What's a headline for, if not to put a whole story into one quick thought? Thankfully for our copy editors, this particular headline went five columns atop the Business section over the weekend. (If there's anything copy editors hate, it's one-column heads. "Read/This/Good" isn't much of a grabber.)
The headline just about sums up the Asa Hutchinson administration:
State jobless rate hits record low 3.5%
We ask you, why would Arkansans want to change that?
Wasn't that the whole campaign strategy in 1988 for George H.W. Bush? When things are going well, keep it going. Horses, midstream, and all that. Asa Hutchinson's people might want to buy up a bunch of Saturday's editions, and send the Business section out as mass mailers.
For the first time, we noticed a section on a candidate's website called Accomplishments. Never seen that before. But it's a category all by itself for the Asa! campaign. And featured are topics like "Education Accomplishments" and "Health Care Reform."
But this campaign wisely focuses most of its effort on reviewing the economic news in Arkansas: It touts the 2015 tax cut, the largest in Arkansas history, and the 2017 tax cut, the second largest in state history. The first tax cut focused on relief to middle-class Arkansans, the second one for residents with lower incomes. Tell us again how Republicans only cut taxes for the rich.
Combine all these tax cuts with the national one, and this state's economy is booming: For 29 consecutive months, Arkansas' unemployment rate has been below 4 percent. The experts will tell you that any unemployment rate below 5 percent is actually full employment--because such a low number can be explained by people moving, changing jobs or going to school. Long story short, anybody who wants a job in Arkansas can find one.
The Hutchinson campaign will also note that per capita income has increased nearly 5 percent since he became governor. The hourly wage has gone up, too. And there have been $7 billion in new money put into the state in capital investment.
Like any good conservative, this governor seems to believe in sensible and realistic approaches to problems, preferring experience to theory. Which might be why he has signed onto Arkansas Works (formerly the Private Option) to provide health care to those in need--provided young people in the program look for work. Which is enough to have him branded a fire-breather by our friends on the left, but in reality makes him pragmatic. Besides, wouldn't any Republican governor be branded a fire-breather by our friends on the left?
We especially like the way this governor does business when it's his business. Most pols, given their druthers, expand their kingdoms. This governor shrinks his. When he first got to the governor's mansion in 2015, he implemented a hiring freeze. (His campaign claims that alone has saved millions.) And more recently the Ledge passed Gov. Hutchinson's plan to consolidate certain state agencies.
And he still has plans. Including more government reduction, higher teacher pay and even more tax cuts.
In a perfect world--and perhaps not only in a perfect world--Arkansas' governor would have been more outspoken about the lack of success in Little Rock's public schools. But there is still time to do that. And the governor certainly doesn't want a failure in one of the state's largest school districts to be part of his legacy.
There's simply no reason not to give Asa Hutchinson another term in office. Too many things are going right.
A governor with half his success would coast to a second term. And deserve to.
Editorial on 10/23/2018
Print Headline: For Asa Hutchinson