Politics

Obama Talks Economic Fantasy to Save Hillary

Can the master campaigner convince voters that Clinton is key to continuing his agenda?

President Barack Obama is one of the most talented politicians of our era, while Hillary Clinton is one of the least talented ever to win the nomination of a major party for president. With the Democratic nominee for President of the United States having collapsed into vans and stumbling in the polls, master campaigner Obama is attempting to ride to her rescue.

A recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Obama is almost there.

And no doubt he should. In contrast to Clinton, Obama has a way of turning compost into gold. How else could he have raised himself to an approval rating above 50 percent while two thirds of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

According to an August Gallup poll, 72 percent of Americans are “dissatisfied with the way things are going.” By a small margin, however, Americans approve of Obama’s handling of the economy, despite the dismal facts. It is a testament to his political skill. He sells the economy in way Hillary could not.

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The president arrived in Philadelphia Tuesday to campaign for Clinton, seizing on a stray number and trumpeting it as if the country had  been brought back the Roaring Twenties.

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“Republicans don’t like to hear good news right now but it’s important to understand this is a big deal,” Obama instructed, referring to a new report that finally, finally, incomes are on the rise.

Looks like we’re turning the corner again! Democrats have announced that we’re turning corners so many times, it almost makes you dizzy. Dizzy enough to, say, have to leave a 9/11 memorial ceremony early.

The Census Bureau report Obama was pointing to found that median household income in 2015 rose by 5.2 percent. What Obama left out is that it’s the first time during his presidency that household income rose year-to-year. And incomes remain below the level they were at in 2007, before the recession. That is, Obama still hasn’t fixed things.

Happy days are emphatically not here again, and won’t be coming anytime soon.

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After nearly eight years of Obama, the economy currently is just a point away from recession. It grew by just 1.1 percent during the second quarter of this year, according to the Department of Commerce. In the first quarter, the economy expanded — if that’s the word for it — by only 0.8 percent.

A recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Obama is almost there. In fact, economic growth on this president’s watch, at a mere 1.6 per year, was never lower under any postwar president.

In August, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office delivered the grim news of Obama’s legacy. It predicted that for the next decade, growth will be about 2.0 percent per year, well below the postwar average of 3.2 percent. Meantime, the debt, which has nearly doubled under Obama’s watch, will continue to grow, with no apparent means of paying it down without a serious economic expansion. Growth for 2016 is also expected to end up at about 2 percent.

The Federal Reserve knows this, and is afraid to hamper the fragile economy in any way. Despite interest rates that have been at historic lows for years, reports emerged this week that the Fed will almost certainly leave rates unchanged at its next meeting Sept. 20-21.

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While it is true the number of people with jobs under Obama has grown, finally returning in 2014 to its 2008 pre-recession peak, citing that statistic could mislead the American people. Over the same time period, the U.S. working-age population has outstripped job growth, while millions of Americans have given up even trying to get a decent job. The labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since the 1970s, while food stamp use is still at historic highs.

And remember, this is the result after the president was given an economy goosed with massive stimulus and other debt-financed spending, after he sold to Congress and the American people that his plan to solve what he’d ‘inherited’ would work. The money has been spent, interest rates remain near zero percent, and what is there to show for it?

Trade deals, like NAFTA, putting China in the WTO, and a slew of agreements with Central America, Chile, Australia, Jordan, and South Korea — and soon, Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership — were supposed to put the wind at the economy’s back. But the nation remains mired in slow growth.

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But there was the self-promoter-in-chief Tuesday, taking credit even for low gas prices,

“Gas is two dollars!” yelled someone in the crowd.

“Thank you for reminding me,” Obama said. And then he patted himself on the back. “Thanks, Obama,” he said. “So the steps that we have been taking over these years, they’re paying off.”

Obama, of course, has nothing to do with the price at the pump. Oil prices have declined because of world supply and private sector ingenuity that created the fracking industry, which Obama has sought to heavily regulate.

In June, a judge struck down the Obama administration’s overreaching fracking rule, saying it had been imposed without statutory authority.

Obama is wrong. Republicans do like to hear good news. And if he can’t spin enough illusions to dig Hillary out of the political hole she is excavating for herself, they’ll be getting good news on November 8.

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