Like a broken record, Obama claims to need four more years to fix the economy because he inherited from George W. Bush the worst economy since the Great Depression. He tells us when he took office he found it was worse than he thought, but that rings hollow. After all, if he thought it was the worst since the Great Depression, how much worse could it have been? Regardless, we need to revisit the claim that this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. Is it really? I think Ronald Reagan would argue differently were he with us today.
According to historical data of the Federal Reserve Bank, when Obama took office, the Fed’s prime interest rate was only 3.25%. By contrast, just one month before Reagan took office from President Jimmy Carter, the prime rate hit an all-time high of 21.5%, dropping to “only” 20.5% the day he took office. The inflation rate Obama inherited was zero, whereas Reagan inherited an inflation rate of 13.5%. The economy under Jimmy Carter was so bad that a new term, “Misery Index”, was created (an economic measure derived by adding the inflation rate to the unemployment rate). The price of gold, a bellwether reflecting economic stability, hit an all-time high in the last year of Carter’s presidency, reaching $2328/ounce in 2011-inflation adjusted dollars. We could go on and on, but the point is that Ronald Reagan would have gladly traded the economy he inherited for the one Obama inherited. Granted, the economy Obama inherited was bad, but not the worst, and he asked us for it.
Eleven years ago, America was attacked by bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists who hijacked commercial jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and failed in a fourth attack on the Capitol Building or the White House. Three thousand Americans died that day in the most horrific and hateful attack on American soil in history, an attack injuring not only the American economy, but the American psyche. We felt vulnerable and afraid. However, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge the attacks of 9/11 as only the second most destructive event during that span and, in terms of long term damage to the stability of the United States, paling in comparison to the damage inflicted upon us by the Obama administration.
Now, I am well aware this will be considered a hyper-partisan attack on our president, but I believe the facts will justify the claim. The terrorist attacks were brutal to watch, and we could witness the devastation and destruction wrought with our own eyes. The terrorists desired to crush our economy and undermine our faith in our government, to weaken us. You might even say that they wanted to “fundamentally transform” America. Yet within two years America was well on her way to recovering from those events.
It was understandable that the economy was severely damaged that day. As noted in Kiplinger Financial, on the day of the attacks, the unemployment rate was just below 5%, and in the aftermath, with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the travel, tourism, and financial industries alone, it would rise to just over 6% in 2003. However, by 2007, the unemployment rate was back down to just over 4%, and America had come roaring back.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dropped a bomb this morning. Yesterday, there were some positive signals that job growth was increasing compared to recent months. The ADP estimate for August came in at 201,000, which was much higher than the 140,000 estimate.
But the official job report for August was nowhere near expectations. According to the BLS, the economy created 96,000 jobs in August with estimates for June and July being revised downward:
U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, a weak figure that could slow any momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech to the Democratic National Convention.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, but only because more people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
The Labor Department also says 41,000 fewer jobs were created in July and June than first estimated. The economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since the beginning of the year, below 2011’s average of 153,000.
That’s not good at all, folks. Remember that the economy needs to create 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth. So while the spin will be that this is positive, but the economy is still experiencing essentially a net-zero job growth and more people are giving up hope of finding work. Futhermore, James Pethokoukis notes that “[i]f labor force rate had just stayed same as last month, [the]unemployment rate would be 8.4%.”
Over the last couple of years, libertarians have complained about the emphasis conservatives, particularly the Rick Santorums and Mike Huckabees their movement, have placed on social issues. We’ve noted that conservatives should focus their message on issues where they can attract agreement — such as repealing ObamaCare, lessening regulation on businesses, cutting spending, and reducing taxes.
While I support same-sex marriage and have grown increasingly pro-choice within reason, the Republican National Convention was a largely a breath of fresh air from this perspective . That’s not to say that I agree with everything said on the budget, economy or foreign policy, but the discussion of social issues was relatively mild with Republicans choosing instead to place a heavy focus on the economic record of President Barack Obama.
But watching the Democratic National Convention off-and-on for a couple of days, one can’t help but notice the heavy emphasis on social issues. There is certainly a discussion and defense of President Obama’s economic record, but abortion, same-sex marriage, and labor unions been featured heavily.
Of course, this is really isn’t surprising. Democrats have tried to change the narrative at several points since the beginning of the year; usually by complaining that there is some supposed “war” being waged against a segment of the American public.
Written by Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rumor has it that Democrats will include, at their up-coming convention, a proposal to increase the minimum wage. As documented in a recent Cato study, such a policy is likely to increase unemployment, especially as I noted elsewhere among teenagers. One would think that given how a weak economy is undermining Democrats’ chance to keep the White House, they’d actually make proposals to reduce, rather than increase unemployment.
Note: This is part two of a three-part series that will cover reasons that a voter may choose to support a specific presidential candidate. Part 3 for Gary Johnson will be online tomorrow. Part 1 for Mitt Romney is available here.
I never thought I’d be writing a post of reasons why someone should vote for Barack Obama, but I’ve given it some thought and have found that even though Obama has zero chance of getting my vote in November, there are some reasons voting for him might make sense. He won’t get my vote, but maybe he’s the guy for you. Here are some reasons you might want to vote for him.
You believe a Democrat victory is all that matters.
If you think Democrats are generally “for the people” and that Republicans are generally “against the people,” you’re wrong. (They’re both usually against the people.) But if you think that the Democrats are the good guys, you don’t have much of a decision to make. Vote Obama, and hope for the best.
You want division between the executive and legislative branches of government.
If the latter years of the Bush presidency proved anything, it’s that leaving one party in charge of the House, Senate, and White House is a recipe for runaway government. The GOP is going to keep the House in November and is expected to gain good ground in the Senate. If Obama is pushing for big government, Republicans will oppose it; but if Romney is pushing big government, Republicans will (for the most part) be cheering him all the way. Dividing government is a sure way to stall the erosion of freedom.
You and Obama are the same color.
“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” ~ Thomas Jefferson
Each day we see proofs of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in the creation of a federalist form of government which gave superior authority to a central government within a very limited sphere, and left all other functions to the states, or the people. Far from being the limited government which our Founders envisioned, the federal government today is a monstrous leviathan which is equal parts incompetence and avarice. This is what happens when government attains more power. Government is the only entity legally able to use force to achieve its goals. Government is a monopoly, and therefore does not have to be efficient or innovative on order to retain its “customers.” It is essentially immune from the disastrous consequences of its decisions and actions. It can compel continued allegiance and higher payments.
A timely example of the results of government expansionism is in the continued stagnancy of our economy. In the last days of the Bush presidency, and expanded throughout the Obama presidency, the federal government took steps which would supposedly save the economy from a financial collapse (which itself was the result of government interference in the market). With the passage of the “stimulus” bill, unemployment was not supposed to reach 8% according to the Obama administration, yet it did that and more. Unemployment spiked above 10% AFTER the near-trillion dollar stimulus was passed, and stayed at or above 9% for almost three years, before dropping to above 8%, a point we were not supposed to have reached at all.
In politics and in business, a consistent message is usually seen as a sign of strength. With the slow trickle of a consistent message, your brand is defined almost imperceptibly by the consumer until your message and brand are linked subconsciously.
When is this a bad idea? When there is inconsistency between your actual product and the “message” you are consistently promoting. You might get away with it for a while, but in time it creates cognitive dissonance in the consumer - they just know something isn’t right.
Case in point — the Obama administration and the jobs reports. Have those monthly talking points become a little, uh, stale? Sounding familiar? Were you expecting hope and change? Below are excerpts from jobs reports from November 2009 to present:
June 2012: “Therefore, 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.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/07/06/employment-situation-june)
May 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.” (LINK: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/06/01/employment-situation-may)
It is human nature to seek those things which are most rare and beautiful, and therefore the most prized. In the physical world, few things elicit visions of such stark elegance and grandeur than Carrara marble. Marble is highly sought after and desired in our most beautiful edifices. Expensive and often difficult to work with, its very temperamental nature makes it all the more desirable, the elemental equivalent of a beautiful, tempestuous woman that will not be tamed.
Marble comes in a myriad of types and colors, but Carrara marble, known for its pure, milky white character, is prized above all other marble by the world’s greatest sculptors. Centuries ago, in the “Golden Age” of Tuscan sculpture, it was considered the highest honor for a sculptor to be commissioned by a wealthy benefactor to create a statue from a block of Carrara marble.
It was also an endeavor that came with great pressure for the sculptor. Before the chisel was ever applied to the marble, the sculptor must first study the block in exquisite detail, memorizing its characteristics, noting the direction of the grain and any tiny flaws in the stone. He had to map out every strike with precision, completing the sculpture in his head before ever touching the stone. It was critical that he understand the flow of the marble’s grain. If not, a single strike with hammer and chisel against the grain could crack it. To strike with excessive force could cause the crystalline structure of the stone to be crushed, which in turn led to sub-surface holes that could ruin the entire piece.
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.