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Things sure have gotten better in a year’s time

This time last year we heard how bad the economy was and how if we didn’t pass a $1.2 billion tax increase Alabama would be shutting down schools, prisons and nursing homes.

What a difference a year can make.

The economy is on track for the best growth rate in 20 years and Alabama’s revenues are up by a whopping 8 percent with nary a school, prison or nursing home being shut down.

Even the U.S. trade deficit, though projected to expand, narrowed as a result of record exports of U.S. products overseas.

Could all this good economic news be disheartening for some?

Yes.

Liberal politicians have staked their political fortunes on blaming a bad economy on the Bush tax cuts and they cannot afford to acknowledge growth in the economy.

This time last year liberals in Washington and Alabama were complaining about the Bush tax cuts and the harm that would be done to federal and state governments.

The Center for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., published a report projecting the devastating impact the tax cuts would have on state government revenues. Like most liberals, the Center for Policy Studies refused to believe that tax cuts, which allow people to keep more of “their” money, stimulate the economy which then results in higher revenues at both the federal and state level.

Moreover, all through last summer and into the spring of this year liberal politicians attempted to manipulate labor and employment statistics to convince Americans that millions of jobs had been lost under the Bush Administration.

Last year, as the economic expansion began, liberals tried to put a negative spin on it by calling it a “jobless economic recovery.”

Now, as employment numbers surge, spurred by hundreds of thousands of new jobs being created each month, liberals have tried to convince us that the majority of jobs being created are low-quality service jobs that they derisively refer to a “McJobs.”

As it turns out, the liberals have been misleading the public again.

The facts are that economic expansion has resulted in the creation of 1.4 million new jobs over the last nine months.

So how do we know these new jobs are not the so called dead-end “McJobs?”

Not only are employment figures up, real disposable income has gone up by 7.5 percent since January of 2001 and annual real income per capita is up 5.2 percent.

That doesn’t happen if people are losing good paying jobs and replacing them with low paying ones.

Obviously, not all states have experienced the same overwhelming economic growth.

States such as Alabama have lost thousands of low-paying manufacturing and textile jobs in the past decade.

But Alabama is now seeing growth in a wide variety of sectors including the ever expanding automotive industry.

Since January 2003 Alabama added 19,000 new jobs.

And despite the tax increase passed by the state legislature this year, the prospects for Alabama’s economic future are still good.

We can expect continued growth in high-paying jobs, which will fill some of the void left by the lost manufacturing and textile jobs.

In fact, nearly 80 percent of the new jobs created in the U.S. economy last month were industrial jobs that pay above average hourly rates.

Much to the dismay of liberals, the long term economic outlook is strong.

Over the next ten years, employment in “all sectors” is expected to surge by over 21 million.

According to projections from the U.S. Department of Labor, there will be zero growth in “McJobs” relative to the overall work force during the ten-year period.

Even the liberals’ fear mongering about jobs leaving America and going overseas has been exaggerated.

According to a report issued by the U.S. Labor Department on June 10th, only 4,633 jobs were lost to outsourcing offshore during the entire first quarter of 2004.

Although Alabama still has some catching up to do, clearly the Bush tax cuts have helped the economy.

If Alabama wants to see more economic growth and more and better jobs, then the politicians in Montgomery need to push pro-growth tax reform instead of legislation that robs Alabama businesses of capital, kills jobs and swallows families’ disposable income in great gulps.

Unfortunately, in Montgomery, the primary focus of the powerful special interests that control the politicians is not on expanding the economic opportunities for the people of Alabama, but on expanding government and their political power bases.

As long as this is true, Alabama will continue to lag behind the rest of the nation as the economic boom continues for everyone else.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.