In a “Meet the Press” panel discussion Sunday, bestselling author and Townhall contributing editor Ken Blackwell shot down Chuck Todd’s suggestion that recent economic numbers proved that conservatives’ arguments against Democrat policies were “uncredible.” Blackwell contended that the glowing economic numbers Todd quoted did not tell the full story and that the “real number” to note was the abysmal labor participation rate, which recently fell to its lowest since 1978, and the record number of Americans on food stamps.
Todd led in to the panel discussion by presenting a series of numbers “proving” that Obama’s policies had succeeded in restoring the economy. The host pointed out that the economy grew by an average of nearly 5% in the last six months and unemployment is now down to 5.8%, the lowest since the recession hit. He also cited improved consumer confidence and plummeting fuel costs as more evidence of a substantial economic turnaround under Obama’s presidency.
After playing some “random” clips of House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Mitt Romney criticizing the left for their anti-job policies, a broadly grinning Todd turned to Blackwell and suggested that the Republicans’ talking points about Democrat economic policies and Obamacare were all now proven “uncredible.” Blackwell wasn’t buying it:
Todd: What is the criticism? The criticism didn’t really take hold, meaning the economy did grow. We have added jobs. The healthcare law hasn’t taken jobs away. Does that make the Republican rhetoric essentially uncredible?
Blackwell: Not in the least bit. Let me sort of tack on to what Luke [Russert, who had expressed “skepticism” about some of the numbers] just said. The real number to look at here is at the labor participation rate, which is at the lowest it’s been in almost 40 years. We have a wave of legislative regulation that’s getting ready to have an impact: the EPA, Obamacare is kicking into full bloom and others which will, in fact, slow down capital investment. We had $2 trillion sitting on the fence because of government overreach. But at the same time, everyday people—50 million people on food stamps, record numbers. While I don’t want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas, and I’m a cheerleader for growth, I’m also a realist. I think that we have to look at how sustainable these numbers are and what they really reflect and what they don’t reflect.
After some discussion with other panelists, Todd eventually returned to his initial argument that the glowing economic picture he’d presented earlier was the “biggest thing that could shake things up” in the 2016 race, adding that it could potentially provide Hillary Clinton with something positive to which she could attach herself in the presidential campaign.