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?

  • guest

    Conceivably speaking, only the naïve would continue supporting BHO’s ‘as-certainly-failed’ US Presidency – and, too, marshaling forces attending some kind of New World Order – like demigods seeking to put US in an egregious-religious Islamic cr-ISIS – or a soft-sell SOS patronization from quote: “at what point does it matter” ~ Madam Hillary Clinton from Behghazi, etc., etc, – while waving her wand of ploys from her ambiguous pulpit. ~ Selah.

    • guest

      And seeing HRC in Iowa, to wit bares an armpit airing from a disingenuous pulpit.
      So, at what point does that make?
      Know scat gridlock: this forEVAh PERsON should take her lying towel to Argentina and cry her soul, sic, [ambition] out to minions there!
      Reallyh, , render her there, NOT to shillary-ed minions witnessing aghast her faux pox henhouse shenanigans here.
      Lo, from Whitewater to Benghazi – and all dem’ infernal tooth aches in between,
      No amount of Novocain can ease the pain of an HRC root cabal as seen.
      Folks, if a woman POTUS sparks your parade,
      ‘Commission’ Condoleeza Rice, not some Hillary made.
      And that’s the sway is or should be.

  • Jack Lord God

    I think at this point the evidence is incontrovertible. Keynesian economics is pretty much dead. We tried it once under Roosevelt and the depression went on thirteen more years with no end in sight until WW2. We tried it again under Obama, a trillion dollar stimulus, cash for clunkers, subsidized health insurance and massive expansion of welfare rolls. Again the result is failure.

    The conclusion is as simple as it is unavoidable. You cannot lambast business, hang every regulation that pops into your head on them and then expect that combining that with disincentive to work is going to result in an economic recovery.

    Instead what you get is a recovery where virtually all of the benefit has gone to the wealthiest Americans, The middleclass getting hammered or treading water, and the lower class bearing the brunt of the devastation. If you don’t believe me, believe the government.

    Yet again we see – if you are rich being a liberal is in your self interest. Liberalism relies for it’s very existence on income disparity, Why do you think they seem to have an uncanny knack for expanding it?

    • wfecht

      Jack, Keynesian economics has been in full force since 1913 when the Federal Reserve was concieved. It has been continuous, never any breaks for anything different; although there was a brief confrontation with Fiedmon economics. For the real truth in economics try austrian economics. a good place to start is here. and any books or articles written by Ludwig von Mises or Murray Rothbard. only then will you understand how skewed the current economics are.

      • Jack Lord God

        Obviously you missed the point completely. I never said Keynesian economics had not been employed. In fact I stated quite clearly that it had and that very fact was it’s indictment.

        Mises is ok, Rothbard looks good on a surface read but he is something of a nut if you actually consider his propositions. Read em both way back in high school but I guess it is throw back Thursday though.

  • bill

    why arent the republicans running on this disastorous economy? why, this is a debt filled mess, we are in a depression, this is jsut what a modern one looks like.

  • wfecht

    Thank you Larry a really enjoyable article. I like the humor.

  • Bob Clark

    I see the Federal Reserve and Obama as two disparate forces. The Federal Reserve has driven an economic recovery through sustained no-interest rate money supply, which has bought time for borrowers to manage their debt load.

    I think the drop in the labor force participation rate is to some degree the baby boomer retirement wave, but a substantial part of it is Obama raising the effective marginal tax rate on working. The effective marginal tax rate (including federal benefit loss for an extra hour of paid work) is calculated by a University of Chicago economics professor as now significantly over 50% for the average U.S worker. Previously it was not much more than 40%.

    Obama has held us back to about a 2% rate of economic growth since his taking office; but we seem to finally be stabilizing against regulatory drag, and so, we might be on the verge of being back to a 3% annual rate of economic growth.

  • Sky

    I certainly am better off. I quit working, got free health care, several extensions on my unemployment money, more food stamps, housing subsidy, and I took out some more student loans so I could get an i7 smoking computer to play games.
    What’s not to like???

    • guest

      Sew sets out Freebie Bean, a Jo-Jo Biden, tome and tome again.

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