Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been Better Off?
posted at 6:03 pm on September 5, 2012 by Dafydd ab Hugh
At last! The reanointment campaign of President Barack “You didn’t build that” Obama is finally ready to detail exactly what way Americans are better off now than they were four years ago. In a New York Times piece, they finally get down to the nitty gritty of economic, cultural, and national-security improvement since January 20th, 2009.
Here’s the lede:
A day after fumbling a predictable and straightforward question posed by Mitt Romney last week — are Americans better off than they were four years ago — the Obama campaign provided a response on Monday that it said would be hammered home during the Democratic convention here this week: “Absolutely.”
That answer, “absolutely,” comes from Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign mangler, at the Democratic National Convention on Monday:
In fact, on Monday the campaign settled on a definitive answer of, as the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter put it, “Absolutely.”
There it is, in black and white (or whatever colors you’ve chosen for your font and background): Stephanie Cutter has categorically, unequivocally, hysterically answered that “better-off” question for all time: Ab-so-lootely we’re better off now than when Obama assumed the position. Absolutely!
Who could argue with that?
Let’s not be unfair; Cutter did go on to give detailed and specific reasons why we’re better off:
Followed down a hallway by a local news crew asking the “better off” question in the convention center here, Ms. Cutter described the economic scene four years ago — the auto companies teetering near bankruptcy, bank failures — and said, “Does anyone want to go back to 2008? I don’t think so.”
I’m not so sure: Perhaps those voters who lost their jobs under the Obama administration long for 2008, which they might see as the golden age of employment.
Today’s real unemployment/underemployment rate — what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the U6 labor underutilitzation rate — includes those unemployed and actively looking for a job, those unemployed who would like to work but have given up in despair, and those who are working part time but want to work full time.
That U6 unemployment number is significantly higher now than it was when Obama seized the reins of power.
Back then, on January 20th, 2009, the U6 rate was 14.2%. It had been rising in the waning days of the Bush administration; and it continued rising throughout Obama’s first year, hitting a peak of 17.1% in December, 2009.
That big run-up of 2.9% represented nearly 4.5 million more people unemployed or underemployed than when Obama was inaugurated.
The U6 rate stayed more or less around that point for another year, then finally began to drift downward a little in December, 2010. It wafted back towards the “inauguration rate” over the next year, hitting 14.5% in March, 2012; but then the U6 unemployment number took off again. Today it hovers at 15.0%… still noticibly higher than it was when Obama was sworn at by the Chief Justice. The 0.8% rise in the U6 rate from 2009 corresponds to 1.24 million more Americans out of work or underemployed than when Obama’s term began.
At no point has total unemployment/underemployment dropped back down to Obama’s inauguration rate; on employment, the president is still underwater. Those hoping for employment are certainly no better off today than they were four years ago… and I doubt the extra one and a quarter million unemployed/underemployed Americans are mollified by the fact that Barack Obama seized General Motors and gave huge bailouts to his Big Banking cronies.
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland echoed Cutter’s claim anent Obama’s stellar record on job creation, though he offered a slightly more cautious version:
Mr. O’Malley provided another answer on Monday on CNN: “We are clearly better off as a country because we’re creating jobs rather than losing them. We have not recovered all that we lost in the Bush recession. That’s why we need to continue to move forward.”
But they’ve also “not recovered” all the extra jobs lost in the Obama recession; they’re still short, as we noted, by 1.24 million jobs since inauguration.
Forward! Progress! Ab-so-lootley!
Let’s press on, guvnor. Surely there must be some objective measurement to back up Stephanie’s cutting ejaculation of “Absolutely!”
Oh, here we go; Slow Joe Biden issues an unanswerable proof:
Speaking in Detroit on Monday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said during a union rally, “You want to know whether we’re better off?” He answered: “I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”
Well, yes; it’s true: Osama bin Laden is dead. On the other hand, his organization, al-Qaeda, and its kissing cousins in the Taliban, are significantly more powerful today than they were at the end of Bush’s term. So there is that.
Throughout all of 2008, 151 Americans were killed in Afghanistan by enemy action, according to the notoriously right-wing news source, the Hufflepuffington Post. But last year, that number had exploded to 398, down from 492 in 2010. Seems like quite a lot more Taliban/al-Qaeda activity, especially for a war whose expiry date has already been announced.
And of course, radical Islamism in general (Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, et al) has been on the march for the last couple of years. It’s true that one extremely bloody mass murderer was finally taken down — by U.S. Navy SEALs, by the way; not by Barack Obama personally, no matter what he may fantasize. But as George W. Bush warned during his presidency, bin Laden, or even al Qaeda, is not the entirety of radical Islamism; in fact, Iran is the most dangerous radical-Islamist power, and it has been since the 1979 revolution.
President B.O. has done virtually nothing to check the overarching threat of jihadism and its related components, from nuclear weapons; to massacres of Jews, Christians, and Animists; to subversion of democracies or emerging democracies; to cross-border warfare; to “lawfare” and other elements of dawa, supporting sharia law by means short of violent assault. In fact, Obama reserves his strongest condemnations not for radical Islamists, but for Israel, the lone fully democratic nation in the Middle East.
With the uninhibited rise of radical Islamism across the world and even here in the United States on Barack Obama’s watch (the Fort Hood massacre, for example), we are not better off on terrorism than we were four years ago… even with the death of an old man hiding in Pakistan.
Joe Biden’s second point is technically true: General Motors is, in some sense, still “alive” (though I don’t quite see how the attribute of “life” comports with the general Democratic Progressivist rejection of corporations as “persons” under the law). However, all those former stockholders of GM — millions of Americans (including a great many retireees) in their 401K plans and pension funds — might not feel better off… as their holdings were looted by Obama to give his Big Labor pals a stock jackpot. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Maybe the Democrats are happy to stand on bailouts for bankers, “Government Motors,” and claiming credit for the heroic deeds of America’s Special Forces; but it does seem just a little squirrelly to me.
Their next point… oh. Oh dear; I’m afraid we have managed to plod all the way through the triumphalist New York Times article. There is nothing else in the article.
Yet isn’t it peculiar that in this entire litany of reasons in the New York Times why we’re better off today than we were four years ago, not a single Democrat points to ObamaCare or the trillion-dollar “stimulus?” It’s as if the two signal achievements of the Obama administration have faded, like the Cheshire Cat, leaving only their deficits behind.
NB: In the photograph accompanying the Times article, we see two people sporting “I ♥ ObamaCare” bumper stickers; alas, those two “people” are in fact cardboard cutouts — with no faces. I don’t think they’re any better off either than they were fours years ago, when they might have been living spruce trees. (I also find it amusing that Obama himself now accepts the derisive term “ObamaCare” for his MIA government medicine program, which used to be called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Heh.)
We began this inquiry with the Reagan/Romney Riddle: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” I reckon we’ll just have to watch the
debacle spectacle unfold to see what evidence they can cite, besides that already (?) introduced, to justify Cutter’s Comprehensive Confirmation: “Absolutely!”
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…