By Sabina Mollot
On the heels of Republican criticisms of the economy and President Obama’s handling of it, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and a few other elected officials responded with a press conference to argue that the economy has actually done better under Democratic presidents since World War II.
Maloney noted that since the Great Recession, unemployment has been halved from its worst point at 10 percent. Gross domestic product has also grown 1.6 times faster under Democrats on average, she said, with more job growth.
Maloney is a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton and has served as a campaign trail surrogate.
However, she insisted the announcement, made at Columbus Circle on July 22 wasn’t in response to anything that was said by Donald Trump, who’d just told America during the Republican National Convention that he was the country’s voice.
“It’s time to put to rest the myth that Republicans have a better record on the economy,” said Maloney, who’s also the ranking member of the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee. “The numbers don’t support that.”
She then ticked off some stats, including that in the past six and a half years, 14.8 million private jobs have been added. This, she said, is in stark contrast with the 4.5 million private jobs lost just during the last year of President George W. Bush’s time in office. Under President Clinton, 22 million jobs were added. Real gross domestic product fell during the recession, but has since increased by nearly 15 percent since Obama took office. In New York City, 640,000 jobs have been added since the recession and GDP is the NYC metropolitan area has increased by nearly 12 percent.
“I think it’s important to build on the work President Obama’s put into place,” Maloney said. “The unemployment rate, the deficit reduction, the stock market are all doing better.”
Data comparing the economy between Republican and Democrat administrations was presented in a Congress Joint Economic Committee brief that was based on research by two Princeton economists.
In terms of how the unemployment rate is counted, Maloney said this refers to people who are actively looking for work, meaning that baby boomers or others who’ve been out of work for a long time and forced into retirement wouldn’t count.
When asked how Congress was contributing to the growth of the economy, Maloney said she recently secured $10 billion for New York infrastructure/transit projects. Those include the Second Avenue Subway, the Kosciuszko Bridge, East Side Connector and the looming L train construction. $300 million of the money is also going towards building tracks in Queens for a high speed rail to Boston.
“These projects are critically important, and all the jobs (they create) are good paying jobs, roughly 100,000 jobs,” said Maloney.
She also brought up the stimulus package, which, she pointed out, her Republican colleagues were against.
Naturally, she added, it would be Clinton and not Trump who’d be a better choice for making America’s economy great again. “Absolutely,” said Maloney for “her record to run on” and Clinton’s support of the minimum wage increase. She then spoke about former President Clinton, saying, “The first Clinton gave us the best economy we’ve had in my lifetime. The gap between the haves and the have-nots narrowed.”
Alongside Maloney at the announcement were State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Dan Quart and Council Member Ben Kallos.
The three other elected officials also chimed in to say that the economic recovery has been mirrored city and state-wide. Kallos noted the city budget has continued to grow while Hoylman said his district has done well, noting the success of local tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google.
That said, he acknowledged, lower and middle-income people “are still struggling. We have to make sure they share in the benefits of the economy.” He also spoke of the importance of making sure the MTA was fully-funded and schools better funded.
Quart mentioned that he thought the rise of the minimum wage would make a significant impact locally.
“It will mean the people who are working poor will become part of the middle class, albeit the lower end of middle class, but it will make a real difference,” he said.