Today on ABC’s This Week roundtable, conservative columnist George Will claimed it is possible that the economy may only be suffering from a “financial problem” while the rest of the economy is performing “rather well”:
WILL: All will be forgiven if things turn out well. And it’s just possible, Donna, that the economy is not going down the drain. 94, 95 percent of all mortgages in this country are being paid off on time. Ninety-four percent of those who want to work are working. This may be much more of a financial problem, that is, one sector, while the rest of the economy is doing rather well.
Will’s rosy assessment of the economy is deeply misguided. It’s clear that the financial industry is not the only sector of the economy in crisis mode. Some examples:
Construction Industry: The construction sector is “beset by one of the biggest drops in employment in the current economic downturn” and had an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent in October.
Labor Market: The economy lost nearly 1.2 million jobs in the first 10 months of 2008, including 240,000 jobs in October. Unemployment is now at roughly 6.5 percent.
Housing Industry: New home sales in September 2008 were 33.1. percent lower than the same time last year. “The median price for existing homes fell by 9.0% and prices for new homes by 9.1% during the same period.” One in 11 mortgages is delinquent or in foreclosure.
Auto Industry: The auto industry just experienced another month of “record low sales.” Recently, Detroit automakers plead with Congress for a financial rescue package in order to avoid bankruptcy.
Will’s portrayals of the state of the economy have been abysmal. In June, he claimed that average Americans “are better off today than they were in 2000-2001.” In July, Will stuck up for former McCain adviser Phil Gramm’s “nation of whiners” comment, stating that Americans “are the crybabies of the western world. In fact, we have an extraordinarily low pain threshold.”