by Daniel Gardner
Last week Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal about President Obama and the Debt Crisis. Her ending comments summarized Obama's presidency to date: "Obama inherited financial collapse, deficits and debt. He inherited a broken political culture. These things weren't his fault. But through his decisions, he made them all worse."
What a letdown after campaigning on "hope and change." Americans were so very hungry for real hope and change in 2008 and voters gambled on a likeable, charismatic personality with little if any track record of real world experience. Obama was a former community organizer with high ideals and even higher aspirations, and voters were willing to give him the chance to make positive and significant differences in Washington.
Obama's campaign featured not only "hope and change," but also the usual utopian political promises progressives propound to persuade masses of disenchanted voters. Among the promises: fostering bi-partisanship, C-Span coverage of healthcare debates, lowering costs of healthcare, restoring our economy, keeping unemployment below 8-percent, closing Gitmo, ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and bringing our troops home among other promises.
The facts speak for themselves. In May the U.S. economy created 54,000 new jobs, the lowest number in eight months and dismal at best. Unemployment rose again to 9.1-percent, and new weekly applications for unemployment stayed well above the 400,000 mark. Six-point-two million Americans have been unemployed for more than six months. Housing, manufacturing, and consumer confidence are all down.
In a speech touting the comeback of GM and Chrysler, Obama characterized the dim economic figures as "a bump in the road." Got to love the automobile analogies! Especially when GM is sticking taxpayers with $14 Billion in defaults on their "loans" and an additional $12 - 13 Billion in future taxes. Taxpayers are being taken for a ride down a very bumpy road.
January 9, 2009, Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein released a report for the incoming administration titled, "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." The administration was demonstrating its laser focus on improving the economy.
President Obama touted the report as his plan to restore the economy with nearly $1 Trillion in stimulus (spending) to create "shovel-ready" jobs. Obama pointed to the infamous graph projecting unemployment would be held in check below 8-percent with the stimulus, but would rocket above 9-percent without the stimulus plan.
In January 2009, unemployment was 7.5-percent. Four months later unemployment had skyrocketed to 9.5-percent and well on its way above 10-percent. Another bump in the road? Today, we're still above 9-percent unemployment. Nobody talks about the stimulus any more except to say it added nearly $1 Trillion to our unimpeded growing national debt.
And, what about that 2010 Summer of Recovery promised by the White House? Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate we had a net loss of 283,000 jobs.
Is the U.S. economy getting better? For the first time Moody says it may lower the U.S. credit rating. Politics-as-usual has paralyzed Washington. Hope never rides far on empty promises.