Human Events Blog

Ignore your lying eyes! You ARE better off, darn it!

After a rough weekend of Obama surrogates stumbling around the dreaded “are people better off now than they were four years ago?” question, it seems like they’re slowly coming around to saying “yes.”  The old strategy was to say “no, of course not, but that doesn’t matter, because the Bush disease was so awful that nobody could have done a better job of keeping America from dying on the table than Dr. Obama.”

This was considered the best possible answer, because only a fool could look at current economic news – unemployment stuck over 8 percent for a historic three and a half years, a shrunken workforce, GDP growth stagnant, consumer and business confidence down, declining median income, a rising Misery Index – and conclude any of it was better than conditions when Obama took office.  But it seems like people weren’t really going for the “good as it gets” argument, so the Democrats have transitioned to laughable efforts at claiming Obama’s economy really is an improvement.  It’s like the old gag sign you see hanging in some offices: “Beatings will continue until morale improves.”  Statistics will be waterboarded until all of you surly voters stop believing your lying eyes!

There are two key pieces of disinformation in this effort, both on heavy display at the Democratic National Convention.  The first is to cite a single bad month when Obama took office, and a large number of jobs were lost.  This number is then compared to 163,000 jobs created in July.  See?  Everything’s better now!

Of course, the Democrat pushing this silly talking point won’t mention that 163,000 jobs barely keeps up with population growth, which is why unemployment has remained stuck at over 8 percent for 42 months.  In fact, the official unemployment rate ticked up from 8.2 to 8.3 percent in July, despite this wonderful Obama job creation.  That’s because some people who previously dropped out of the workforce completely attempted to re-enter it.  And Democrats really hate talking about the people Obama has blown out of the workforce – they simply do not exist, which is why the heavily massaged U-3 unemployment rate is gospel unless Democrats want to ignore people emerging from the shadowy void of long-term unemployment, and talk about raw job creation numbers instead.

As the House Ways and Means Committee recently pointed out, “During the Obama Administration, total employment has grown by a net of just 33,000 new employees, while the number of people no longer in the labor force has grown by 7.8 million.  This means that, during the Obama years, new labor force dropouts have outnumbered new employees by 237 to 1.”  If all these semi-permanently unemployed, but officially invisible, workers were added back into the labor pool, Obama’s current unemployment rate as of July would be 11.7 percent.

Edward Lazear, chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in July, “There hasn’t been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office. Moreover, the unemployment rate, which we were told would not exceed 8% if we enacted Mr. Obama’s stimulus package (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009), has never fallen below 8% during his presidency. The rate has averaged 9.2% since February 2009.”  (Emphasis mine.)

You can see why Obama apologists are eager to work some card tricks with those statistics, cherry-picking whichever number can be used to make his record look least awful.  And let’s not even get started on the “seasonal adjustments,” or talk about the horrifying 80,000 job creation figure for June.  (How was that George Bush’s fault?)

Also, picking out a single bad month from early in Obama’s term to show us how much President Incomplete has improved our position is especially funny when you consider that every single one of the Obama Administration’s last 30 awful unemployment reports has included this phrase: “It is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”  Well, unless you really need to make Obama’s policies look good.  Then you can pick any two months, separated by as much distance as you like, and read as much into them as necessary!

The other cooked statistic thrown around by numerous Democrats last night, including Bill Clinton, is so bizarrely dishonest that CNN felt compelled to fact-check it to death: Obama has supposedly “created 4.5 million jobs.”  Gosh, then how come we still have soaring unemployment, which appears to be getting worse based on projections for this Friday’s August report?  Obama’s creating a billion zillion jobs, so what gives with all these unemployed people?

Simple: the Democrats get that statistic by completely disregarding the first two years of the Obama Administration.  You heard that right.  The situation has modestly improved since January 2010, so everything before that simply doesn’t count.  The actual net gain under Obama, using the most generous measurements, is about 300,000 private-sector jobs.  That’s the worst job-creation record of any President since 1945.  Even Jimmy Carter managed to create 2.1 million jobs.

The “4.5 million jobs” talking point  is the kind of argument that would make sense only to a very small child, or someone prepared to think like one.  “Sure, I wrecked the house this morning, but I’ve been super good since lunch, so I deserve ice cream!”

Furthermore, Obama apologists squirm like hooked fish when you ask them what kind of jobs are being created.  The short answer is: Part-time jobs.  A lot of the jobs lost during these monthly transactions were full-time; a lot of the jobs created were part-time.  Part-time jobs are growing about three times as fast as full-time jobs.  Low-wage jobs are growing three times as fast as well-compensated occupations.

It’s deeply insulting to the American people to tell them they can’t do any better than this non-recovery, with less obstructive government-focused leadership in the White House.  Who really believes this is as good as it gets?

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