BIG NUMBERS

1. It’s Thursday, October 27, 2016. It’s 12 days until the election.

2. Highly recommended: New York Times photographer Bryan Denton’s harrowing account of what it’s like on the front lines of the Iraqi Army’s assault on Mosul. 

Denton was wounded by an ISIS suicide car bomb; the injuries, whose gruesomeness is mentioned in this story, fortunately were relatively minor.

But Denton’s description of the difficulty these Iraqis face in reclaiming their city is a reminder of how horrible this situation is. And it’s a good reminder why President Obama has been extremely reluctant to make a major commitment of American forces to this region.

Yes, America kind of made the mess. But it really can’t undo it by getting its military deeply involved again.

3. Just want to revisit my thoughts on Obamacare from the other day.

I compared this year’s large hikes to Valley Forge. The point I was trying to make was that Washington made adjustments to his revolution and the Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton should she win, will need to make adjustments to theirs.

Some Affordable Care Act proponents argue that the hikes averaging between 22% and 25% are just a catchup from the low rates offer when the healthcare exchanges were initially launched. And they say a majority of purchasers will get subsidies that will hide the increases from their bank accounts.

But even if the problem is merely political perception and not the churn in health care, the bill’s backers – and, trust me, I’m one of them – need to do a better job of managing expectations.

You can’t say, in the third year in, that the double-digit percentage rate increase is kinda what we expected – not for a program about which Americans remain very, very skeptical. It just makes it look bad for the law.

All that said, the facts are that Obamacare has provided coverage for 20 million Americans, that it has eliminated some of the gross inequities in the health care system that existed before its passage, and that the country is healthier for its existence.

Valley Forge was a rough patch. But the country is still standing. I want future generations to say that about Obamacare in the 23rd century.

4. If the economy – and not grievances about the direction of the nation – were a bigger issue in 2016, the two government reports coming out between now and Election Day would loom large.

Gross domestic product, the broadest reading of the nation’s economy, for the summer months will be announced by the Commerce Department tomorrow.

Economists are optimistic. According to a survey conducted by Reuters, they expect the annual growth rate to come in at 2.5%. That would be quite a bit better than the 1.4% rate reported this spring and the less than 1% growth seen in the winter.

Even if the number is 2.5%, Trump will raise a fuss. He seems to believe the United States, the world’s most developed economy, should grow at the 6% and 7% pace of still developing nations such as China and India.

But you wouldn’t think you’d have to tell a guy who allegedly graduated from Wharton that the U.S. really can’t grow that fast. The pace couldn’t last long, and a massive economy that grows too fast winds up having to slow down – or stop.

The idea that the Federal Reserve and administrations of both parties operate under is that 3% growth is ideal. If we hit 2.5%, after being so anemic earlier this year, that’s a good sign.

The other report that will be closely watched is the Labor Department’s on October employment.

That comes out a week from tomorrow, four days before the election.

Key to that report is the net number of jobs created, known as nonfarm payroll. Last month, that number was 156,000.

That’s not terrible – hell, terrible is when it’s going down! But it’s not as robust as economists would like to see.

What they’d like to see is about 200,000 jobs created. Anything more than that is great. Anything below is disappointing.

The number that people tend to focus on, the unemployment rate, tends to be a little wobbly – and not for the reasons Trump and the right wing imply, that it’s not accurate.

The rate, which was 5% in September, can be skewed by the number of people who are looking for work. If the economy shows signs of optimism, people who had put aside job searches might resume them – if that number overshadows the number of people actually getting jobs, the rate can go up.

But while Trump will squawk about these numbers no matter how good they are, GDP and jobs aren’t likely to have much impact on what happens on Nov. 8. Two reports won’t change – or even affirm – how people view the way the nation is headed.

If Trump somehow wins, though, they could be the high-water mark of an American economy sabotaged by its own people.

Standard

One thought on “BIG NUMBERS

  1. Pingback: 20 QUESTIONS FRIDAY: THE I-DON’T-KNOW-ABOUT-YOU-BUT-I’M-A-LITTLE-NERVOUS EDITION | SUBJECTISM

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