The urgent issues this year, according to American voters, are the economy and jobs. Team Obama’s determination to focus on other things is understandable; the President’s disappointing performance on these issues makes a jarring contrast to the Messianism of 2008:
- Obama promised to cut the deficit in half in four years; instead, this year’s deficit ($1.3 trillion) will be five times the Congressional Budget Office’s projection ($264 billion, including the Bush bail-outs).
- He projected robust economic growth of 5.23 percent last year; according to the Federal Reserve, actual growth was a dismal 1.61 percent.
- He trumpeted a report by the then-chairman of his Counsel of Economic Advisors projecting that the unemployment rate would be down to 6 percent by now; it’s actually 8.1 percent, even higher than the 7.8 percent during the recession, when Obama was sworn in.
These unemployment figures don’t count those so discouraged that they have given up looking for work. Their numbers have been on the rise: the decline in “labor force participation” (the fraction of the working-age population who are employed or actively looking for work) that began during the recession has persisted throughout Obama’s “recovery.”
Of those not in the labor force, 6.3 million “currently want a job.” Adding them to the 12.5 million the government counts as officially “unemployed” makes 18.8 million Americans without work. Adding them to the 153-million-person labor force totals 173 million people, of whom more than 10 percent are involuntarily out of work.
Obama promised in 2009 that his “stimulus” would “create or save 3.5 million jobs over the next two years”; in reality, it had a negligible impact: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, after two years, more than 3 million fewer Americans were employed.
Meanwhile, those fortunate enough to still have full-time jobs have seen median earnings rise a whopping $30 a week in current dollars, says the BLS. However, after adjusting for inflation, their real earnings have actually fallen by $10 a week under Obama.
Actually, Obama’s policies are costing most Americans far more than the $10 per week reflected in the BLS numbers. For example, Obama suggested in 2008 that — thanks to his “green energy” subsidies — we wouldn’t be “talking about high fuel prices next summer or the next summer after that or the summer after that”; in March he doubled down, adding that this boondoggle will save a typical family “about $8,000 a year” on gasoline. In reality, the average U.S. household spent more than $368 a month on gas last year, more than double what they were paying back when Obama took the oath of office.
Obama’s economic failure has come at enormous human cost in suffering and misery. Contrary to his promise to “build a strong middle class,” the average household’s annual income has dropped by $4,300 during his administration. Contrary to his pledge to lift “2 million Americans from poverty,” 14.3 million more Americans are on Food Stamps than when Obama took office.
If I had to run on that record, I’d talk about Mitt Romney’s dog, too.