Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hoyer: Only My Political Party Can Save You from This Horrible Fake Problem

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) gave a big political speech today about the horrendous state of American manufacturing.  Here's The Hill previewing Hoyer's speech:
In the speech to be delivered at the National Press Club, Hoyer will lament the decline in homemade goods during the last three decades and highlight Democratic efforts to promote “Make It in America” policies as the November midterm elections draw closer.
“Manufacturing, and the middle-class economy it creates, is a part of the American character that we must not give up,” Hoyer plans to say, according to an excerpt released Monday.
Not reported in The Hill's rundown is one rather glaring problem with Hoyer's speech: American manufacturing doesn't actually suck.  Cafe Hayek's Don Boudreaux makes that fact clear in his scathing rebuttal letter to The Hill:
It's shameful that a person with such a strong grasp on power has such a weak grasp on reality. In 2008, the value of U.S. manufacturing output – measured in inflation-adjusted dollars – was 84 percent percent higher than it was in 1980. In 2009, despite the severe recession, the real value of U.S. manufacturing output was still nearly 60 percent higher than it was three decades earlier.

Mr. Hoyer and the many other politicians and pundits who keep insisting that U.S. manufacturing is dying remind me of the soldier in Stephen Crane's The Red Badge Courage who warned his fellow troops with great assurance, but with no evidence, that the army was finally to decamp the following morning: "He came near to convincing them by disdaining to produce proofs." The next morning the army remained in camp.

In fairness to these fictional soldiers, however, they – unlike Mr. Hoyer – had no access to overwhelming data that disprove their hallucinations.
Nice.  I'd only add that (i) even during our current economic malaise, American manufacturing has been doing relatively well (13 straight months of expansion), and (ii) while American manufacturing employment has declined over last several years, such reductions are happening everywhere in the world - in developed and developing countries, in nations with trade deficits and trade surpluses, and, yes, even in China - because of rising productivity and changing consumer tastes.  Oh, and not that it really matters, but the good ol' US of A is still the world's top manufacturer by value, folks.  (Cue the"we're #1" chant!)

So why would the House Majority Leader - the number three Democrat in the United States Congress - claim that American manufacturing stinks, despite the "overwhelming data that disprove his hallucinations"?

Obvious answer: to sell his party's big election-year plans, as The Hill also helpfully explains:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will tout the Democratic Party’s domestic manufacturing agenda, including a bill that could lead to tariffs on Chinese goods....

House Democrats are using the “Make It in America” theme to reach out to middle-class voters, particularly in Rust Belt states that have been hard hit by outsourcing. A centerpiece of the House agenda this week is a bill that targets China’s currency policy, which Democrats and the Obama administration have criticized as manipulative and unfair to American workers....

Another bill the House is expected to pass this week would require American flags purchased by the federal government to be domestically produced.
You see, it's rather difficult to sell your big campaign-season "solution," when it turns out that there is no real "problem" to "solve."  So in that rather inconvenient case, you make the problem up, and - BAM! - Democrats to the rescue!

Of course, as I've already mentioned several times, Leader Hoyer is hardly the only member of his party playing fast-and-loose with the facts in order to sell protectionist solutions that almost no one actually needs.  In fact, just this week Sen. Russ Feingold - facing increasingly abysmal poll numbers - got into the myth-selling act:

Leaving aside the hilarious contradiction that is a politician using an internet ad to deride innovation and progress (through creative destruction), here's the money quote for today's purposes: "according to independent analysis, unfair trade deals have resulted in the loss of over 64,000 jobs in Wisconsin."  But what Feingold fails to mention is that his scary job numbers come from union-backed and union-funded "think tank" and have been routinely debunked for almost a decade.  In short, this "independent analysis" is neither "independent" nor "analytical."

But other than that.....

Given the current state of the American economy, one must ask why incumbent Dems like Hoyer and Feingold feel the need to create fake problems to solve when so many real economic problems actually exist.  I mean, I get it that our "leaders" want to improve their electoral chances in November by "rescuing" us clueless voters from some impending "catastrophe," but with so many real crises out there, why pick a fake one?

Could it be that they don't want us to notice that their Party has been in charge of Congress for four years, and in total control of the American government for almost two more, and yet they've offered almost nothing in the way of real solutions to real problems?

Could it be that they need a defenseless scapegoat - dirty rotten foreigners(!) - on which they can blame all of America's ills because we're in deeper trouble now than we were back when they took over?

Could it be that if they were to offer real solutions to solve America's real problems, that their plans, while perhaps helpful for the nation, would further hurt their chances in November by highlighting just how dismal the last two years of Obamanomics (and Keynesianism) have been?

And could it be that, by emphasizing (and blatantly misleading the American public about) trade and the state of US manufacturing rather than trying to fix the problems they've helped create, Hoyer and his colleagues in Congress have undoubtedly proven just how desperate they are to maintain their power?

Nahhh, that just couldn't be it, now could it?


On a positive note, at least that awesome "American flag" legislation gives us further proof that, at this point, Congress has run completely out of ideas and is just acting out episodes of The Simpsons until they adjourn for the year.  And for that (and only that) I heartily applaud them:

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