Trailing Democrat Mark Warner by 25 points in the two most recent statewide polls, Gillespie, an advisor to former President George W. Bush, can’t be faulted for throwing the kitchen sink at anything and everything Democratic.
But is he right with his criticisms of the Obama-Warner era? Let’s take a look at a long soliloquy from Gillespie in his remarks to voters in Buena Vista:
“Too many hard-working Virginians are feeling squeezed today because of the policies that are coming out of Washington. We’re squeezed because of lost jobs, lower take-home pay, stagnant wages, and skyrocketing health-insurance premiums. Energy prices that are double what they were five and a half years ago. A gallon of gas is double what it was five and a half years ago. We’ve got one and a half percent economic growth in our economy, according to the Congressional Budget Office this week. More businesses are closing than opening in Virginia today. That’s true all across America. And we are hovering near the lowest labor-force participation rate in 35 years. And that is not somehow a matter of fate. That is a result of bad policies.”
First, “skyrocketing health-insurance premiums.” True, true. Continuing a long-term trend, health insurance costs continue to rise. During the Bush administration, the average cost for single and family premium coverage nearly doubled, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and in the Obama years, we’ve seen the costs continue to rise an additional 25 percent.
In case you missed that, health insurance costs doubled, i.e. were up 100 percent, in the Bush years, and are up 25 percent in the Obama years.
Skyrocketing, indeed. Not as much as they were before Obama, but still, you know, yeah.
Next, to energy prices and gas prices being double what they were five and a half years ago. Well, six years ago, in July 2008, the start of the last six months of the Bush presidency, gas topped out at an all-time high of $4.12 a gallon, before beginning a decline all the way to $1.61 a gallon on Dec. 31, 2008.
What caused that rapid decline in gas prices? Remember what was going on in the world in the second half of 2008? A recession that was verging on becoming a depression was hot and heavy. Declining economic activity pushed down demand for gas, and thus prices bottomed out.
The idea that this was a good thing is patently ridiculous.
He’s 100 percent right on with this one. That’s exactly what the CBO projected this week. From the same report, the CBO is projecting 3.4 percent growth in 2015 and 3.4 percent growth in 2016. The latest CBO report also projects unemployment dipping below 6 percent (from a high of 10.0 percent in October 2009) and worker compensation rising 3.5 percent a year from 2015-2017.
Not exactly the picture of an economy with hard-working Americans “squeezed because of lost jobs, lower take-home pay, stagnant wages.”
“More businesses are closing than opening in Virginia today. That’s true all across America.”
This one is true, and concerning. The trend began in 2007 at the start of the recession, and we’ve not seen it reverse. Republicans blame Obama and Democrats for generally fostering a climate of overregulation; Democrats blame Republicans for cuts to spending programs that foster economic innovation and for playing politics with our country’s finances.
“And we are hovering near the lowest labor-force participation rate in 35 years.”
Again, also true. The labor force has been getting smaller since 2003, which if memory serves, was the middle of the first term of the Bush administration that Gillespie served in. No doubt Gillespie then wouldn’t have allowed a Democrat to get away with blaming an aging American population that is leaving the work force on bad Republican policies, even as he is now blaming the even more rapidly aging American population leaving the work force on bad Democratic policies.
Give him an A for effort.
– Column by Chris Graham