By all measures, the American economy is on fire. At the end of President Obama’s terms in office, it was considered to be sluggish and even on the precipice of decline. The growth rate had dropped below two percent. That is what the statistics and trend lines told us.
Hillary Clinton and her supporters in the media attempted to use economic fearmongering to gain votes in the last days of the campaign. They predicted that the election of Trump would crash the market. The strategy failed and rather than crashing, the market commenced a recording breaking bull market the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The new energy in the market was based initially on nothing more than an optimism that Trump and the Republicans would eliminate many of the Democrat programs, policies and regulations that were retarding growth.
In a previous commentary, “Reporters are not economists”, I drew attention to the fact that the media advances economic narrative based on political biases through reporters and editorialists who know very little about economic principles and statistics. Though they talk like they know economics, they do not.
One of the best examples of this is CNN’s periodic pairing of presidential-advising economist Steve Moore and the Washington Post’s opprobrious editorial writer Catherine Rampell. Moore deals with the issues as one of the nation’s leading economists. He knows his stuff.
Rampell is a strident left-winger. She has two traits that characterize much of the elitist east coast media. She is arrogant and rude – making every effort to not allow anyone with a different viewpoint or different facts to express themselves. After offering up her ill-informed screeds based on biased interpretations of selective statistics, she loses no opportunity to interrupt or talk over Moore.
In the most recent debate between Moore and Rampell, not only was the latter’s mendacious approach to economic statistics in full view but the bias of CNN was obvious to anyone with an objective observant mind.
The most obvious bias was seen when CNN host Alisyn Camerota took the side of Rampell on virtually every point. That that is not new. That is standard practice on CNN. They do not do that on MSNBC because they never invite guests with a counterpoint argument.
Rampell claimed that month-to-month job increases were actually lower than they were under Obama. At that point, there appeared on the screen a bar graph that appeared to support Rampell’s claim. It showed more than 200,000 jobs being created in 2014 and 2015. Camerota chimed in with the claim that the Trump average is 192,000 jobs created each month. Now you had two journalists – not economists – taking on the professional economist by using specious interpretations of the numbers to advance a preconceived narrative.
Interestingly, a second graph appeared that was also created to support one of Rampell’s points. When Moore made very relevant points, no such graphics appeared. In other words, CNN and Rampell had COLLUDED … yes, colluded … before the broadcast to provide the Post’s editorialist with the full support of the station. CNN was working with Rampell in advance to intentionally undermine whatever evidence Moore would provide. It was a bit of an ambush.
But even the interpretation of the graphics was misleading. While Obama could claim higher job growth back in 2014, the bar graphs on the screen showed a decline in subsequent years. In other words, the economy in all measures was declining in the last years of the Obama administration. Both Rampell and Camerota proved their ignorance of economics or were intentionally deceptive – and most likely both.
Obama was producing low pay and part-time jobs when there was high unemployment. He could produce more jobs because they were lousy jobs and there was a much high number of Americans in need of jobs. Producing 200,000 jobs when there is five percent unemployment is a lot easier than creating 200,000 jobs when there is less than four percent unemployment. Using Rampell’s logic, if Trump were to achieve 100 percent employment, Rampell would argue it is bad because there were no new jobs being created.
Rampell also ignores wage growth. In many ways, that is more important than the number of jobs. It is the amount of expendable income in the hands of consumers that drives economic growth. Spending is up because people have more money to spend due to wage increases, new employment and the tax cuts. All that was being oppressed under Obama.
To fully understand how Rampell manipulates selective statistics and merges them with specious interpretations to advance her partisan political viewpoint, you need only understand that it was the newspaper upon which she serves on the editorial board – the Washington Post – that produced that politically motivated editorial claiming that Trump’s election would crash the market. Keeping that in mind, there is no reason to trust Rampell’s knowledge or honesty when it comes to economics – or much of anything else.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.