Hugh Hewitt calls our attention to this story about President Bush’s swing through Wisconsin yesterday. The AP writer follows the mainstream media convention of using the verb “tout” in the lead paragraph of any story in which Bush discusses good news. But good news is good news, and in Wisconsin, a key battleground state, the unemployment rate is below the national average at 5.2 percent, down from 5.8 percent a year ago. Hugh also notes that a poll now has Bush ahead of Kerry in Pennsylvania. My sense, for what it’s worth, is that the (Bush?) recovery began on the two coasts and now is slowly becoming noticeable in the industrial midwest.
And speaking of the politics of employment in the industrial midwest, Trent Wisecup, a consultant with a strong background in Michigan politics, notes in the Weekly Standard that “Great Lakes industrial workers would be well advised to carefully check Kerry’s Senate record. Few in Congress have worked as aggressively to hobble the most important industrial sector of the Great Lakes economy: the American auto industry.”
Specifically, “in 2002, Kerry introduced legislation that would have raised mandatory fuel economy standards (CAFE) for SUVs, pickups and minivans (considered light trucks by regulators) from 20.7 mpg to 35 mpg–a 69 percent increase. Light trucks, which now account for more than 50 percent of vehicle sales in the United States, are far and away the most profitable products offered by Detroit’s Big Three automakers and the core of their business. American auto companies have been very successful in making the light trucks and SUVs American consumers want to buy and are investing in new technology to improve fuel economy in the years ahead. But Kerry’s CAFE demands would be impossible for the automakers to meet without years of costly re-designs and significant lost sales. Prices would rise by thousands of dollars forcing middle class buyers into the sedan market dominated by foreign automakers.” Indeed, says Wisecup, “If Kerry’s CAFE increase had been enacted, the Big Three would have been severely weakened and their ability to honor UAW wage, pension, and health benefit obligations would have been threatened.”
I doubt that Kerry will be touting his CAFE-increase legislation. But he should be called on to explain how it can be reconciled with his claim to be the savior of good jobs.
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