Thomas Sowell

 Our current unemployment rate -- 5.4 percent -- is one of the lowest in the world and one of the lowest in our own history. Why then the hysteria about jobs? Because this is an election year and Senator Kerry is desperate for some issue that will rescue his faltering campaign.

 According to the Kerry campaign, President Bush has "lost" over a million jobs since taking office. This of course assumes that jobs are Presidents' to win or lose.

 Both in political rhetoric and media hype, Presidents are credited or blamed for all sorts of economic developments that they have had little or nothing to do with. Back in the 1980s, it was "the Reagan deficit" and in the 1990s it was "the Clinton surplus."

 In both these administrations, as in all other administrations in the history of the United States, all spending bills originated in the House of Representatives. Both Reagan and Clinton faced a House of Representatives controlled by the opposite party.

 Neither President could create a deficit or a surplus.

 Even further back, President Herbert Hoover was blamed for the Great Depression of the 1930s and President Franklin D. Roosevelt was credited with getting us out of the Depression. Virtually no recognized economist believes that today.

 Some of Hoover's policies may have made matters worse and FDR carried those policies even further, making things much worse. But there is little that is positive that any President can do, except recognize how little he can do -- and therefore not get in the way of the market's natural tendency to rebound.

 President George W. Bush came into office inheriting an economic downturn that began at the end of the Clinton administration. Then the September 11th attacks and the reactions to them disrupted the economy.

 Have we forgotten about the drastic reduction in travel after 9/11, which plunged the airline industry into huge losses and dealt a blow to hotels and vacation resorts across the country? Jobs decline when the economy declines.

 President Bush's tax cuts have been blamed for our economic woes by those who believe in high taxes. But the economy's decline began before taxes were cut and we now have a strong recovery without the tax rates being raised.

 Few things have been more grossly distorted than tax cuts. Liberals in politics and the media seem to think that what matters is what happens to the money. In reality, what matters is how the cut in tax rates affects people's behavior.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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