And we need all the confidence we can get, because no matter how good the news is, some people will always find a way to apply a negative spin. Consider Sen. John Kerry?s ?Middle-Class Misery Index.?
The index, released last month, attempts to update a concept many of us remember from the 1970s. Back then, we simply added the unemployment rate to the rate of inflation. The higher the number, the worse things were. During the Carter administration, the Misery Index topped 20.
But, because of low inflation and a steadily improving jobs picture, today?s Misery Index is relatively low -- less than eight. So Sen. Kerry has cherry-picked several unrelated stats: median family income, college tuition, health costs, gasoline costs, bankruptcies, the home-ownership rate and private-sector job growth, and combined them into something he calls the ?Middle-Class Misery Index.?
It?s not surprising that five of Kerry?s hand-picked numbers are going down. It?s also not surprising that Kerry ignored traditional barometers such as GDP and overall employment. Since those statistics, aided by several years of lower taxes, are on the rise, they show the middle class in resurgence, not misery.
And even the stats he chooses to highlight are misused. For example, he looks at family income before taxes. That makes no sense, because it ignores the big tax cuts most middle class people have enjoyed in recent years -- tax breaks passed at the urging of the Bush administration.
Some in the middle class are still struggling, but there?s no ignoring the big picture: Today?s economy is solid and getting stronger. We?re generating jobs -- 1 million people joined the labor force last year -- and increasing wages.
Tax cuts are a big reason for our growth. Let?s lock in future growth by making those cuts permanent.