Monday, July 23, 2007

The economy that’s never good enough

Ever notice how whenever a Republican is in the White House or the Governor’s Mansion, the economy is never quite good enough? Even if it’s firing on all cylinders, the media laboriously caveats all positive news with pessimistic warnings of what bad developments might occur.

Even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through the 14,000 mark, liberal media outlets couldn’t report the good news without ominous cautions. On Thursday’s ABC’s World News, substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas led the broadcast with news of the record close but quickly fretted that “there’s a good deal of worrisome economic news these days – from sky-high gas prices to America’s gaping trade deficit.” Reporter John Bergman continued with a piece noting that, while the Dow took only three months to rise 1,000 points from 13,000 to 14,000, he marveled it did this, “despite those serious jitters about the U.S. economy: three-dollar gas, a major housing slump – a drag on the U.S. economy.” He concluded with a gloomy note about “disappointing earnings reports from Google” and that “it may mean that the mood tomorrow won’t be quite so rosy.”

This angle was consistent with the line taken by CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric back in April when the Dow broke the 13,000 mark when she worried that “even as investors are making money in the market, Anthony Mason reports there are concerns tonight about the rest of the U.S. economy.” (Can anyone recall a time in our nation’s history when there wasn’t concern about our economy?) Mason’s report noted that “…Wall Street and Main Street appear to be headed in different directions. While the stock market’s been racing ahead, the economy has been slowing down. Housing is mired in a slump.”

It’s a bit like getting a health check-up and being told you’re in great physical shape – but you might get cancer. Or you could get hit by a bus. Or maybe you’ll get struck by lightening. Unfortunate potential developments (in any conceivable area of life) will always loom on the horizon.

Similarly, here in Minnesota there is no amount of economic good news good enough for the DFL. Even this past week’s announcement of job growth rate more than doubling that of last year was greeted with dismal spinning by DFL leaders. Given all their dire warnings earlier this year of the state’s imminent infrastructural collapse were Governor Pawlenty not to sign their massive tax increases, one can understand their refusal to acknowledge such positive economic developments.

Were the media consistent in their coverage, however, all of this would be far less disconcerting. When Bill Clinton was president, such economic news lacked such equivocation. (Given the fact that Democrats haven’t occupied the Minnesota governor’s office in a generation, I can’t speak to what state economic reporting looked like back then.)

As long as Republicans occupy the chief executive positions nationally and here in Minnesota, don’t expect any unadulterated good economic news. None. Zilch. Nada.

It is rather obvious that much of Minnesota’s economic progress can be attributed precisely to Governor Pawlenty’s adamant refusal not to raise taxes. And liberal Democrats can’t afford to admit it.

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