If you have any doubt that the Kerry index is a political gimmick, note how Camp Kerry gave each of the seven categories equal weight. And it left out private colleges, where tuition didn't balloon. Worse, tuition gets the same weight as family income, even though it is only an issue for families with children of a certain age.
Kerry's inclusion of gasoline prices is choice, considering his pledge to renegotiate the Kyoto global warming treaty, which calls for U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions to fall 7 percent below 1990 levels. Since emissions are 11.5 percent higher than in 1990 now, a compromise could be a match to 1990 levels. How Kerry would meet such a goal, I don't know, but I can guarantee that the changes would have to be drastic and they can't be done with cheap gas at the pump.
Martin Anderson, a former Reagan economic adviser now with the Hoover Institution, is shocked that Kerry's team produced this amateur-hour index.
"This is not something professional politicians do," Anderson said. "It's too easy to say what's wrong with it."
Add to the pseudo-economics Kerry's classic Chicken Little hyperbole. Everything Bush does, in Kerry-speak, is the "worst" whatever in American history. So Kerry said Monday, "This president has presided over the worst jobs economy in the history of our nation." Despite his Yale degree and Swiss boarding school, Kerry apparently never learned about the Great Depression. Unemployment hit 25 percent.
Now that's misery.
Segue to recent history. As Bush was about to take office, Team Clinton was outraged when George W. Bush talked of a "possible slowdown" in the economy. On CNBC, Gene Sperling -- then a Clinton aide, now proud author of Kerry's misery index -- accused the Bushies of "talking up a recession" to the detriment of the nation's well-being. "You have to understand that what you say does actually have an impact on confidence," said Sperling.
Kerry too said in March 2001, "I think the administration has been guilty of talking down the economy." I always figured -- and still do -- that an economy is too strong an animal to falter just because of politicians' sticks and stones. But Sperling apparently believes otherwise, and he's ready to rewrite the misery standards, despite the likely "impact on confidence."
Some politicians will say anything to get elected.
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