When I was growing up, the stock market pretty much tracked the job market — chances are if the Dow was high, unemployment was low. Productivity gains translated into higher wages. Wall Street and Main Street prospered together. Since the Great Meltdown, we’ve seen the stock market come back, while unemployment and underemployment have remained high, and productivity gains go to profits, not wages. I believe this hurts Mitt’s chances for election.
Americans don’t doubt that Mitt is amazing at making money. We know he’d be good for corporate profits and the stock market. Where we have less confidence is that he’d be good for getting us or our brother or neighbor a job.
Back in 2004, in the first post-9/11 presidential election, Bush defeated Kerry by convincing us that Kerry wasn’t ruthless enough to deal with the terrorists. That’s what the Swift-Boating was all about, casting doubt on the toughness of someone who’d actually served in combat, unlike Bush himself.
In this election, Obama will defeat Mitt by convincing us that Mitt, based on his Bain record, is too ruthless to deal with the Main Street side of our economy, as opposed to the Wall Street side. Mitt identifies with the bottom line, not the unemployment line. If 2004 called for toughness abroad, 2012 calls for some tenderness at home, a trait we don’t associate with Mitt.
Strong corporate profits, a high Dow Jones no longer mean the jobs are “trickling down” to us. There’s definitely a trickle, but it’s just the one percent peeing on your leg.