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Numbers Reveal Truth About Obama Economic Success Claims—and GOP Condemnation
The Daily Beast ^ | 6/3/2012 | Michael Medved

Posted on 06/03/2012 4:14:55 AM PDT by RightFighter

Raw data show Obama can’t honestly claim a good record as a job creator, but they also suggest that the wild spending growth Romney and company decry has already begun to subside under the influence of the Republican House.

The outcome of the upcoming electoral battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will depend on public perceptions of the president’s economic stewardship, with particular emphasis on his performance on the all-important issue of jobs.

At a May 24th campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa the president declared that “federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any president in almost sixty years.”

Has the White House compiled an impressive record of “putting Americans back to work” as the Democrats proudly boast, or did administration policies actually delay normal processes of recovery, taking a bad situation and “making it worse” as the Romney campaign insists?

Leaving aside the dubious nature of the proposition that any president actually creates jobs (other than new hires for the White House), there’s an easy way to cut through the dizzying flurry of conflicting statistics that partisans on both sides passionately promote: checking the raw, readily available data from the Department of Labor on how many Americans are working today compared with the number who held jobs at the end of the Bush administration.

By that standard, the nation unequivocally lost jobs in the first 39 months of the Obama presidency: with 142,287,000 working in May, 2012 (the most recent statistics available) compared with 143,338,000 at the end of December, 2008—the last employment numbers announced under President George W. Bush.

Moreover, these job losses occurred at a time of rapid population growth, with more than 8,100,000 new American residents (through both birth and immigration) over the same period. This explains the more dramatic increase of those listed by the government as “unemployed” (from 11,108,000 to 12,720,000) and the even more notable rise among those “not in the labor force” (from 80,588,000 all the way to 87,958,000).

With 342,000 Americans in April alone giving up on the search for a job, the overall percentage of work-age population either employed or looking for work dropped in April to 63.6 percent—the lowest level since December, 1981, in the darkest days of the disastrous Carter-Reagan recession. The slight uptick in labor force participation in May—0.2 percent—hardly removed the sting from disastrous numbers for the overall job market.

In other words, statistics strongly support the common perception that jobs remain fiendishly difficult to find, despite the administration’s happy talk about a burgeoning recovery. The president may not qualify as the catastrophic job killer of GOP caricature, but he can hardly claim the gleaming mantle of a robust job creator.

Nor can he plausibly pass himself off as a champion of tight-fisted spending restraint while throwing down a challenge to skeptical Republicans in another crucial issue of the campaign. At a May 24 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, the president declared that “federal spending since I took office has risen at the slowest pace of any president in almost 60 years.”

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked this claim and bestowed on the commander-in-chief the coveted “Three Pinocchios” designation.

Again, a quick check of numbers at the White House’s own website gives the lie to Obama claims of cutting deficits and bringing the budget under control: the last budget signed by George W. Bush and passed by the Democratic Congress (for fiscal year 2008) amounted to $2.77 trillion with a deficit of $459 billion. The next year’s budget (signed by Obama and again authorized by the Pelosi-Reid Congress) included a great deal of “emergency spending” for the Obama Stimulus Package and reached $3.52 trillion with a deficit of 1.4 trillion. In other words, deficit spending more than tripled in Obama’s first year as president, and it’s remained at comparably crippling levels ever since.

As Andrew Taylor fact-checks the White House claims for the Associated Press, the president “measures up” with a 9.7 percent spending increase in 2009 “much of which is attributable to Obama” and “a 7.8 percent increase in 2010, followed by slower spending growth over 2011-13. Much of the slower growth reflects the influence of Republicans retaking control of the House and their budget and debt deal last summer with Obama.”

This summary raises one more crucial point indisputably indicated by universally accepted statistics: the dramatic difference in fiscal performance between Congresses controlled by Republicans and those dominated by Democrats. In fact, partisan majorities in the House of Representatives (where the Constitution stipulates that spending bills must originate) seem to matter more to the scope of deficit spending than whether a donkey or an elephant occupies the Oval Office.

President Obama rightly chides his Republican presidential predecessors for disappointing records of fiscal management, but fails to note that for all 12 years of the Reagan and first Bush administrations, and for the last two difficult years of the second Bush administration, Democrats wielded big majorities in the House.

It’s no accident that Bill Clinton enjoyed a vastly better record of economic management in the six years (1996-2001) he hammered out budgets with a Republican House (and averaged a surplus of more than 1 percent of GDP) than the two years he collaborated with his fellow Democrats (and racked up deficits of 2.5 percent). By the same token, George W. Bush averaged deficits at a typical level of 2.5 percent of GDP during the six years he worked with Denny Hastert and fellow Republicans, but when Nancy Pelosi took over the House during his last two years, the numbers exploded to a disastrous rate of 6.7 percent.

In raw dollar terms, the last “all-Republican budget” of 2007 (devised entirely by a GOP president and approved by a Republican House) brought a modest deficit of $160.7 billion, while the first “all-Democratic budget” of the Obama era in 2010 (wholly attributable to President Obama, and passed by the Pelosi House) amounted to deficit spending of $1.293 trillion—or eight times more than the bad old days of Bush.

The bottom line of any honest, uninflected examination of readily available budgetary and employment numbers provides both bad news and good news for President Obama’s reelection efforts.

The bad news: while he hardly qualifies as the devastating, prosperity-wrecking destroyer depicted in conservative propaganda, he certainly can’t claim a good record as a job creator with fewer people working today than when he took office, and vastly more having left the labor force altogether.

But the good news for Obama from the raw numbers also suggests that the wild spending growth that Romney and company regularly (and rightly) decry has already begun to subside under the influence of the Republican House. Based on historical patterns, the deficit might well continue to decline in a second Obama term—as long as the GOP maintains control of Congress and exercises stern supervision of the administration’s credit card.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: budget; deficit; obama; republicans
I think Medved does a pretty good job of putting things into perspective, although his "silver lining" statement at the end seems to assume that Obama will be re-elected and the Republicans will maintain control of the House. I don't think that will happen. If Obama wins, it will be because his voters got energized and that will spell bad news for House Republicans (and the country).
1 posted on 06/03/2012 4:15:12 AM PDT by RightFighter
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To: RightFighter
the wild spending growth Romney and company decry has already begun to subside under the influence of the Republican House.

Good, now make plans to do the right thing after the election to quadruple the efforts. Cut departments, enact a balanced budget amendment, and sell all the federal lands immediately.

2 posted on 06/03/2012 4:33:04 AM PDT by ROCKLOBSTER (Celebrate Republicans Freed the Slaves Month.)
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To: RightFighter

Honestly, Michael should stop looking at the numbers and applying his own brand of predictive logic and take a damned drive out in this country and see the effects of Obama on car dealerships, businesses that sell tractors, combines, machines...see the empty stores in strip malls, see some of the former “boomtown” home neighborhood projects with fancy entrance walls and dozens of empty lots sporting only the light green pipes and electrical stubouts.....

I see these things EVERY day. All Michael is looking at in his study are numbers whose provenance (meaning many of them are from Obama’s accountants and complicit media) is dubious.

3 posted on 06/03/2012 4:48:28 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: RightFighter; All
BUT, have you seen this; Debt Up $1.59T Under GOP House—More in 15 Months Than First 97 Congresses Combined!!
4 posted on 06/03/2012 4:52:14 AM PDT by harpu ( "'s better to be hated for who you are than loved for someone you're not!")
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To: Gaffer
Medved should stick to movie reviews. His analysis is extraordinarily shallow and narrow because the economy is not just jobs created and government spending. I see what you see Gaffer and it isn't getting better. I have also seen more local companies where I am are still reducing their workforce or cutting back on hours. Medved says nothing about the impending impact of Obama regulations, especially of coal, that will further devastate the economy.

Obama is a “devastating, prosperity-wrecking destroyer” and that is not propaganda. A Republican House that can do no better then passing continuing resolutions cannot undo the damage inflicted by excessive spending. As tax revenue falls, deficits will increase. Medved doesn't address any of the dynamics. His “analysis” is worthless.

5 posted on 06/03/2012 5:25:23 AM PDT by trubolotta
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To: Gaffer

I hear you. Same here where I live.

6 posted on 06/03/2012 5:32:27 AM PDT by Running On Empty (The three sorriest words: "It's too late")
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To: harpu

That’s an extremely misleading headline. If it said “more in 15 months than LAST 97 Congresses combined” then it would be much more dramatic. The headline doesn’t show that they’re talking about spending through 1984. It wasn’t until the 60’s that entitlement spending really took off, which is the main driver of the debt that is building so quickly now. I’m not saying that the money being spent is trivial - by no means is it trivial, but this headline is like me saying “I spent more money in the last year than I did in my first 20 years COMBINED!” That would be a completely true statement, but it has no relevance to anything.

The fact is that, short of shutting down the government, the Republicans have to go along with continuing resolutions, since the Democrats won’t put forward a budget. While we can debate the merits of shutting down the government, there’s no doubt that Republicans would be portrayed in the media as evil men who want to see children dying in the streets if the government were to shut down. This spending is not due to Republican proposals.

7 posted on 06/03/2012 6:50:48 AM PDT by RightFighter (It was all for nothing.)
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To: trubolotta

I’m not sure why you guys are attacking Medved’s analysis, which is HELPFUL to us. Nowhere does he claim that things are rosy in the economy. Quite the opposite - he’s saying that the jobs picture is nowhere near as good as Obama would have you believe. He wasn’t trying to do a complete analysis of the Obama economy. Jeez - did you even read it all?

8 posted on 06/03/2012 6:55:34 AM PDT by RightFighter (It was all for nothing.)
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