In speeches and media appearances, Republican governors are attacking President Biden for policies that they believe are destroying the US economy as a whole. But in detail – in their states, in other words – the economy is booming.
Somehow, in states as diverse as Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts, and Arizona, Republican governors suggest they have found a magic formula to foster booming growth and reduce unemployment at home.
Take, for example, these remarks from several governors’ annual State of the State speeches this year:
“Our national economy is struggling,” Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma said before continuing: “As unemployment has skyrocketed in parts of the country, ours has dropped to just 2.3 percent.”
“Job creation in Florida is far above the national average,” said Ron DeSantis of Florida. “And our workforce has grown six times faster than the nation’s.”
“Our unemployment rate is below 4% for the first time since March 2020 and we have recovered over half a million jobs,” said Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.
“Our economic recovery is one of the best in America, our unemployment rate is the lowest since before the pandemic, and a national poll called Maryland the best business state in America,” said Larry Hogan of Maryland. .
It’s not that easy to separate the performance of individual states from that of the nation, economists say, let alone attribute that performance to any particular move made by a governor. Nevada, for example, has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic due to its heavy reliance on tourism.
“Presidents have less to do with the economy than people think, and the same goes for governors,” said Michael Strain, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
Republican-run states have seen their employment levels recover faster as they emerged from the pandemic, noted Adam Kamins, senior director of economic research at Moody’s Analytics. But he added that deeper structural problems – demographic patterns, affordability of housing – have played a more important role in supporting growth in states like Idaho and Utah than any specific policy.
“We definitely see more employment growth in Republican-controlled states,” Kamins said. “But correlation is not causation”.
Among the fastest-recovering states, Kamins noted in an analysis, was North Carolina, whose governor is a Democrat.
Republicans see things differently. Seventeen of the 20 states with the lowest unemployment rates in January are run by Republicans, said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association.
“It’s no coincidence,” Hunt said. “They have adopted conservative political solutions that have allowed their states to recover more quickly from the pandemic than democratic-led states.”
Governors certainly made trade-offs during the pandemic between the health of their populations and economic growth, said David Cooper, an economist at the left-wing Economic Policy Institute. Cooper noted that seven of the 10 states with the highest number of deaths per capita from Covid-19, including Oklahoma, had Republican governors.
“Is it really a win?” Cooper asked.
Others point out that federal money infusions during the coronavirus pandemic, such as the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, have a lot more to do with bringing states back from economic disaster than anything individual governors did.
“It’s basically crazy to say, ‘Our policies are good. Theirs are bad. Our unemployment is really low and our inflation is really high relative to the rest of the country, ‘where unemployment is simply low and inflation is simply high,’ said Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers since 2013 to 2015.
Several economists we spoke to have argued that luck played an important role in how a particular state was affected by the pandemic, a complex equation influenced by demographics, population density, and mix of industries.
One economist compared the claims of politicians about the influence of the trajectory of the economy to “a rooster crowing at dawn”.
“Washington at its worst”
Republican governors were also happy to promote specific investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan, Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion economic bailout package approved last March, without noticing the original source of the money.
DeSantis, for example, said the plan was “Washington at its worst”. But he later talked about his proposal for a $ 1 billion tax exemption on gas, along with bonuses for teachers and first responders, all based on federal funds. On Wednesday, he unveiled nearly $ 300 million in education spending without noticing that the money came from Washington.
Florida’s state budget benefited by billions from the bailout alone: $ 8.8 billion in state and local tax recovery funds, $ 2.47 billion in child care stabilization and supplementary funds, 703. $ 8 million in primary and secondary education funding and $ 740.5 million in emergency rental assistance. Florida towns and cities have also received $ 7.11 billion to help plug the holes the pandemic has created in their budgets, along with $ 6.33 billion in education funding and another half billion. dollars in rental assistance.
The pattern is similar in other red states:
In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds bragged about her state’s investments in broadband, housing and water quality, all of which came from the bailout.
Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, used the money from the bailout package to pay for water projects, housing accessibility, and day care programs.
And Hogan, the governor of Maryland, talked about federal crime programs funded through the bailout, even though he said he would vote against it.
“It’s absurd on several levels,” said Dean Baker, a leftist economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “To run a policy and then reap the benefits is a pretty high level of hypocrisy.”
Republicans see no contradiction between taking federal funds while also criticizing the legislation. Some said they had no choice but to accept the money, which would otherwise have been sent back to the Treasury Department. They also complained that the Democrats’ decision to allocate funds to the bailout based on a state’s unemployed population, rather than its total population, unfairly punishes red states.
The Fed gets a vote
The Democrats have pushed Biden to take more credit for the economic recovery, hoping he will help them at the polls in November.
They expressed their wish during the President’s recent State of the Union address when he said: “Our economy created over 6.5 million new jobs last year alone, more jobs created in a single country. year than ever in American history “, calling it” the strongest growth in nearly 40 years “.
Indeed, the US economy grew rapidly in the last three months of 2021 – nearly 7% – and the national unemployment rate fell to 3.8%.
But it may be about to change.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve predicted a sharp slowdown in the US economy this year, as it signaled plans to raise interest rates to combat rising inflation, a reminder that policymakers may want to be wary of taking. the merit of the economic conditions that could change rapidly.
“This is a much bigger problem than a governor or even the president can handle, and the ways they can influence aren’t that popular,” said Stevenson, the former member of the Council of Economic Advisers.
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Trump changes tone
Just a few weeks ago Donald Trump praised Vladimir Putin as an expert genius. But the former president now sees things a little differently.
In an interview published Tuesday evening in The Washington Examiner, Trump said he expected Putin to do a “good deal” rather than invade Ukraine. He expressed disappointment at Putin’s decision, saying that the Russian president had changed.
Trump’s flip over Putin comes as the country rallies around Ukraine. In Washington, congressmen held back tears as Zelensky of Ukraine begged them for further assistance and spent the afternoon discussing steps to take.
And public opinion continues to show widespread support for sanctions against Russia by Democrats, Republicans and independents. Monmouth University released a poll on Wednesday that found that nearly 90 percent of Americans believed the Russian invasion of Ukraine was unwarranted.
Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.
– Blake and Leah
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