Young and poor will be hurt most by Obama’s economy
By David Kearsley
What we learned when Barack Obama first ran for president is that he knows how to run an election campaign. We shouldn’t have been surprised that he could do it again.
He successfully blamed President George W. Bush for the economy — which was the worst for any sitting president who was re-elected.
He recycled the old idea that Republicans are waging a war on women and he got some traction for this claim, thanks to the nasty Republican primary. Then, just when it seemed to be fading away, along came Obamacare rules that mandate every employer provide insurance coverage for birth control.
The Catholic Church saw this as an attack on its religious freedom because it was not exempted from providing coverage in its many charitable institutions. The president made the political judgment that the female vote was much more important to him than bending to the will of Catholic bishops.
Republicans jumped in with both feet and supported the Catholic Church. As a result, the president had many in his female base believing Republicans would take away birth control and the right to an abortion. A president doesn’t have the power to do that, but in politics it’s all about perception.
One of the president’s most brilliant political moves came earlier this year when he gave the Hispanic community the Dream Act-lite by executive order. It is legally questionable, but by the time any legal action could be resolved, the election was over. All of a sudden, he had a lock on this voting bloc.
Obama had promised immigration reform in the first year of his administration and he could have delivered, but he was too busy. You would think that would cause Hispanic voters to think twice about giving him a second chance, but this executive order provided enough cover. Of course, when Republicans pointed out the problems with this approach, they were painted as anti-immigration.
In Mesa County we have significant populations of Hispanics, Catholics and women. We have our share of those who are young and poor, struggling to establish themselves.
What makes us different is a high percentage of the money that flows into our valley is retirement income, and that tends to be a steady flow. One of the results is St. Mary’s Hospital employs the most people in the county, and with good wages.
Retirees and their funds also provide significant support to other service providers and retail establishments. The next biggest employer is the government — cities, the county and state. Government jobs, including those at the university, are safe.
The oldest economic segments of our economy are ranching, agriculture, mining and energy. They add to our stable income.
The economic sector that will continue to lag if economic growth is stagnant is construction. Growth in construction requires growth in population and, in the past, that came in part from the influx of retirees as well as people needed to support the energy sector. The impact of the housing bust lingers and the impact on the construction industry persists.
Will the economy be stronger the next four years than it was the past four years?
One of the most effective campaign strategies of the president was the demonization of his opponent for being a mean, rich, successful capitalist. There are those in our country who are anti-capitalist, but that attitude still doesn’t sit well with a majority of voters, so it needs to be disguised.
Now it is the attack on “the 1 percent,” a new code word. Progressives aren’t anti-capitalists, they simply want to spread the wealth and give everyone a fair chance to succeed.
Of course, we already have a fair chance, but it is found in a system that rewards merit.
The most successful drivers of a vibrant, growing economy are the 1 percent and those who are striving to be in the 1 percent. Until we have leadership that recognizes this, I am afraid we will continue to limp along.
Most of us on the Western Slope will do fine. The old Western and Hispanic principals of self-reliance and independence will get us through.
It is the poor and the young who will suffer most. They need the entry-level jobs that Obamacare discourages. They suffer from the slow growth caused by the drag on the economy of additional taxes and regulations.
The good news for those who are poor and in need is another principle of the West: We help our neighbors who are in need. No community provides more help than ours.
David Kearsley is a financial adviser in Grand Junction and a resident of Mesa.