If Barack Obama is allowed to “finished what he started,” government dependency is all that we’ll have left.
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But even this analysis understates the success of Reagan’s policies — and how foolish Democrats are to raise the comparison — because the reported unemployment rate under Barack Obama has been held down by a dramatic drop in the civilian labor force participation rate. The most common unemployment statistics only include people (over 16 years old, neither in prison nor in the military) who are counted as being the labor force, i.e. who either have jobs or are actively seeking jobs. People who have given up looking for work (or whom the government categorizes as having given up) do not count as unemployed even though many or most of them would take jobs if they could find them.
In the first month of Reagan’s presidency, the participation rate was 63.9 percent. In July of his fourth year in office, it had risen to 64.4 percent. Meanwhile, over the same period during Barack Obama’s term in office, the participation rate dropped from 65.7 percent to 63.7 percent. Reagan was creating optimism while Obama has created surrender and dependency.
In other words, because the labor force participation rate dropped under Barack Obama, the current unemployment rate understates the number of people who have lost jobs during his presidency. And even with this advantage, Obama is presiding over a higher unemployment rate than when he took office. Conversely, because the participation rate rose under Reagan, his unemployment rate understates the number of people who got jobs during an analogous time period.
Therefore, it makes sense, rather than looking just at the unemployment rate, to look at actual employment data. Using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I have created a chart of the percentage change of the actual number of non-farm jobs in the U.S. during the first 43 months of the Reagan and Obama presidencies.
The difference between the two is dramatic: After more than 3½ years of Barack Obama being in office, there are fewer jobs in America today than there were when he was inaugurated. During the same period of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the number of jobs in America grew by more than four percent, despite unemployment having hit its peak more than a year later into his first term.
Other statistics point to the utter failure of Barack Obama’s economic policies and how self-destructively foolish it would be for Americans to give him a second term, to “finish what he started”:
• Median annual household income has plummeted far more during the Obama presidency, including after the official end of the recession, than it did during the Bush years, according to Sentier Research.
• When campaigning for president in 20007, Barack Obama called the roughly $3.75 trillion of national debt accumulated in just under eight years of the George W. Bush presidency “unpatriotic” and “irresponsible.” (And he was right.) Yet Barack Obama has added about $5.5 trillion, almost 50 percent more than Bush did, to our national debt in half the time. Our national debt now exceeds $16 trillion…and exceeds our GDP. Our national debt to GDP ratio is now similar to those of Ireland and Portugal.
• Record-high food stamp use, with Fiscal Year 2011 spending on the program of almost $72 billion, more than double the level of just three years earlier.
• As noted by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation whom I spoke with for this article, “According to government statistics, over 100 million Americans now receive some sort of means-tested welfare benefit [which excludes Social Security and Medicare] each month, nearly one third of the American population. President Obama seeks to increase this type of spending even after the recession ends.”
• The Associated Press has reported that poverty levels in America are soon to reach a 46-year high, and that “demographers also say [that] poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5 percent for many more years.” Heritage’s Rector makes a compelling case that by “excluding 97 percent of all welfare benefits when counting ‘income,’” the Census Bureau massively overstates poverty in America — playing right into the hands of those who aim to increase the welfare state. However, these statistics do point to a dramatic decline in American self-sufficiency and corresponding increase in dependency. Welfare has well-understood employment and income disincentive effects: As Mr. Rector noted, increasing transfer payments to the poor paradoxically and sadly increases their likelihood of staying poor — and remaining dependent on government, which is the real motivation of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
If Barack Obama actually gets to finish what he started, there won’t be a single American not on the government dole.
August employment data will be released on Friday, just in time to offer the latest off-key economic note less than twelve hours after Barack Obama sings a siren song from Charlotte claiming that we’re on the right track, that a bet on him “is paying off.”
While few will believe Obama’s claim to have helped the economy or that he will be able to help it in the future, Republicans must make clearer that the reason we’re not facing even more dire economic circumstances is that American voters partially undid their 2008 mistake in 2010. In 2012, it is time to undo the rest of our ill-fated experiment with Alinskyite socialism and economic ignorance and finally bring on the “end of an error.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online