Yesterday, Gallup released the U.S. Economic Confidence Index (ECI) and the results showed Americans are still concerned about the bleak economy, rating it a -12. Gallup’s ECI is based on the combined results of two questions: The first asks respondents to “rate economic conditions in the U.S. today,” and the “second asks whether they think economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse.” The index can go as high as 100 if all Americans rated the economy as “excellent” or “getting better” and as low as -100 if Americans thought the economy as “poor” or “getting worse.”
So it was surprising to hear four of the five Democratic candidates on CNN’s presidential debate last night—being labeled as the ‘Giveaway Gang’—claim that climate change was the greatest, most immediate threat facing mankind. As first reported here in March, global warming ranked dead last among voter’s environmental concerns, and last in overall concerns, and that they didn’t see it as an immediate or actual threat. In fact, Americans are more concerned about issues that affect them now, rather than longer-term threats generated by computer climate models.
The big issue, as highlighted by this poll, is confidence in current economic conditions and the country’s perceived economic outlook. Having a score of -12 shows that not only do Americans not think the unfavorable prevailing economy is getting better, but that current conditions are resoundingly bleak. The score would have been lower if those polled “perceived” the country’s economic future was going to get worse. According to this poll, Americans are more optimistic that the economy will head in the right direction, and this belief is likely bolstered by low gas prices and the recovering stock market.
Also today, the Associate Press called out Bernie Sanders for once again misrepresenting the facts by overstating the “share of wealth being taken by the richest Americans,” which is at the “core of his campaign” in how to grow our economy. In the debate, Sanders said, “Almost all the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.” But the AP writes that Sanders is relying on outdated data. “In the first five years of the economic recovery, from 2009 through 2014, the richest 1 percent of Americans captured 58 percent of income growth.”
In fact, from 2009 through 2012, the “richest 1 percent did capture 91 percent of the growth in income.” And that only happened because of “impending tax increases on the wealthiest Americans that took effect in 2013.” Also, “the bottom 99 percent finally saw their incomes rise 3.3 percent, the biggest gain in 15 years.” The AP goes on to fact-check many of Sanders’ statements, and as other news outlets have previously noted, someone has to foot the bill for all the freebies, and that would be the taxpayer, regardless of their tax status.
So are four of the five candidates simply out of sync with the rest of America or just hamming it up for their base, the Democratic Party, in order to win the primary (where only registered Democrats can vote)? As Syria and the Middle East are increasingly torn apart by civil war, with Russia’s Putin openly challenging President Obama’s leadership by bombing our allies to prop up Syria’s dictator Assad, and as Gallup’s ECI remains stuck in its downward trend (it went from a high of 5 in Feb. 2015 and has steadily dropped to its current level of -12), many are wondering who the Democrats are actually representing.
The one candidate of the Giveaway Gang, Jim Webb, was called out by CNN’s debate moderator Anderson Cooper, who asked: “You’re pro-coal, you’re pro-offshore drilling, you’re pro-Keystone pipeline. The question is, are you out of step with the Democratic party?” Webb said he was a retro-Democrat (what the Democrats used to be like), and that the United States couldn’t solve climate change by regulating our country into the stone age without China and India following suit (which they won’t and can’t).
“If you look at China and India, they’re the greatest polluters in the world,” Webb said. “Fifteen out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are in one of those two countries.” And contrary to what some of the candidates said, Webb was correct when he said that China has not agreed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, but only promised that they would look at it and ‘try’ if it didn’t affect their growing nascent economy negatively. Even India has backpedaled out of any international agreement.
“The so-called agreements that we have had with China are illusory in terms of the immediate requirements of the Chinese government itself,” Webb continued. “So let’s solve this problem in an international way, and then we really will have a way to address climate change.”
Gallup’s ECI poll was conducted Oct. 5-11, 2015, via telephone interviews on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,038 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points.