Michele Murphy

Michele Murphy

In virtually every election cycle since 1992, Democratic strategist James Carville's declaration, “It's the economy, stupid," has been repeated by politicians from the left, right and center as the "hot button" issue that will drive voter turnout.

In some cycles, the pressing economic problem was unemployment while in others inflation, skyrocketing oil prices or taxes.

This year, the economy is humming. Unemployment is low. The stock market is high and the Gross Domestic Product indicator is up.

Republicans passed a tax cut late last year. According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, it will help Ohioans pocket, on average, $1,011 this year.

In addition, more than 400 U.S. companies passed along to some 4 million employees one-time bonuses, improved benefits or increased contributions to 401(k) plans when corporate tax rates were lowered in the same legislation. It should be noted 4 million represents a scant 3 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonetheless, many Ohioans are cheering. Walmart increased hourly pay to at least $11 and awarded bonuses of up to $1,000 totalling $18.1 million in Ohio. Fifth Third Bank, with branches locally, raised hourly pay to $15 and awarded $1,000 bonuses to more than 13,500 employees across Ohio. Lowe's 11,000 Ohio employees received bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; while AT&T granted $1,000 bonuses to 5,069 Ohio-based employees. This information was compiled by Americans for Tax Reform, founded by Grover Norquist. There were more Ohio companies that passed along benefits to employees and they can be viewed at www.atr.org/Ohio.

One could conclude that a strong economy combined with tax cuts would generate a great turnout for those running on the GOP ticket. It just might.

However, there are indications that it just might not be enough for the GOP to retain a majority in the U.S House, and perhaps the Senate.

While I won't get into any prognosticating, I wonder whether some have written off economic concerns too quickly, and here's why.

Marketwatch.com reported in June the cost of living is increasing at its fastest pace in six years. The report went on to say the rising cost of gasoline, medical care and shelter — rent and home prices — drove the increase.

Tariff wars will not help. According to Forbes Magazine, tariffs are coming at a terrible time for millions of Americans coping with stagnant wages while interest rates increase. This could play havoc on variable rate loans and credit card debt.

Tariffs on goods from Chinese imports alone will cost American consumers roughly $6 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by the National Retail Federation, as reported by The Motley Fool.

Last week Walmart warned the Trump administration that its latest batch of tariffs could make it more expensive for U.S. households to buy items ranging from car seats, cribs, backpacks, hats, pet products and bicycles to Christmas lights.

Has the expected tax cut or bonus evaporated?

Has your health care premium gone up? How about your cable bill? How much does it cost to fill your tank? My supplemental health care premium increased by 6 percent and I am fortunate to have good health and take no medications. Cable is up more than 14 percent with no fancy extras. Gas is up nearly 13 percent. I pulled receipts and double checked!

I'm not forking out $27,142 for tuition, room, board, books and miscellaneous expenses to educate a child this year at Ohio University, or a whopping $15,600 for a year at Lakewood’s St. Edward High School.

Working parents of preschool age children pay a range from “$10,468 for a center-based child-care program to $28,905 for a nanny,” according to Alissa Quart in her new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America.” Quart contends that amount can be 20-30 percent of a middle-class family's income.

At the macro level, things seem to be humming along. I just wonder whether here at the micro level – at local kitchen tables – things are as bright.

Stores are marking fall and Halloween items down in preparation for Christmas. Sure hope tariffs on bikes, pet items and toys don't mean fewer presents under the tree for kids. I suspect big kids may not like the price increases brought about by tariffs on smartwatches, bluetooth equipment, some TVs or sailboats either. And which Grinch decided a tariff on Christmas lights was a good idea?

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