On Friday, President Barack Obama hosted a press conference at the White House to discuss the economy. It wasn’t his finest moment. In his remarks, Obama told the media that all is well in the private-sector, rather it is the public-sector that is holding the economy back. Here’s the relevant quote:
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Often times cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
It’s hard to convince many people, particularly those that will be voting in the fall, that the private-sector economy is “doing fine.” People see the news reports about tepid job creation, still high unemployment numbers, and incredibly large budget deficit. They’re no doubt wondering what planet Obama has been living on over the last three-plus years.
The press conference really could be taken as an in-kind contribution to Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. They’ve pounced on the opportunity to slam the gaffe-tastic remarks. Playing right into their hands, Obama later issued a statement emphasizing that the economy is, in fact, not doing all that well:
No doubt all of us would take some good economic news right now, but that won’t come from the jobs report for June, which was released this morning showing the unemployment rate rising slightly to 9.2% and adding only 18,000 jobs:
U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in June, with employers hiring the fewest number of workers in nine months, dampening hopes the economy was on the cusp of regaining momentum after stumbling in recent months.
Nonfarm payrolls rose only 18,000, the weakest reading since September, the Labor Department said on Friday, well below economists’ expectations for a 90,000 rise.
Many economists raised their forecasts on Thursday after a stronger-than-expected reading on U.S. private hiring from payrolls processor ADP, and they expected gains of anywhere between 125,000 and 175,000.
The unemployment rate climbed to 9.2 percent, the highest since December, from 9.1 percent in May.
Numbers from the two previous months were revised down by 44,000 jobs; April dropped from 232,000 to 217,000 and May from 54,000 to 25,000. In case you’re wondering, the economy needs to create around 120,000 jobs each just to keep up with population growth.
Another bad sign is the U-6 rate, what many economists call the “real unemployment rate,” jumped from 15.8% to 16.2%.
Just like government intervention in the economy in the 1930s prolonged the Great Depression, intervention and uncertainty with President Barack Obama’s economic policies are slowing the pace of recovery today.
Despite all the talk about draconian spending cuts due to the sequester, President Barack Obama has, as part of his FY 2014 budget, asked Congress for $100 million to map the human brain, which is trying to sell as a job creation initiative:
President Obama today proposed $100 million in spending to map the human brain in hopes of unlocking “this enormous mystery” and curing diseases and traumatic injuries.
“As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can studies particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the 3 pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” the president said as he announced the new BRAIN Initiative in the East Room of the White House.
The president said the program, which he first proposed in his State of the Union address, could create jobs and potentially lead to cures for diseases such Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or autism.
“We can’t afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races ahead,” Obama warned. “We have to seize them. I don’t want the next job-creating discoveries to happen in China or India or Germany. I want them to happen right here, in the United States of America. And that’s part of what this BRAIN initiative’s about.”
Let’s make this clear right now — while researching diseases like those President Obama named is laudable, the United States is flat broke and taxpayers cannot continue to afford paying for it. We just don’t have the money. Also, there is another aspect of continuing to poor federal dollars in scientific research.
While it seems that President Barack Obama may have received a bump in support thanks to some firey speeches at the Democratic National Convention last week, the gains may be short-lived thanks to yet another dismal jobs report. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 96,000 jobs were created in August, though the unemployment rate did fall, that is thanks to some 368,000 people leaving the labor market.
President Obama and Democrats are trying to put the best spin they can on the report, oftening claiming that 4.5 million private-sector jobs have been created since January 2010, which is a dubious claim since the net gain is closer to 300,000 since he took office. But it’s hard to look at the numbers and deny just how poorly the economy is functioning in what is supposed to be a recovery. James Pethokoukis noted a key point, outside of the job creation numbers and unemployment rate, is average hourly earnings from the private-sector. As you can see, the numbers so a continuing downward trend, even three years after the recession ended:
Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a DC-based grassroots conservative group, has released a new ad knocking President Barack Obama for his recent comments declaring that the “private sector is doing fine.” The ad points out that Americans have seen an unemployment rate over 8% for 40 consecutive months with 12.7 million Americans currently unemployed and that the natonal debt has now exceeded $15 trillion.
Noting that Obama is out of touch with Americans, AFP asks, “How can [Obama] fix the economy if he doesn’t know what’s wrong?” At the end of the ad, AFP promotes their “Jobs Agenda,” policy proposals that would jump start the economy:
Remember that time when President Barack Obama said the “private-sector is doing fine”? Apparently, the private-sector hasn’t received that memo. According to new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers posted the fewest number of job openings in five months:
The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.4 million in April, down from 3.7 million in March. The March figure was the highest in nearly four years.
The decline could mean employers are growing more cautious about adding workers in the face of financial turmoil in Europe and slower growth in the United States. Job openings can take one to three months to fill.
There were 12.5 million unemployed people in April. That means there was an average of 3.7 people competing for each open job. In a healthy job market, the ratio is usually around 2 to 1.
Openings have risen by almost a third since the recession ended in June 2009. But they are still below pre-recession levels of about 5 million per month.
April’s decline in openings has coincided with a sharp slowdown in hiring. Employers added an average of only 73,000 jobs in April and May. That’s down from an average of 226,000 in the first three months of this year.
Not only is President Barack Obama dealing with his recent comments about the private-sector and slowing job growth, more bad news came down yesterday. Sadly, Reuters reported yesterday that the monthly budget deficit for May — $125 billion — was up from the previous year (emphasis mine):
The U.S. government posted a budget deficit of $125 billion in May, more than twice the level registered in the same month last year.
So far this fiscal year, the budget deficit stands at $844.5 billion, narrower than at the same time a year ago.
Under the government’s accounting system, October is the opening month of fiscal 2012. During fiscal 2011 which ended Sept. 30, the budget deficit totaled $1.296 trillion.
Remember that Obama said during his 2008 campaign against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that he would deliver a “net-spending cut” during his first term. Here we are now more than three years into his presidency and the national debt has increased by $5 trillion. When George W. Bush ran up spending by $4 trillion over eight years, then-Sen. Obama slammed his “unpatriotic” spending from the Senate floor.
There is not denying that Bush was a spend-thrift, which is why I shdder when Republicans say they “miss” him. However, Obama almost makes his predecessor look reasonable by comparison.
As has been pointed a couple of times this week, President Barack Obama has said that the “private-sector is fine” and that the real lag in jobs comes from the state and local governments. The comments are scary in that Obama does seem to grasp that the private-sector is where the real strength of our economy is and that regulations and mandates are causing lagging job growth. But what of the substance of his claim? Obama is wrong, according to Ed Carson at Investors Business Daily:
Private-sector jobs are still down by 4.6 million, or 4%, from January 2008, when overall employment peaked. Meanwhile government jobs are down just 407,000, or 1.8%. Federal employment actually is 225,000 jobs above its January 2008 level, an 11.4% increase. That’s right, up 11.4%.
Private payrolls have been trending higher in the last couple of years while government has been shedding staff. But that’s because governments did not cut jobs right away. Overall government employment didn’t peak until April 2009, 16 months after the recession started. It didn’t fall below their January 2008 level until September 2010.
The recession was boomtime for federal employment, especially after Obama took office. Federal jobs kept rising (excluding a temporary Census surge in early 2010) until March 2011 — more than three years after overall payrolls peaked.
It’s been a few days since President Barack Obama told White House press reporters that the private-sector is “doing fine” and claimed that the public-sector was the part of the economy that was really hurting. Mitt Romney and Republicans have been hammering away at the remarks, and justifibly so. Even Paul Krugman, who is often serves as an apologist for Obama, criticized the remark and Joe Biden’s former economic adviser “winced” when he heard it.
But we’re still very early in the campaign and, as I’ve noted before, voters have a short memory. Just because a candidate said or did something very stupid months before an election doesn’t mean that it will be remembered on election days — in fact, most elections boil down to what happens 60 days prior.
Over at Outside the Beltway, my good friend Doug Mataconis argues, noting opposing commentary from Chris Chris Cillizza and Mark Halperin, that it’s unlikely that Obama’s comments will have any lasting effect and complaining that the media spends too much time on the dumb things politicians say:
Even though the Obama Administration, congressional Democrats, and Keynesian economists claimed that spending would get the country moving again, critics of the 2009 stimulus bill argued that the it was wasteful and would result in a negative impact on the economy when it was all said and done. Who was right? Well, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that many of the criticisms of Obamanomics were well-founded:
The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday downgraded its estimate of the benefits of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, saying it may have sustained as few as 700,000 jobs at its peak last year and that over the long run it will actually be a net drag on the economy.
CBO said that while the Recovery Act boosted the economy in the short run, the extra debt that the stimulus piled up “crowds out” private investment and “will reduce output slightly in the long run — by between 0 and 0.2 percent after 2016.”
The analysis confirms what CBO predicted before the stimulus passed in February 2009, though the top-end decline of two-tenths of a percent is actually deeper than the agency predicted back then.
CBO has re-evaluated the stimulus every three months, and its estimates for the total cost have varied. Initially the package was pegged at $787 billion, rose as high as $862 billion at one point, and is now projected to be $825 billion once all the money is paid out.
The nonpartisan agency also has changed its model for the spending’s impact on the economy, and the new calculations show the Recovery Act did less than originally projected.