Getting to the meat of the Obama years…
Getting to the meat of the Obama years…
Thursday, June 14th, was the day of dueling speeches on the economy and the way forward. One from Obama, they other from the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Obama’s was built up by the media as the beginning of a new tone for the Obama campaign on the economy. The fire was going to be back and we were going to see something new to recapture the “magic” and “energy” of the 2008 campaign. Well, it didn’t. In fact, it received quite a bit of criticism from liberal commentators for being long (54 minutes), repetitive (Obama repeated himself several times) and unoriginal (speech was simply a regurgitation of past speeches). The GOP agreed and provided this:
There were essentially two main points to Obama’s speech: 1) it is George W. Bush’s fault, and 2) at least we’re better off than Europe. Someone probably should have told the Campaigner-in-Chief that we’re notEuropeand that we probably have slightly higher expectations as to what is and is not acceptable economically. And really, the man has been blaming Bush for his entire time in office, so there was no surprise there.
We’ve heard a lot from Obama though on the growth of the economy. He has made lots of claims about how things are getting better and that we’re on course towards recovery. That’s right, we’re on course towards recovery. Never mind that we were told in 2010 that we were about to enjoy the Summer of Recovery, which was to include 500,000 new jobs per month. That made the May job report numbers so shocking. Experts were predicting non-farm payrolls to rise 150,000 and keep the unemployment rate at 8.1%. That is not what happened. Instead, non-farm payroll rose only 69,000 and the unemployment rate went back to 8.2%. But there is more.
At the bottom of the May report summary, there is a bit on the revision of numbers for the March report. In March, it was reported that 154,000 jobs were created. However, that number has been revised down to only 77,000- half of what was reported. Numbers get revised all the time, after all, the monthly jobs reports are immediate reflections of the jobs reporting data. However, to have the numbers literally cut in half is alarming, but what’s more alarming are the weekly jobless claims. They get revised as well, and since the week of 19 February 2011, every weekly jobless report has been revised up. Every. Single. One. That’s 65 straight weeks of underestimating jobless claims.
Really? After getting it wrong 65 weeks and counting, wouldn’t someone maybe error on the side caution? But this goes to a much larger issue, one that centrally surrounds the economy and Obama’s perception of it.
Obama took some flack on the 8th of June when he said, ““We’ve created 4.3 million new jobs over the past 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine.” He then went on to say that the real problem is that State and local governments are laying off workers and that we need to help them out. Romney and the GOP pounced on Obama for the comment, to which he walked it back with this, “It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference,” adding, “That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger.”
Talking? The economy’s not fine, so I had a press conference? Obama has tried to pass this off on the GOP controlled House of Representatives as the bottleneck for jobs programs to get through Congress. This is, of course incredibly inaccurate, and he knows it. There are 30 bipartisan jobs bills that have passed the House and are awaiting action in the Democrat controlled Senate. The bottleneck does not lie with the House or the GOP, it is the Senate Democrat Majority leader Harry Reid who has not brought the bills forward for a vote.
Obama’s propaganda mouthpiece, Jay Carney, chastised the media when they asked about Obama’s “doing fine” comment. “Certainly we believe that you all ought to do your jobs and report on context, of course, and we think that’s important generally,” said Carney. Hmmmm, let’s put the economy in context:
A new survey from the Federal Reserve found that both American income and wealth have deteriorated dramatically since 2007, as the median real income has fallen by 7.7%.
How’s that for context?
What is surprising to me is how the Obama campaign actually thinks the context works in their favor. David Plouffe, responding to Dem concerns over recent bumps for the campaign, said, “”it’s going to be about: Who do I trust more in [his] approach to the debt? Who do I trust more to create middle-class jobs? Who do I trust more to create an energy future? Who do I trust more as it relates toAfghanistan?” Well, finally something he and I can agree on, though I don’t think these work out in his favor at all. After all, when it comes to the debt, Obama doesn’t have a hope or a prayer. After failing in his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, he has managed to not only generate the greatest deficits in our nation’s history; he has contributed a full third to the national debt.
And jobs? Well, we’ve already covered that, now haven’t we. Obama’s exponential increase in government red tape and the uncertainty of his policies are not helping the job environment. Citibank did a survey of small business and found the 23% had not paid themselves for up to a year. That’s alarming on its own, but this wasn’t; small business is holding off on new hires because they do not know what Obamacare and future taxes will look like.
At the end of the day, I think Plouffe is right, though again I don’t think Obama stands a chance on these issues. According to aGallupsurvey done in February of this year, the economy (92%) is the most important issue to voters for November. This is followed by unemployment (82%), Federal budget deficits (79%), Obamacare (75%), terrorism/national security (72%), and taxes (71%). Note that the wealth gap is about 15 points below the previously mentioned issues and immigration is nearly 20 points (though I think with Obama’s recent move, this is going to shoot up in importance) below. And social issues don’t really bear any importance, which makes Obama’s recent Gay Pride whatever seem like a waste of capital.
This graphic, however, is what I think is most important. This election is going to be about the independent vote, so it is interesting to see how the independents measure up against the two parties. For instance, 80% of independents are concerned with the Federal deficits while only 66% of Dems seemed concerned. Conversely, Obama has been harping on his class warfare for months now, however, only half of independents are worried about the wealth gap, especially compared to 70% concerned about taxes or the 80% concerned about deficits.
Gallupisn’t the only one to find independents skeptical of Obama’s job growth rhetoric. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 52% of independents agreed with the idea that Obama had not helped to create jobs. Some 57% of registered voters said that Obamacare had hurt the economy. But let us put something in context for this poll; it included 766 registered voters – 446 Democrats, 335 Republicans, and 110 independents. If one assumes that all Dems support Obamacare (which is only a slight stretch), that means all of the independents and GOP were against it. If that representation extrapolates out, well, that’s certainly not good for the administration when it comes to its singular and signature legislation.
Obama is desperate to try and make the election about an imaginary choice between what Obama envisions and what Romney envisions. In 2008 that worked because he had no record to run on. However, now that he has a record, he’s desperate to run away from it.
Obama owns this economy. Small business isn’t hiring specifically because of Obamacare and the impending taxmagedon- no one else owns those issues. His energy policy (or the lack thereof) has gas doubled what it was when he took office and includes thousands of real and potential jobs lost (Off-shore drilling and the potential of Keystone Pipeline). And no, he has not created millions of “green jobs”, which was clearly exposed by House Representative Darrell Issa’s questions to Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Josh Galvin. Sorry, janitors and oil lobbyists are not “green jobs”, but then again, why would we be surprised at the effort to manufacture politically expedient definitions for propaganda purposes (remember the saved and created job metric, which previously never existed and can’t be verified in the first place).
Obama’s reelection depends on his campaigns ability to work the smoke and mirrors of 2008. The problem for him is that the conditions that got him elected are no longer there. Obama got elected on three things: 1) a terrified electorate, 2) a horribly run GOP campaign and 3) a candidate with no record of failure saying the things people wanted to hear. The electorate took a chance with Obama because they didn’t feel like they really had a choice.
Well, now they have a choice. The electorate is concerned- not terrified- and actually getting pretty angry. Obama’s been working hard to deflect that anger on to everyone else. Whether it is Bush, Europe’s economy (which he’s trying desperately to emulate),Bush,Japan’s tsunami, Bush, the GOP, Bush, Corporations, Bush, Bain Capital, Bush, BP Oil spill, Bush- did I mention Bush- Obama has refused to acknowledge that his policies have in any way shape or form contributed to the economic malaise we find ourselves in.
Secondly, whatever criticisms one may or may not have with Romney, he is infinitely better at managing his political campaign than McCain ever was. Romney has been agile, quick, aggressive and proactive. McCain was none of those things and so he was easily out maneuvered by Obama and a media complicit in getting Obama elected.
Finally, Obama has a record and will be judged against it. The platitudes, generalizations, slogans and empty comments won’t persuade- or more importantly dissuade- voters this time around. He can pretend that being economically ahead of Europe is a positive, except that we’ve always been better off thanEuropeeconomically. He can harp and moan about Bush, but folks are getting tired of that. Obama wants this election to be a choice. Well, it is a choice. Do we want more Executive abuse of power, rampant over spending, partisan enforcement of the law, and divide and conquer politics (that is what class warfare is), or do the people want a breath of fresh air that will focus on the economy instead of pet ideological payoffs to constituencies. Romney isn’t the perfect candidate, but I’ll choose him over the perfect disaster that has been the Obama presidency.