ELECTION‘It’s the economy, stupid’

Published 11:10 pm Saturday, August 18, 2012

In crafting Bill Clinton’s election strategy in 1992, Democratic operative James Carville laid out three talking points for Clinton’s campaign. The second one read “economy, stupid.”

It has morphed over the years to define election year politics as, “it’s the economy, stupid” in laying out what is the dominating electoral factor.

Carville’s words are ringing true 20 years later. November’s presidential election — like most previous — will come down to the economy. As of Friday, according to government statistics, the U.S. National Debt surpassed $16 trillion, or a $51,000 bill for every American citizen. The federal deficit — how much more the government spends per year than it takes in — is $1.3 trillion. The Social Security unfunded liability is $16 trillion, while Medicare’s unfunded liability — what the government has promised its citizens — is $84 trillion. The overall U.S. unfunded liability is $120 trillion. The national unemployment rate has been higher than 8 percent for the past 40 months, while Warren County’s is at 10.9 percent.

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The economy will be front and center in November voting.

With Mitt Romney’s selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as vice presidential nominee, the battles lines on economic issues are fully drawn and highlight the chasm between the competing sides.

President Barack Obama is a government-first leader. He believes in social justice and economic engineering, using higher taxes on the affluent to balance the economic scales.

Romney’s vision is that of lowering taxes to spur growth in the private sector, lowering regulations for businesses and allowing people to use their freedoms to succeed or fail with limited government interference.

The contrasts of choice are as stark as they ever have been. Economically speaking, this will be as cut-and-dry an election choice as there has been for generations. It also will leave few truly “undecided” voters, although courting the undecideds will be a rallying cry from now until November.

Being as these candidates are so opposed, the opportunities to part and parcel sound-bite ads will be plenty. We urge voters to take each political ad with a hint of skepticism. High-priced public relations firms and advertising departments will rake in cash by crafting ads that dance around the truth or sometimes ignore the truth altogether. Those ads are geared toward the “undecideds,” but really they want the uninformed.

Informed voters know where they stand. They know what is important and which of these two candidates will be chosen to lead a damaged country for the next four years.

It’s the economy, stupid!