Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

August 7, 2012

President Obama’s policies failing to revive the American economy

More important than the lofty generalities candidate Barack Obama fed his fans about healing the planet, slowing the rise of the oceans, ending political divisions in America and ushering in an era of hope and change, as president he and his administration gave Americans strong assurances of better things to come.

He promised to create five million new jobs just in the energy sector, and in promoting the $767 billion stimulus plan his economic advisors Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein predicted unemployment would not rise above 8 percent. In the first year of his presidency, Mr. Obama pledged to “cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office,” to “lift two million Americans from poverty” and “jolt our economy back to life.”

The president told NBC’s Matt Lauer January of 2009, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s gonna be a one-term proposition.”

Last week’s July jobs numbers show continued misery across the nation, again calling attention to Mr. Obama’s failure to deliver on his economic pledges. Since he didn’t “have this done in three years,” why is he running for re-election?

The unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent, far above the 5.6 percent rate that his economic team predicted for July 2012 if Congress passed the $767 billion stimulus plan.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report for July showed that 195,000 fewer people were working in the U.S. than in June. Further, the BLS figures showed that 150,000 more people became discouraged and dropped out of the labor force.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama struggled to put a positive spin on these dismal numbers, boasting, “we tried our plan — and it worked.”

Really? Let’s review the results: Forty-two straight months of unemployment above 8 percent; 8.2 million people working part-time who want full-time work; a record 88 million Americans who are not in the labor force; 1.9 percent GDP growth in the past quarter; $5 trillion in new debt; the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating; 38 percent of Americans living paycheck to paycheck; 45 million Americans on food stamps; food prices continuing to increase dramatically; and the poverty level likely to rise to the highest level in nearly 50 years.

If this is what a successful Obama economic policy looks like, let’s go back to the Bush years, where those “top-down” economic policies Mr. Obama so loves to hate created 52 straight months of job creation, and an unemployment rate that never exceeded 6.3 percent following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, despite the attending chaos they caused. Oh, for the good old days.

The continued poor economy and dismal jobs pictures since he won the office he so aggressively sought are precisely what we should expect from Mr. Obama’s big spending economic philosophy.

On the campaign trail, he said, “You grow an economy from the middle out, and from the bottom up ... When middle-class families have money in their pockets, they go out and buy that new car or that new appliance or the new computer for their kids or they go out to a restaurant — heaven forbid they take a vacation once in a while — and that money goes back into the economy and businesses do well because they’ve got more customers.” That same example applies to wealthy Americans.

The example supports leaving more money in the private economy, which is a point in favor of low income taxes for all. However, it omits a critical element: Before mom and dad can buy a new car or even a toaster, at least one of them has to have a job.

However, if they work in the coal industry or the space industry, or in a related business, thanks to the Obama administration there’s a good chance they either don’t have a job, or soon will lose it.

At a time of dangerously high unemployment, Mr. Obama’s jobs program focuses not on creating jobs, but on killing jobs. The coal industry is dying — or rather is being executed — as extreme air quality goals imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency force coal-fired generators to shut down, meaning consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years. The decreased demand for American coal shuts down mining and related companies, putting more people on the unemployment line.

His policies have produced high unemployment in Brevard County, Fla., the home of the Kennedy Space Center, which peaked in double digits, but now is about 9 percent. That is somewhat lower than it otherwise would be because space industry workers had to leave the county to try to find work after the president scrapped the second manned moon mission in 2010.

In the grand scheme of things the jobs lost in the space and coal industries and in supporting businesses may be only a fraction of the total. But Mr. Obama should be held to account for policies that deliberately kill jobs in a time of already high unemployment.

This callous disregard for American jobs is not among the characteristics that voters should expect to find in their president.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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