Economic Outlook: How many gaps?

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Oct. 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM
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A so-called nonpartisan think tank in Washington contends that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney could not keep his campaign promises if he tried.

The Tax Policy Center says Romney's promises are impossible, simply based on the mathematics it takes to get from here to there.

Specifically, The New York Times reported, the think tank contends cutting taxes by 20 percent without either increasing taxes for the poor or the middle class or watching the deficit soar cannot be done.

President Barack Obama, of course, has used the word "math" while shaking his head more often than any other presidential candidate in memory.

Obama also figured that push had to come to shove at some point and declared that Romney had orchestrated a tax cut, but called it a balanced budget instead.

To balance out the equation, however, it appears that voters are left with choosing between the lesser of two evils.

It is equally despairing to hear the president harp on the middle class and the more he does so the more it looks like he wants the middle class to save his job, rather than use his administration to save the middle class.

That has nothing to do with sincerity, but Obama has not had any more luck closing the gap between the poor and the wealthy than he has had closing the trade gap between the United States and China.

Several studies have shown that the income gap is growing. The Congressional Budget Office itself found that in 28 years, from 1979 to 2007, incomes rose 275 percent for the top 1 percent of U.S. households, while it rose under 40 percent for Americans in the middle of the pack.

The trend transcends election year politics. A separate study cited by The Miami Herald found that the top 1 percent took home 23.5 percent of all income in 2007, the largest slice of the pie for the ultra-wealthy since 1928.

At this point, it's a matter of whose broken promises do voters like best? In the real world, Obama back in the White House and a return to the manhandling and economy mishandling tactics of the GOP over the past four years is a formula for kissing the U.S. credit rating goodbye.

In effect, for Democrats this is a year of all or nothing. Take control of the House and stronger control of the Senate or don't bother showing up. It's as simple as that.

President Barack Obama, in that sense, has more to lose by winning than any incumbent president in memory. What's the point of another agonizing four years of gridlock? Shudder the thought.

That leaves voters with three choices if you include the Democrats, the grand old party and gridlock.

But it still leaves three gaps that need closing -- or make that four.

There's the trade gap between the United States and China, the gap between the rich and the poor and the gap between the left and the right in Washington.

Then there's the credibility gap. Romney has an unfortunate habit of pretending the facts don't matter, while Obama wants voters to believe he can get the job done.

When the dust clears on November 7 and it turns out that the government faces four more years of gridlock, that credibility gap will very soon apply to almost everyone in town.

In international markets, the Nikkei 225 index in Japan added 1.13 percent, while the Shanghai composite index in China fell 0.68 percent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong added 0.21 percent, while the Sensex in India gained 0.26 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia was flat, rising 0.1 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain gained 0.52 percent, while the DAX 30 in Germany reclaimed 0.67 percent. The CAC 40 in France rose 0.44 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 600 jumped 0.75 percent.

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