Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ernie’s Paradox: He Is Trapped

From Pol Watchers:

Gov. Ernie Fletcher's re-election campaign began airing its second TV commercial today. The 30-second spot, set to an upbeat version of "This Little Light of Mine," focuses on the state's economy during Fletcher's administration. The spot began running on network stations in Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green this morning, said campaign manager Marty Ryall. It will run on cable outlets in other media markets, he said.

Here's an analysis of the ad that will run in Wednesday's Herald-Leader: Fletcher’s main strategy in the primary election is to tout his accomplishments, noting that he was able to remain focused on Kentucky’s future during the grand-jury investigation of his administration’s hiring practices. Establishing that Kentucky has a vibrant economy is fundamental to the campaign’s success.

However, the assertion that Kentucky’s economy is "booming" isn’t supported well by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Job growth has lagged the national average. So has growth in the average worker’s income. And the state’s unemployment rate went from 37th worst to 46th. The number of employed citizens has grown, but at a rate slower than the national average. How much slower depends on which data you believe.

One set of numbers says the number of employed workers grew by 3.4 percent under Fletcher, compared to a national average of 5.5 percent. Another data set says employment has grown by 5 percent in Kentucky, compared to 5.4 percent nationally. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate has remained relatively steady at a time when the national unemployment rate dropped significantly.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate fell from 5.9 percent when Fletcher took office in December 2003 to 5.7 percent in February. Nationally, the rate dropped from 5.7 percent to 4.5 percent in the same time period. "Ernie Fletcher claims an economy that Kentuckians just don’t see," said Michael Clingaman, campaign manager for Anne Northup, one of two candidates challenging Fletcher in the GOP primary.

Lending credibility to Clingaman’s point is this: only five states had weaker personal income growth from 2005 to 2006. Still, whether voters believe the economy is booming or busting, they would be wise to put the issue out of their minds while in the voting booth, said University of Kentucky economist Kenneth Troske. "The president of the United States has a fairly limited impact on the short-term fluctuations of the U.S. economy," he said. "A governor would have even less of an impact."

Governor Fletcher is pathetic. He touts his accomplishments? The Lexington Herald-Leader proved them non-existent. Kentucky is struggling with unemployment and lower personal wages. Ford is floundering. Our children are endangered. Our college students are exiting. Fletcher’s light has been doused.

Obviously, Fletcher must campaign. You cannot win with “I have failed, I am flawed, I cannot produce recovery.” With that stated, this deception illuminates an irony. Fletcher cannot win. He cannot win with lies. He cannot win with his record. Both can be disproved.

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