Special Report

Obamanomics 101

Mid-term quiz on what passes for economics.

By 10.21.10

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With days to go before the Nov. 2 election, this quick, eight-question quiz will test your ability to think and talk Obamanomics.

1. In talking Obamanomics, when you say "tax cuts," what you really mean are:  (a) transfer payments to people who pay no taxes, (b) tax reductions to actual taxpayers, or (c) the Marxist belief that in the fullness of time, the all-powerful state will "wither away."

2.  Real tax cuts made to date by the Obama administration add up to:  (a) $1.2 trillion, (b) zero, or (c) any number that pops into Barbara Boxer's head.

3. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. economy has added or subtracted how many jobs:  (a) plus 3 million, based on computer models not of what happened, but what was supposed to happen, or (b) minus 2.5 million, based on the actual data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. Over the next two years, "hundreds of thousands of new American jobs" are most likely to be created by:  (a) the transition to a "green" economy (through heavy federal subsidies for new wind and solar plants, combined with $7,500 income tax rebate checks for purchasers of the new Chevy "Volt" and other hopelessly overpriced electric cars), or (b) a normal cyclical recovery, if it is ever allowed to happen.

5. President Obama deserves personal credit for: (a) staving off the onset of the next Great Depression, or (b) presiding over the weakest recovery from an economic downturn in more than 60 years.

6. In adding coverage to 30 million uninsured and extending costly new health care mandates to all insurance plans, Obamacare will:  (a) allow everyone who wants to keep his current health insurance plan to do so, or (b) play havoc with existing health care plans and lead to the elimination of the popular Medicare Advantage program for seniors.

7. As a result of placing a sixth of the U.S. economy under federal control, Obamacare will:  (a) be revenue-neutral, not adding "a single dime to the deficit," or (b) cause premiums to soar and federal deficits to mount, and (c) give government bureaucrats ever-increasing power to ration health care as the only available means of containing government-contrived and government-mandated cost growth. (Hint: this question has two correct answers.)

8. The greatest threat to the future of the American economy lies in:  (a) "blind faith in the market," or (b) blind faith in the failed policies of Obamanomics.

For spendthrift Democrats to go around claiming that they have "cut taxes" is to engage in the most deliberate and outrageous obfuscation -- throwing dirt in the eyes of an American public. What Obama and the Democrats have done, in the course of running up $2.7 trillion in federal deficits and spending nearly 25% of GDP over the past two years, is to put checks in the mail to people who, for the most part, pay no income tax -- meaning that these payments from the federal government out of borrowed money are indistinguishable from welfare checks. The Obama administration has not cut tax rates for real taxpayers and has no intention of doing so (with huge tax increases soon to take effect with the expiration of the earlier round of George W. Bush tax cuts).

But none of this stops Democratic Party stalwarts from playacting the part of favoring tax cuts. On CNN, California Senator Boxer made the laughable claim that she had supported "$1.2 trillion in tax cuts" through the stimulus bill -- which would suggest that the entire stimulus bill, and more, was devoted to tax cuts. In fact, she began her interview with Wolf Blitzer in claiming she had supported $2.2 trillion in tax cuts.

Since Obama came to office in January 2009, the unemployment has risen from just under 8% to close to 10% -- where it has stayed for the past year.  There has been a net loss of about 2.5 million jobs.  Even so, the Obama administration continues to claim that it has "created or saved" about 3 million jobs.  That is a meaningless metric, which is not based on any evidence.  It comes from plugging data on government spending into a Keynesian computer model and assuming (against a great weight of contrary evidence) that every dollar spent would provide $1.50 in economic growth and job creation.  It is merely a restatement of what the target was at the outset of the stimulus program, as opposed to an objective measure of what the program has actually achieved.

In recent months, President Obama and Vice President Biden have gone about the country talking up a few Potemkin Village-type projects (mostly wind and solar energy projects) as shining examples of "the jobs of the future." But the cost per job created in these projects has been shown to exceed $1 million -- meaning that the expenditure has no doubt eliminated more jobs than it has created through the government-directed diversion of scarce resources to unproductive enterprise.

Not since the Great Depression has there been so little bounce to any U.S. recovery from an economic downturn.  Not since the Great Depression has this country been saddled with a government with so little faith in the market economy and so much hostility toward private enterprise. 

November 2, 2010 is not destined to be a date that will be celebrated by devotees of progressivism.  Across the country, Democrats have gone silent on Obamacare.  This is one part of Obamanomics they'd rather forget -- at least for now.  Obamacare includes a huge premium subsidy program, which would have the effect of taking money from those in the top quintile of earnings (beginning at $90,000 for a family of four) and channeling it to those in the bottom four quintiles.  That is how this government proposes to wage war on the "rich," which really means anyone who is even moderately successful in an economic sense.

Look for a quieter, gentler brand of progressivism between now and Nov. 2.  You will hear of Obama's support for "lean" and "efficient" government and "tax cuts" for people and businesses.  Pay no attention to any of this.  It is the voice of Obamanomics running scared; of Obamanomics that dares not speak its name.  It's not the real deal.

If you were able to man up and answer a) to all the questions posed in my quiz, you may advance to the head of the line -- putting one hand over your heart (knowing you have done your bit to cause "the rise of the oceans to slow and our planet to heal"), and extending the other to collect a $7,500 tax rebate against your purchase of the Chevy Volt from Government Motors.  In the blind faith you have put in Obamanomics, you may even be forgiven for thinking you are responsible for saving someone's job.

 

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About the Author
Andrew B. Wilson, a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and a former foreign correspondent, writes from St. Louis.