The results of the midterm elections Tuesday are almost completely in and the outcome was an enormous surprise.
The results tell us that the country as a whole voted more conservatively. How on Earth could this happen? Don’t Americans realize that our current president has already accomplished so much that he should be regarded as the best president in history?
If you take the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into consideration, conservative voting makes sense. This government stimulus bill saved our country’s economy from collapsing. Sure, the current unemployment rate is still at 9.6 percent — but everyone knows that’s President Barack Obama and his party’s fault.
Many Tea Party and Republican candidates touted issues like jobs during the midterm races that would decide this election. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) was the one to refrain, “Where are the jobs?” shortly after the stimulus was passed.
Everyone should be glad that Boehner will soon become the Speaker of the House, because he has a plan to fix the economy.
“And for all those families asking ‘where are the jobs?,’ it means ending the uncertainty in our economy and helping small businesses get people back to work,” Boehner said last night during his GOP victory speech.
Boehner has been carefully listening to the American people, unlike his president. Boehner has a plan for those worried American families — even more uncertainty.
Boehner has aggressively campaigned for extending the Bush tax cuts — tax cuts that will add $4 trillion to the deficit over ten years and $830 billion of that will go to the richest 2 percent of Americans.
This is nothing to worry about, though, and the American people know it. It doesn’t matter that Boehner or any Republican or Tea Party candidate can’t explain how they’ll make up for this loss in government revenue — what matters is that future generations won’t be buried by mountains of debt.
It also doesn’t matter that tax cuts are extremely unpredictable. When the economy is recovering or struggling to recover, Boehner and many other supporters are positive that the Bush tax cuts will instantly create jobs. That neighbor you have who has been out of work won’t be unemployed for much longer — just wait until Boehner and his republican-controlled house roll up their sleeves.
Simple logic — the kind your instincts provide for you — is what Boehner and the GOP capitalized off of. That same logic, though, is also what should have you worried. When unemployment is high because of a weak economy and there’s a weak demand for American products, instincts tell us to save all the extra cash we can get our hands on.
This good logic also has a downside, though, because businesses use it too. The companies that employ us know that business cycles and the economy can be volatile. Unexpected things happen. When they do, it behooves companies to have extra cash on hand.
Given our economic climate, our instincts should tell us that tax cuts would be wise to hold on to. Very few businesses or people don’t enjoy the ability to daydream about how they would spend a tax cut.
Boehner was savvy, though — he bypassed his instincts and logic and sold many Americans on conservative rhetoric that was based upon something completely illogical.
Boehner, along with many Republicans and Tea Party candidates used a tactic that you’re likely familiar with. Car salespeople are notorious for hounding you on the benefits and avoiding the costs. If you were considering another car from a different maker, forget about it — those cars are poor quality and less American.
Great ideas and movements sell themselves, which is why it is so surprising that the GOP and Tea Party supporters spent the most for the midterm elections. According to a story published on NPR.org, FEC data tallied by the Sunlight Foundation reported $119.2 million in spending for Republicans compared to $74 million for Democrats. Outside political groups, the US Chamber of Commerce spent $30 million alone on ads for Republicans in congressional races, according to opensecrets.org.
The re-election of Texas Gov. Rick Perry was also a huge surprise. Perry employed the same tactics that his own party used in the congressional races. It was even less surprising of Perry to use the car salesman approach.
It was no surprise that Perry started campaigning on the strong economy of Texas. The facts behind the economic strength of Texas have much to do with industries that were not affected by the recession and have little to do with anything Perry implemented.
Education is becoming the fastest growing problem for our state and Perry has no solution. Texas ranks 49th in verbal SAT scores according to the Texas Comptrollers website. Texas also ranks 36th in high school graduation rates and 33rd in teacher salaries. In 2005, Texas was the only state to cut per-pupil spending, resulting in a ranking of 40th nationally.
It won’t be a surprise when things get worse, because Texas ranks 6th in public school growth. When it comes to higher education, tuition and fees for public universities increased by 61.4 percent and 51.3 percent for community colleges during the 2002-2006 fiscal years. The spending per student in real dollars was cut by 20 percent for universities and 35 percent for community colleges in the 2002-2007 fiscal years.
But to those who follow politics closely, the midterm elections were no surprise. Many who study politics know about the pendulum effect — after the sweeping democratic victories of 2008, the pendulum was due to swing conservative.
It doesn’t matter if the policies of the current administration have worked or had positive effects, what matters is that it isn’t easily seen and — in this case — poorly communicated.
The only thing that is truly surprising is that both Republicans and Democrats have failed at solving our nation’s real problems together. The only thing either party has managed to do is re-elect themselves — and the most surprising thing of all is how Americans seem content with this.
Andrew Taylor is an economics senior and can be reached at email@example.com.