Strengthening economy forecasts Democrats' doom, Bush's reelection

    The year 2003 showed us many things. We saw a war in Iraq, a California recall and Democratic infighting for who will take on President George W. Bush in 2004. We also saw a dictator captured, a shuttle disaster and learned about a new disease called SARS.

    A little closer to home, we watched San Diego burn for days. Even closer, we saw the disqualification of the UCSD Students First! slate for breaking campus campaign laws. Yes, 2003 was quite a year, even for UCSD politics. National politics, on the other hand, may be disappointing to those wishing for a good presidential race this fall. Indeed, President Bush won’t need to disqualify the Democrats to win easily in ’04 ‹ he’s got the Bush economy to ride.

    The number-one economic indicator: where are the Dems on the economy? They’re hardly following President Bill Clinton’s famous axiom, “”It’s the economy, stupid,”” choosing instead to harp about difficulties in Iraq. And because presidential elections are famous for deciding themselves on matters economic, Bush seems a shoe-in for the White House. Democratic silence on the matter is reason enough to know the economy is on the rebound, and the best economic indicator of all can be said to be the inverse of the number of times an opposition party discusses the economy.

    Following a recession that began in late 2000 under Clinton, the tech-bubble bust of the late 1990s, 9/11 and a war in Iraq, the American economy has started to pick itself up as Democrats keep tight lips. And we have the Bush tax cuts that put money back into the hands of spenders to thank.

    One Associated Press analyst praised the cuts for stimulating a sagging economy.

    “”Bush’s latest round of tax cuts triggered a surge in consumer spending this summer as the government mailed out millions of child tax rebate checks,”” AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger concluded on Dec. 23 of last year. “”Analysts look for a further boost to spending in the first half of next year as consumers get fatter refund checks, reflecting the cuts in individual income tax rates.””

    Along with increased consumer confidence and spending, the Bush economy also experienced astonishing growth not seen since the 1980s. Add to that declining unemployment and you’ve got yourself a winning economy for a winning president in 2004.

    “”The Commerce Department reported that the overall economy grew at an annual rate of 8.2 percent in the July-September quarter … the best performance since the final three months of 1983,”” the same AP article stated. And “”[t]he jobless rate, which peaked at 6.4 percent this summer, fell to 5.9 percent in November.””

    Adding to the good news, dropping unemployment was the result of job gains in previous months, the Labor Department reported late last year, the gains even surprising the department itself.

    “”Employers boosted payrolls by 126,000 jobs in October,”” said The Boston Globe of the news last November. “”All told, the economy has created nearly 300,000 jobs over the past three months.””

    Furthermore, Americans claiming unemployment are at their lowest numbers in almost two years, the Labor Department reported on New Year’s Eve, falling to 339,000 to finish out 2003.

    Along with jobs, the stock market also seems to be doing well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 10,000 last month, the first time it had done so since May 2002. And days before the new year, the Nasdaq index also rose above its holy grail of 2,000 for the first time since Jan. 15, 2002. Additionally, the Nasdaq in 2003 posted its third best showing ever, rising by half through the year.

    Not to be outdone with the plethora of current good news about the American economy, a University of Michigan team of economists predicts that this is only the beginning. A November 2003 press release from the group stated that in the next two years the American economy will gain 5.2 million jobs while unemployment will dip down to 4.8 percent in 2005.

    But for all the good news, American deficits worry some. President Ronald Reagan received criticism for deficits run up during his presidency, and some are jumping on Bush for the same thing.

    However, the nation’s number-one economist seems to think deficits aren’t the imposing problem some would make them out to be. The key, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan believes, is in free trade.

    “”Spreading globalization has fostered a degree of international flexibility that has raised the possibility of a benign resolution to the U.S. current account imbalance,”” Greenspan said in a November conference.

    And now that Bush has repealed such silliness as the nearly two-year-old American steel tariffs, the real free trade can begin ‹ so can the good economy.

    With such a surging economy, coupled with forecasts that promise to bring even more growth and prosperity, who needs Democratic challengers? Certainly, President Bush, riding a wave of economic good news, seems capable of fighting off the best and worst of his challengers. But we’ll all go through the motions, following the caucuses and primaries closely, and see who will capture the Democratic nomination.

    Then we’ll watch Bush, barring some unforeseen change in the state of the economy, ride comfortably into the White House.

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