Are You Better Off Under President Obama?

Right From the Start

Right From the Start

A little over a year ago I wrote a column in which I declared, facetiously, that I had decided to become a liberal Democrat in the mold of President Barack Obama:

“I have decided to become a Barack Obama Democrat. For years Mr. Obama and his branch of liberalism have scolded me and other conservatives as supporting the rich at the expense of the poor. Despite my protestations and the fact that I give more money to charity in a month than does Vice President Joe Biden in a year I cannot shake the antipathy of the left. Despite my unshakeable belief that the road out of poverty is through job creation rather than welfare, I cannot shake the labels of greed and profiteering cast by the likes of Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Maxine Waters (D-CA). And despite my routine criticism of the public employee unions for greed and avarice at the expense of the taxpayers, I cannot escape the label of being “against working people.”I could live with all of that, but a recent squib in the Wall Street Journal finally showed me the error of my ways. Michael Derby reports:

‘Americans have recovered only 45% of the wealth they lost during the recession, adjusted for inflation, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis estimated. . .‘. . . The bank said data that shows a near complete recovery in total aggregate wealth is misleading. The analysts argue aggregate household net-worth data aren’t adjusted for inflation, population growth or the nature of wealth. They note a lot of the recovery in net worth has been tied to the stock market, thus is concentrated in holdings of wealthy families.’

“Bingo!! There it is. While the recession may have begun under President George W. Bush, the “recovery” is all Mr. Obama’s. All of the major stock market indices have recovered and/or surpassed their pre-recession highs. Wall Street moneychangers and investors like me have increased our net-worths beyond pre-recession levels even when adjusted for inflation. Thank you very much Mr. Obama – the overwhelming campaign contributions given to you have paid off handsomely. (Well, the money changers’ campaign contributions, not mine – there are some things not even a pig will do.)”

I’ve sort of let that weak attempt at humor lie fallow since then. But this past week Mr. Obama re-ignited my fervor to become an Obama liberal. In a speech given before a Labor Day rally in Milwaukee, WI, Mr. Obama stated:

“. . . by almost every measure, folks are better off than when [I] took office.” I reached for a summary of my investment portfolio and by gosh Mr. Obama is right. I am better off. I am debt free and my net worth has increased substantially. I gave my wife a “fist-bump” and we set off in our brand new seven passenger SUV (Volts and Prius are what the hoi polloi drive, not us Obama liberals) for a celebratory dinner at one of Portland’s white linen restaurants perched high above the city. (Well it was our anniversary too.) I was feeling so bullish about all that Mr. Obama had done for us that I decided to follow Michelle Obama’s preferred dining guide and ordered the lobster. (Again, I didn’t order the nutritionally acceptable school meal because that’s what you eat and it tastes the same going in as it does coming out.) But the restaurant only had Australian lobster, not the preferred Maine lobster, and I, like Ms. Obama, wanted to support American business. I ordered the beef instead – yes, it was organically grown in Northern California where it had its own room and was named Curtis. My wife followed Oregon tradition and had salmon despite continuing calls by Oregon’s liberal establishment to “save the salmon.” It was a great evening and we lifted our glasses in a final toast for becoming Obama liberals.

Our revelry was short lived. Those damn conservatives and Republicans (they aren’t always the same) started intruding on Mr. Obama’s self-congratulatory remarks with – of all things – facts. (I just hate it when they do that.)

Mr. Obama reported that more Americans are working than when he took office. While that is true, there are also more Americans that are unemployed than when he took office. The only accurate guide to America’s employment picture is the labor force participation rate because it compares the number of people working and seeking jobs to the total available workforce. When Mr. Obama entered the presidency that number stood at 66.2 percent. The latest figures available from August of 2014, show that percentage continuing its decline to 62.8 percent – the lowest it has been in over three decades. Those pesky facts demonstrate that while there are more people working, a smaller percentage are working and that job creation has not kept pace with working age population growth.

This unfortunate fact was reinforced by an article on Bloomberg by Victoria Stilwell on May 2, 2014, which noted in part:

“The number of people coming into the workforce – by either landing a job or starting a search for work — plunged to 5.84 million in April, the fewest since November 2008, according to figures from the Labor Department. The 14 percent decrease from the prior month’s 6.79 million was the biggest since 1995.“Those leaving the labor force, which include retirees, people who choose to take care of family members and those pessimistic about finding employment, totaled 6.66 million, little changed from the 6.42 million averaged over the prior 12 months.”

But let’s not be bothered with that because we Obama liberals are much better off.

But then someone started talking about wage income and annual income declines. Oh yes, it was Vice-president Joe Biden speaking at another Labor Day gathering in Detroit (apparently he didn’t get the memo):

“One of the reasons we’re not growing is that ordinary people have no money in their pockets from poor wages.”Well that just cannot be – we are better off than when Mr. Obama took office. So I checked with FactCheck.Org – a product of the liberal Annenberg Foundation generally favorable to Mr. Obama. When reviewing Mr. Obama’s “numbers” on wages and weekly earnings, it noted in its most recent update:

“Even for those who have jobs, wages have risen so slowly they have barely kept up with historically low rates of inflation. Average weekly earnings of workers on payrolls, measured in inflation-adjusted dollars, have edged up a scant 0.3 percent between Obama’s first month in office and May 2014, the most recent on record. And there’s no clear upward trend. A year ago we reported a 0.1 percent increase in the real earnings figure in our July 2013 update, and six months ago the increase we reported in our January 2014 update was exactly the same as now — 0.3 percent.“Relatively fewer people now own their homes. Under Obama, the home ownership rate has continued to slide, declining by 2.5 percentage points since he took office. It stood at 65 percent in the January-March quarter, according to U.S. Census figures. (The decline actually began in 2004, when the rate peaked at 69.4 percent as the housing bubble was inflating.)”

A lower percentage of the American population can find jobs and those who do are earning about the same as when Mr. Obama took office. Well maybe they’re not better off, but they’re no worse off. That is unless you are one of that growing number of people who cannot find jobs but we Obama liberals already know you are going to vote for us so what the hell.

I just cannot take anymore of this conservative negativism – these facts – these details – that get in the way of Mr. Obama’s narrative. Who are you going to believe, Mr.Obama or your lying eyes?