As Roby Brock reported Monday night, Gov. Beebe has taken exception to an ad from Americans for Prosperity that said, “We can make (Arkansas) a better place to live.” The Democratic Party of Arkansas followed Beebe’s lead today with a press release which disagreed, which seems like an odd point to disagree.
Don’t all of us want to do better regardless of which party we are in?
As best I can tell, the reason they are so upset over the ad is that since they have been the majority party in Arkansas for the last century or so, the idea that anything can be improved upon is a direct insult to them.
Their press release today trotted out the standard talking point which seeks to paint the picture of their time in office as glossy as they can. That’s understandable, but they go too far on a couple of points.
1. “…we are now ranked fifth in the nation for public K-12 education…” – This is a statistic often cited by Democrats as a mark of how much they have improved education in Arkansas, however; there is more to the story. The statistic is from a report from Education Week magazine which studied the education policies of each state, not education achievement. The cherry-picked data ignores other less flattering studies, such another one from Education Week that shows Arkansas is lagging in graduation rates. Steve Brawner does a great job explaining this in this column “School’s Ace the Wrong Tests.”
2. “…We announced over 28,000 new jobs, even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression…” This was a talking point used in 2010 as well as with the “28,000 announced” number. The key word here is “announced.” In short, this is a braggin’ number from the AEDC of any job that they feel they help retain, create, or might create. And they don’t subtract these numbers if the jobs disappear or never materialize. As you can see at this link, Arkansas employment has fallen by 33,500 jobs under Beebe’s administration from when he took office in January 2007. The DPA admits we are in “the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” but their announced jobs numbers gloss over the actual jobs data.
It is also interesting to note some recent support from Americans for Prosperity for a conservative-leaning Democrat. A mailer went out this week in the northeast Arkansas House district for Democratic Rep. James McLean of Batesville. McLean is opposed in November by former Republican Rep. Charles Fuqua in a district that is tilting red.
“James McLean stood with us,” reads the mailer. “James McLean stood AGAINST President Obama’s trillion-dollar Washington-based healthcare plan.”
Still, look for Democrats to condemn anything from these “out of state interest groups,” even while some of them quietly enjoy their support. Even the chief critic, Gov. Beebe, has received $6,000 in political contributions from Koch-owned businesses.