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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

As you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, remember to have a little sympathy for your Republican relatives.

This was supposed to be their year. They took the Senate along with a vast majority of statehouses. They have a larger majority in the House than at any time since 1928. Rick Perry even got smart glasses.

But the weeks following the GOP’s landslide victories have been full of painful reminders that Barack Obama is still president, and that probably won’t change for at least two more Thanksgivings. They’ve had to endure him rubbing their noses in this fact by forcing them to Google “net neutrality,” delaying their plans for war with Iran, and taking executive action that will put off the deportations of millions of relatives of American citizens. And he hasn’t even invited Mitt Romney to move into the White House yet.

How dare he?

So expect your Fox-viewing kin to be downing antacids before dinner. And those odd packages under their seats won’t be explosives — but emergency rations and gold, in case O’Bungler declares martial law and demands a third term while we’re all in a turkey coma.

But if you make it to dessert and your uncle wants to rub in some election results, here are a few truth nuggets to salt his defensive wounds. To make sure he takes you seriously, tell him you read them all in email forwards.

1. More net jobs have been created under Obama than under both Bushes combined.

That’s right. In less than 6 years, more new jobs have been created under this president than in 12 full years of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. As of last August’s jobs report, 5,142,000 net jobs have been created since February 2009. Compare that to 2,637,000 under H.W. and 1,282,000 under W. And we’ve had about 200,000 new jobs a month since then.

Of course, if you don’t subtract the millions of jobs that were lost as Obama inherited W.’s economy, Obama’s number would grow to over 10 million.

Savvy Fox viewers will throw out two counter-spells to undo this unbearable fact. First, we still haven’t recovered all the full-time jobs lost in the Great Recession. Also, the labor force participation rate is at its lowest point since the 1970s. You could then point out that Baby Boomers have started retiring, which is a good thing, and people are spending more time in school. But I’d concede the point. “You’re right,” you can say, as UC Berkeley economist Brad DeLong has. “The economy is crappy. Just far less crappy than it was under both Bushes. And better than just about every other economy in the world.”

And it’s getting better. The rolling average of new unemployment claims — our best measure of layoffs — is at its lowest point since 2000. There haven’t been this many job openings since the end of the Clinton administration, and this could easily be the best year of job creation since 1999. And it could be a lot better — if Republicans weren’t intentionally sabotaging it.

2. If Obama had grown spending the way Reagan or W. did, we’d be much better off.

Like Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan inherited a recession and unemployment over 10 percent. And, much as it did under Obama, our national debt doubled during Reagan’s first term.

Unlike Reagan, who grew spending by 40 percent in his first four years, Obama has cut the deficit every year he’s been in office. The deficit is now lower than it has been since 2008, and even lower this year than what it would have been if we’d implemented Paul Ryan’s radical 2011 budget plan.

Given low inflation and millions of Americans still out of work, this is bad economic strategery. If spending had grown under Obama as it did under W., our gross domestic product would be 2 percent higher and millions more people would be working. And a larger labor force is the only sustainable way to cut the deficit.

“Grumble, grumble, shovel-ready stimulus Solyndra,” your uncle will answer.

Ah. I was hoping he’d bring that up.

3. We need more Solyndras.

Everything Republicans believe about the stimulus is wrong. About 97 percent of economists agree that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act lifted the economy. And the most maligned part of that law was one of its most successful aspects.

In 2012, Michael Grunwald, who literally wrote the book on the stimulus, countered the GOP’s constant harping on the failure of Solyndra Corp., beneficiary of a loan program that fed billions into clean energy, by saying, “More, please!”

“Solyndra was one of the losers, but the winners might change the world,” he wrote.

Grunwald was right — and the right was wrong. The loan program is now expected to just about break even, but even more important, it has helped create a green-tech industry that barely existed in this country before 2009.

How successful were these profitable cash injections into clean energy?

“The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas,” reports The New York Times‘ Diane Cardwell.

And how did the stimulus make this possible? By doing little things like helping the largest solar plant in the U.S. get up and running.

The affordability of new energy sources, along with America’s oil boom, may be behind Saudi Arabia’s decision to flood the oil market and lower gas prices in hopes of stunting both industries. (Thanks, Obama.)

But the genie is out of the bottle and the world we save may be the one we all currently share.

4. Republicans are paying the richest to get richest-er.

While your uncle is recovering from that news, slip this in: “I really hope Mitt Romney runs in 2016.”

“Me too, I think,” he may reply. “But why?”

“Well, I love documentaries about Mitt Romney losing. Also, I still want to see his tax returns. I think they’re the most important historical documents of the early 21st century. It’s important to know your tax rate is higher than a quarter-billionaire.”

“Um. More pie, please.”

One big reason that President Obama had an easy time making a case about the economy in 2012 is that Mitt Romney was a living example of what’s gone so wrong. Mitt pays around 13 percent in taxes, he claims, while nurses and plumbers pay far higher rates. The richest 400 Americans pay 18 percent on average, probably because they don’t donate as much to their church as Mitt does. That’s down from 30 percent in 1996, just before the GOP demanded a huge capital gains tax cut for the rich in exchange for giving poor kids health insurance. W. cut those rates again and added a huge cut for stock dividends. Because we all know going to the mailbox to get a check is harder work than unclogging a sewer or caring for a sick child.

Tax breaks for investments — and the people who manage them — are supposed to grow the economy. Instead, they massively grow the wealth of the richest .01 percent. Between 1929 and 1980, half of all wealth went to the bottom 90 percent. Since then, only 12 percent has.

Inequality is higher than it’s been since 1928. And you know what happened in 1929.

“Then why hasn’t that libturd Obama done anything about it?”

He has. You’ve just been trained to hate it. But here’s the good news.

5. The Affordable Care Act makes you freer — even if you hate it.

Even if you aren’t one of the 1 in 4 uninsured Americans who has gained health insurance this year, the president’s health law helps you.

At this point your uncle may yell that he lost the plan he loved, or read about someone somewhere who did. Have sympathy. That certainly sucks, and Democrats should have pointed out that some people would lose their plans as the nation moved toward a more secure system — but no more than lose their plans in a typical year. But what about premiums!? They’re much lower than expected and better, in most cases, than they were before the law took effect.

Now if you lose your insurance, you can still get coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition. This gives you the freedom to start a business or retire early. And the law has added at least a decade of solvency to Medicare so it will be there when you retire. Even people who hate the word Obamacare enjoy the coverage they’re getting.

Under eight years of George W. Bush, 7.9 million Americans lost their health insurance. In just this year, 10.3 million Americans have gained coverage.

But the law isn’t perfect, sure. So invite your uncle to help give the insurance industry some competition by fighting for the right for all Americans to buy into Medicare, regardless of how old they are (or how much pie they’ve eaten).

BONUS: Benghazi!

Now that an eighth investigation has shown that Benghazi was a tragedy, not a scandal, be aware that your uncle will not be ready to accept this inconvenient fact. Urging him to do so may lead to a full-on Bill O’Reilly-type break from reality that could unsettle everyone’s stomachs.

So if at any point you want to change the subject, just say, “Benghazi!” And he’ll start talking about anything else.

Photo: George W. Bush pardons the 2007 Thanksgiving turkey, in happier times for your paranoid uncle (White House Photo/Chris Greenberg, via Wikimedia Commons)

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  • Mary Ann Hoogeveen

    My relatives and friends are democrats and my husbands Palin like family we decided years ago to avoid at all costs and it works out great!

    • latebloomingrandma

      My family has also agreed to not talk politics anymore. One reason–we all like wine. With each bottle consumed, we would get louder and louder!

      • FT66

        With each of you consuming a bottle of wine, I really doubt if you all will stick on your agreement of not talking about politics.

  • FireBaron

    Here are some of my rejoinders:
    1. When they complain about the lack of full time jobs, my counter is the people paying for the Republican Campaigns don’t want to create full-time jobs with their associated benefits. After all, it may reduce their personal income by 00.001% to create a full time job, and they cannot afford to suffer an $80,000 loss that way.
    2. If Obama spent the way Reagan did, they would be denouncing him for deficit financing.
    3. Why is it that Republicans have no problem with single-bid contracts for military defense spending, with all their inflated numbers and delayed deliveries for products that the Pentagon neither wants nor needs, but scream whenever a federal grant goes to an innovator?
    4. See my comment on #s 1 and 3
    5. For people who have a health care program that makes me jealous of the health care I received while in the US Navy, they have a lot of brass talking about not allowing every American to have the same access to health care they they enjoy.
    6. To which I can only use Einstein’s definition of Insanity – running the same experiment over and over again and expecting different results.

    • Dominick Vila

      It also takes a lot of nerve for the party that was in control of the WH and Congress when 9/11 took place, and when 11 U.S. diplomatic facilities were attacked, to suggest that somehow Benghazi was an unprecedented tragedy.
      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving…and enjoy the picture of the two turkeys!

  • itsfun

    The best way to ruin a wonderful holiday is to start talking about politics during dinner!

  • WhutHeSaid

    Although I happily don’t have any Republican relatives that I’m aware of, one of my favorites with the constant Obama-blaming is to simply agree with them that it’s all Obama’s fault that [insert any of the world’s ills here]. I just respond that I’m amazed at how Obama is able to single-handedly cause all of this misery, and “Why, just this morning I ran out of toilet paper, and I just know it was one of Obama’s evil plots!”. They Obama-basher may nod and agree with you, but most bystanders will quickly get the point.

  • TZToronto

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of my National Memo friends (and even those I argue with). May you all have agreeable conversations as you eat your turkeys, pumpkin pies, etc. Avoiding political topics will almost guarantee a happy time.

  • pisces63

    My family, loaded with woman, would prefer a football or basketball game. Conversation would include, do you remember????? yes, and…….? I remember that, too. LOLOLOL!! I have four sisters and we, who had children, have 5 daughters. There are two sons. There are sons-in-law. Our alpha males, uncles, my dad and my husband, we lost 11 and 12 years ago and the loss is still felt. We ARE a black family. The next generation? 2 grandsons and 6 granddaughters. May you enjoy and calories and sugar and fat be damned. ENJOY!!!!!!

    • pisces63

      I intend to get a bourbon Manhattan, too. Plenty of cherries in it.

  • ram1020

    Thanksgiving isn’t the time to argue Fox spin against National Memo spin. Anyone with an ounce of decency and respect for their family (no matter what their politics are) would avoid this kind of discussion on a holiday. Family is more important than either party.

  • FT66

    I do not think about Thanksgiving this year. Politics this year has been too toxic. Sitting on the same table with republican family, I presume the food might taste sour, better to wait until Christmas time when we can all enjoy together by singing Christmas Carols.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    There’s one common thread of those five things: they’re the truth….
    However, you must understand something: the GOP began its Fascist “gaslighting” propaganda campaign way back in 1920. Proof that it’s still in effect and working well are the election results earlier this month.
    So, even when you tell the truth to many Republicans, they’ve already been conditioned (or brainwashed) to simply pass off the truth as “Socialist propaganda”.
    I most likely will be spending tomorrow with some of my relatives. One relative is a Republican; another one is a Libertarian. My strategy is to keep my mouth shut as much as possible and let them rant and rave all they want. You can’t reason with the unreasonable (aka, the insane), so, to try and do so is an exercise in futility. Sadly, one of the 10 Tenets of the GOP is insanity. One of the five Tenets of the Libertarians is delusions of grandeur.

  • holyreality

    NOBODY wants me over, while I eschew modern politics, I always harp on about how native Americans got shafted and our gluttony insults the memory of their genocide.

    • Duckbudder

      Buzz Kill;-)

      • holyreality

        Ignorance is bliss 🙂

  • Louis Allen

    What an inane article. The content of this inconsequential article can best be described as “Dems licking their wounds”.
    Obamacare premiums “…much lower than expected and better, in most cases, than they were before the law took effect.”
    THAT’s a gooooood one !!
    Keep licking your wounds as a rehearsal of what’s going to happen to you in 2016.

    • Duckbudder

      See ExRadioGuy15 above.

      So, even when you tell the truth to many Republicans, they’ve already been conditioned (or brainwashed) to simply pass off the truth as “Socialist propaganda”.