Barone: Why Voters Think the Economy Is in Trouble
While the media have been talking down the economy for the past four years on gas prices, recession, housing and more, there may be another reason so many voters perceive the economy to be in poor shape.
According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, voters think the economy is a more important issue than the Iraq war now. The poll also revealed 57 percent of voters think the
âThe median age voter in this election will have been born about 1966. âThey never waited behind a steering wheel in a half-hour gas line,â explained Michael Barone, a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and the principal co-author of âThe Almanac of American Politics.â Baroneâs comments came while he was promoting his new book in
Barone continued, âThey never tried to pay weekly bills with getting more deducted from their paycheck by bracket [creep] and seeing their bills climb upward because of inflation. They werenât paying weekly bills until the 1980s. And, theyâve experienced this low inflation, economic growth 95 percent of the time in their adult lives.â (Click here for audio.)
â[T]his is a new electorate,â Barone said. âThe median voter in 2006 will have been born on or about the year 1966. They donât remember the 70s and I think thatâs important on economic issues.â
In the 70s, Barone explained, many âgovernment solutionsâ and âregulationsâ about the economy were discredited by the gas lines, stagflation and low economic growth.
As history points out, those liberal economic policies failed according to Barone.
âGoing into the 1980 election, liberal economists, who in the mid-1960s when I took âEc Iâ at Harvard said, âHey we got the answer â we can give you low inflation, economic growth forever â just a couple of public policy levers, we know how to do it,ââ Barone said. âBy the late-1970s, theyâre saying, âyou people are childish for wanting low inflation, economic growth. Again, just keeping things humming along with high inflation and no growth is about the best you can expect, so become adult and think about it and so forth.â
Voters who are too young to remember the 70s have only seen how great the economy can be, so they are more likely to think the economy is struggling now.
âStarting in 1983, 25 years ago next month, weâve had 25 years where weâve had low inflation, economic growth 95 percent of the time,â Barone said. âThe stuff those economists said could no longer happen has happened almost all the time and I think that has effected our political environment for a long time.â
On December 12, CNNâs Ali Velshi told âAmerican Morningâ viewers he is not trying to âstart a recession or stop one,â but âto tell you what you guys are thinking about a recession [referring to the CNN poll results] and see where it goes.â But according to Barone, the âyou guysâ he is referring to have no idea what a troubled economy looks like.
How the public âfeelsâ about the economy and how politicians tell them the economy is, isnât necessarily a true gauge of the economy.
âVotersâ view of the economy today, as I pointed out in the introduction, is not really a view of the economy,â Barone added.
âDemocrats now are talking quite differently,â Barone said. âTheyâre basically calling for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, which is in effect a tax increase. Theyâre calling for in varying amounts and in different ways government-directed health care proposals. And theyâre talking to an electorate which I think is conceivably more â could be more attracted to these things than the electorate in 1992.â