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Reflections on a depressing yet reascendant Obama presidency.
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As the economist Bradley R. Schiller noted in a WSJ op-ed piece on Feb. 14, 2009:
President Barack Obama has turned fearmongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November election. He has done so again to sway congressional votes for his stimulus package.
In his remarks, every gloomy statistic becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today’s economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover.
The fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don’t come close to those of the 1930. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate.
… Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren’t like to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to a continuing decline in consumer confidence.
The $787 billion (and eventually to become $860 billion) stimulus program did a lot of different things. But it did not, in any logical or verifiable sense, create jobs or stimulate the economy.
In January and February of 2009 the administration rounded up votes for the stimulus program on the grounds that it would keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. It then promptly soared above 10 percent.
On Feb. 17, 2010, I wrote a column describing how members of the cabinet, like “members of the Audubon Society on a major bird-sighting mission,” had fanned out across the United States that week “on a job-spotting mission” aimed at supporting the president’s claim that the $787 billion program was “not a total waste of money.” Even then, “apart from a few sickly chicks living in federal incubators, they could not find a single job capable of independent flight and life in the wild.”
By mid-2010 — more than a year and a quarter after the launch of the stimulus program — the government was reporting that it had “created or saved” approximately three million jobs — a period of time in which the U.S. economy had a net loss of 2.35 million jobs.
America’s narrow unemployment now stands at 7.9 percent, but it jumps to 14.6 percent when accounting for involuntary part-time workers.
According to the latest jobs report, a total of only 294,000 net new jobs have been created by the Obama administration since January of 2009. By contrast, over the same period of time, the Obama administration has added 75 times as many people — or 14.7 million people in all — to food stamp rolls.
Play-Acting at Leadership
On the night of April 20, 2010, disaster struck the giant Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Crew members were in the final hours of attempting to secure a “nightmare well” about a mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico for temporary closure and later production. Undetected, a large quantity of gas and oil entered the well and surged upward through the drilling riser. Upon reaching the surface, the hydrocarbons exploded — killing 11 of the 126 people aboard the vessel and unloosing what many called the worst environmental disaster of all time, as thousands of gallons of oil poured into the gulf from the gaping hole in the ocean floor.
President Obama responded to this crisis with a combination of showboating, arrogance, and naiveté — later to be repeated in other crises, most notably including the murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomatic personnel who happened to be at U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 of this year — the eleventh anniversary of the original 9 / 11 / 2001.
More than a month and a half after the blow-out, he told reporters:
The American people should know that from the moment the disaster began, the federal government was in charge of the response effort…