn’t succeed a Democrat, his predecessor Charlie Crist governed like one for four ugly years. Scott also resisted Uncle Sam’s “high-speed rail” temptations.

These five states owe their success to governing directly against the tax-and-spend, regulation-gone-wild, crony-capitalist model President Obama has been using in Washington. Meanwhile, Democratic governors who have largely embraced Obama’s agenda and have tried to apply it in their own states have seen results ranging from mediocre to disastrous.

The most obvious failure is California, home of the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate of 10.8%. Governor Jerry Brown’s once-Golden State has seen its projected budget deficit grow to $16 billion. A tax increase, accompanied by the usual “the world will end” threats if voters don’t acquiesce, will be on the November ballot. Not content to waste “high-speed rail” money earmarked for his state, Brown also gleefully gobbled up the funds Ohio and Florida forfeited, and is currently doing a victory lap over the state legislature’s recent approval of the $69 billion (before the inevitable cost overruns begin piling up) folly.

Other Democrat-governed states with serious ongoing problems precipitated primarily by progressivism include:

  • Illinois — The Associated Press reports that “not paying billions of dollars in bills for months at a time” is “the state’s policy.”
  • New York —  The unemployment rate in the Empire State has increased from 8.2% to 8.6%  since January 2011.
  • Connecticut — The Nutmeg State nuttily raised taxes by a record amount last year, yet still had to close a budget deficit back in May when (surprise!) tax revenues didn’t roll in as expected.

So why should any of this benefit an incumbent Democratic president who, deliberately or not (the argument in favor of the former becomes more powerful with each passing day), has seemingly done everything he can to hold back economic and job growth after claiming two years ago that “I will not rest until every American who is able and ready and willing to work can find a job”? Well, Obama and his apparatchiks want us to believe that his policies alone explain why many states, particularly key swing states, are recovering at all. Of course, President ‘Prompter also has an establishment press which will gladly play along with this outrageous mendacity. On the sycophantic surrogate front, Ted Strickland — Kasich’s Democratic predecessor who saw over 400,000 Buckeye State jobs disappear on his watch — recently claimed that “a more prosperous Ohio owes Obama a vote of thanks.”

You can’t make this up.

Thus far, the response to Obama’s fabulist framing from the Republican Party and presumptive nominee Mitt Romney has ranged from non-existent to pathetic. If you don’t counter it, folks, enough people to matter just might believe it.

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