What Secretary Paulson Said — And Didn’t Say

By August 7, 2006General

We hate to be the skunks at the WaPo’s party — especially when they were throwing bouquets at new Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last week in an editorial entitled, “Mr. Paulson’s Debut.” But it’s important to be clear about what Secretary Paulson said and didn’t say. Editorializing on his inaugural speech at Columbia University last week,The WaPo said that the Secretary, “emphasized the right policy challenges, including the stagnation of wages and the unevenness of income distribution, issues that the administration has been shy about acknowledging.”

And so, pesky net surfers that we are, we went to check out his remarks. You can search there for terms like “stagnant” or “stagnation”, or “wages”. What you’ll find is nary a mention of the unevenness of income distribution or the stagnation of wages. What he did say was this:

“But we still have challenges, and amid this country’s strong economic expansion, many Americans simply aren’t feeling the benefits. Many aren’t seeing significant increases in their take-home pay. Their increases in wages are being eaten up by high energy prices and rising health-care costs, among others.” (Emphasis ours)

In this respect, he was dead-on right. Health care and energy costs continue to take a huge bite out of all workers’ pay. It sure feels like income isn’t rising when these soaring costs take a larger share of our earnings. On health care, virtually all NAM members voluntarily provide health care coverage to their employees, bear the lion’s share of the costs, so we know exactly how expensive it is. As for energy, the Congress is at last moving in the direction of driving down prices by driving up supply. To that we say, “It’s about time.”

Before the WaPo’s characterization of Secretary Paulson’s speech got too embedded in the consciousness of the Internet, we thought we should set the record straight. We agree with the WaPo’s general thrust, i.e., we think he got it right. Only difference was, we believe that before you applaud, you oughta know why you’re clapping.