The recovery from the Great Recession appears to be getting stronger on the eve of Christmas. Alas, politics has dampened the enthusiasm of some Scrooges, President Obama's critics, who can't take "yes" for an answer.
As one liberal commentator noted, if this were the second year of a Mitt Romney presidency instead of the sixth year under President Obama, there would be parades in the streets and praise for the president from some of Obama's perennial critics.
But the facts are the facts. And they're mostly good.
In November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated, there were 321,000 jobs created, an astounding number. Unemployment is down. The gross domestic product grew at 5 percent, on an annual pace, in the third quarter of this year, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003. Consumer and business spending are up.
And as Americans take off on their holiday travels, they'll see lower gas prices.
And by the way: When the president was formulating the Affordable Care Act, Republicans predicted catastrophic consequences for the economy, with a federal deficit certain to explode. The deficit is down.
The Dow hits 18,000
Now millions of Americans have health insurance through federal exchanges. Should the coverage continue to increase, medical costs are likely to go down because fewer people will depend on free care through emergency rooms, which drives up the costs to the insured.
Christmas Eve finds the nation's economy in a growing and optimistic mode. This week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 18,000 for the first time.
Those presidential critics, some of whom want to run for president based on Obama's "failures," are scrambling for some way to cast the recovery in a bad light.
When the recession hit, the product of a reckless Wall Street and a combination of tax cuts and deregulation and, yes, bad mortgage loans, Washington moved toward bailouts and stimulus. Some conservatives argued, in an echo of the opponents to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, that the economy would recuperate on its own. Don't interfere with the free markets, they said. That would be socialism.
But President Obama moved ahead. The auto industry was saved, taxpayers got their money back and hundreds of thousands of jobs were preserved.
More to do
To be sure, the "recovery" hasn't been that for millions of Americans, who saw their jobs go away during the long, painful downturn. Many have begun to find jobs, but the majority of those jobs pay less, and benefits have diminished compared with what they had before the recession began. And those on the bottom rungs of the ladder are still there, hampered by a lack of education and skills.
There remain, however, some things that government can do to help. With this recovery, it can invest in putting people back to work through infrastructure projects such as bridge building and road improvements and other public works projects. It can bolster as well its investment, along with the private sector, in training and education. Let this rising economic tide lift all boats, not just the yachts of the wealthy.
Helping the unemployed and the underemployed find good jobs, after all, isn't some government "giveaway," any more than it was in Roosevelt's time. Work is hope. Hope is a determination to improve one's self and the future of one's family, which has tremendous long-term benefits for the nation's economy.
A time like this, a time of improving fortunes, is the best for making these investments and thus ensuring dividends for America in the future.