Obama talks about the size of workers’ pay checks while at Northwestern University recently. (AP photo)
Obama is engaging in a bit of sleight of hand.
“This progress has been hard, but it has been steady, and it has been real,” the president said recently. “It is a direct result of the American people’s drive and their determination and their resilience but it is also the result of sound decisions made by my administration. So it is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than it was when I took office.”
Yes, unemployment ticked down to 5.9 percent, though the labor force also shrank as people gave up looking for work or retired.
But what really matters is buying power, and that is stagnant and well below what it was when Obama took office, according to the latest Census figures.
The median inflation-adjusted income in 2013 was $51,939, down $2,120 from when Obama took office.
Obama likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, so compare.
When Reagan took office in 1981 that median inflation-adjusted income level was $46,877. When he left office eight years later it was up $4,637.
Obama said Monday that everything is just fine, he’s fixed all that’s wrong. Things will only get better if those evil, naysaying, dastardly Republicans will just roll over and play dead.
“So if you add it all up, over the last three and a half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate has come down. Our housing market is healing. Our financial system is safer.”
Obama speaks Monday about economy. (Reuters photo)
The only reason unemployment is down is because more people have given up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force.
According to an article in Fortune, the nation still needs 8.3 million jobs to fully recover from the recession.
The poverty rate has climbed to 15 percent under Obama.
But Obama, who has been president for nearly five years and had Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress for the first two years, laments:
“We need to grow faster. We need more good-paying jobs. We need more broad-based prosperity. We need more ladders of opportunity for people who are currently poor but want to get into the middle class. Because even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all. In fact, that understates the problem. Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.”
And whose fault is this?
He got his financial bailouts, auto bailouts, stimulus, quantitative easing, longer jobless benefits, more taxes on the wealthy and ObamaCare.
When does he get a piece of the blame?
“Our deficits are going down faster than any time since before I was born,” he said. “By the end of this year, we will have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office.”
After doubling it. The total debt is approaching $17 trillion.
The next day the CBO announced that by 2038, the total debt will equal 100 percent of GDP. In 10 years, annual deficit would grow to almost 3½ percent of GDP under current law, while federal debt would equal 71 percent of GDP.
In one sentence Obama accused the Republican Party of creating “economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants.”
A few sentences later, he said, “The only way to make further long-term progress on deficit reduction that doesn’t slow growth is with a balanced plan that includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. That’s the only way to do it.”
Isn’t he demanding 100 percent of what he wants? Kennedy and Reagan found another way.
His grand plan, which had few if any specifics, is more of the same as he’s given us the past five years. Where has that gotten us?
I kept getting emails from Obama’s minions saying things like: “Don’t miss this speech.”
So I didn’t.
What I saw was Obama at Knox College in Illinois firing a 5,000-word scatter gun for more than an hour at the economy without once hitting the target. He spoke in vague generalities about a ” long-term American strategy, based on steady, persistent effort, to reverse the forces that have conspired against the middle class for decades.”
When he did offer specifics, which were few, each of them would do more harm than good — kill jobs instead of create them.
He talked about raising the minimum wage — a sure job killer for the young and unskilled.
He talked about doubling the number of solar and wind energy projects — proven job killers.
But most of all he talked about inequality, noting the average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009, when he took office, and said the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. He did not say that the average American household earns $2,718, or 5 percent, less than it did when the recession ended in June 2009, four months after he took office.
Yet Obama pontificated, “This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong; it’s bad economics. When middle-class families have less to spend, businesses have fewer customers. When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy. When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther apart, it undermines the very essence of this country,” while doing absolutely nothing so far to change anything, except to make things worse.
As a Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out today, Obama doesn’t understand that before government can redistribute wealth, the private economy has to create it. And he said nothing whatsoever about how to grow the economy, which grew only 0.4 percent in the last quarter of 2012 and a still anemic 1.8 percent in the first quarter of this year and is expected for grow even slower in the second quarter.
Obama said he wants “an economy that grows from the middle out, not the top down.”
His speech was full of such rehashed bromides with a smattering of anti-job ideas.
“I care about one thing and one thing only,” Obama said, “and that’s how to use every minute of the 1,276 days remaining in my term to make this country work for working Americans again.”