When it comes to the American economy, there is little success to celebrate unless success is defined downward.
Under President Obama, the economic success that’s being celebrated essentially papers over the pain of millions of struggling Americans.
Obama devoted a significant portion of his uninspiring State of the Union address in January to his alleged desire to revive “middle class economics.” It’s seemingly nothing more than a continuation of his class warfare campaign rhetoric that pushes wealth redistribution in lieu of actual job creation and stability.
Proof of Obama’s lack of a real economic plan can be seen in his new $4 trillion dollar budget. It contains around $2 trillion dollars in tax increases, doubling down on wealth redistribution. Yet all the taxing and spending isn’t a substitute for real economic growth.
Reduced regulation and incentivizing the market to create jobs and wage increases can stimulate real economic growth. Ideology and rhetoric will do nothing.
Of course, job creation still isn’t where it should be. The official unemployment rate rose again — to 5.7 percent in January. The alternative data measure, which includes those looking for work, the underemployed and the discouraged and those not looking for work was 11.3 percent – nearly twice what the government considers and the media reports the official rate to be.
In late January, Jim Clifton, the chairman and CEO of the esteemed Gallup polling firm, penned a commentary calling the reported official December unemployment rate of 5.6 percent largely baloney because of how the government counts the jobless. Clifton called it “The Big Lie.”
For example, if people give up looking for work, they aren’t counted as unemployed. They are ignored. If someone works a single hour each week and earns more than $20, they also aren’t counted as unemployed. Furthermore, part-time workers who want or need full-time work are similarly defined as employed.
These official government unemployment numbers are a measure that benefits Barack Obama, allowing him to continue his divisive and failed policies because he can say unemployment is down from years ago. It seems a high price to give him bragging rights.
Things are not better. In another commentary, Gallup’s Clifton wrote that, for the first time in 35 years, more businesses are dying than being created. Since 2008, business creation has actually fallen below the business failure rate.
That’s not all. There are several other things highlighting an anemic economic recovery that Obama celebrates:
- Economic growth last quarter was only 2.6 percent, with GDP growth down dramatically from previous quarters. Averaged out, the economy only grew 2.4 percent in 2014. Some economists celebrate the best year of economic growth since 2010 — showing how hard it is to find good news. This is defining down success.
- The Center for Immigration Studies found that, since 2009, the Obama Administration quietly gifted around 5.5 million work permits for “non-immigrant foreigners who arrived as tourists, students, illegal immigrants or other types of migrants.” If the number of people already given work permits is added to those people included in Obama’s new lawless executive action of delayed deportation of illegal immigrants, more than 10 million foreign workers will be added to the economy by the end of this year. This will further suppress wages due to the increased labor pool.
- ObamaCare continues to hamper the economy. A recent Congressional Budget Office report projects it will cost the government $1.993 trillion while taking in only around $643 million in new taxes, penalties and fees over the next decade. Close to 30 million uninsured will remain uninsured.
- The Census Bureau reports that 20 percent of all children in America now rely on food stamps. Prior to the recession, that number was just one in eight.
Obama claimed in his State of the Union address that “[t]he shadow of crisis has passed” and we were going to “turn the page.” It may be a different page, but it’s the same old story.
Derryck Green, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, received a M.A. in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing his doctorate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University. Comments may be sent to Project21@natioanlcenter.org.