No, We’re Not Better Off

Just in time for the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign is claiming that, why, yes we are better off now than we were four years ago, thank you very much.

For starters, they’re touting Vice President Joe Biden’s bumper sticker slogan “Osama bin Laden is dead, and GM is alive.”

Actually, bin Laden and top al Qaeda members killed in President Obama’s wanton drone attacks should arguably be alive and getting waterboarded in Gitmo for all the intelligence we can wring out of them. General Motors should have gone through bankruptcy proceedings, and if it couldn’t shake off its bloated union benefits packages and improve its efficiency, died.

But Democrats are crowing about the general economic picture. They seem to be claiming that, even if job growth and GDP aren’t picking up quite as much as we would like, at least they’re better now than they were near the start of the recession.

No, they’re not. They’re not even as good as they were when Obama took office.

Consider the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s set of post-WWII recession and recovery employment and GDP data.

These data show that the percent change in U.S. employment in July 2008—four years prior to the most currently available data—was one percent. In July 2012 it was three percent.

Using as a baseline the first month of Obama’s presidency, percent change in employment was still slightly better in January 2009 than it is now.

When Obama brags that he added 4.5 million jobs to the economy, the proper response should be, “Yes—if you count only the jobs added since January 2010 and not the ones lost in the prior 12 months. There are still 400,000 fewer people working today than there were in January 2009.”

A better way to analyze the data is to ask whether we’re better off now than we were at the equivalent point in time following other recessions.

The answer is no, we’re not.

July 2012 marked 55 months since the start of the December 2007 recession. The monthly percent change in employment for all other 10 postwar recessions at 55 months out ranged from one percent to 12 percent, with an average of seven percent. Again, in July 2012 monthly change in employment was – three percent.

In other words, every single other post-war recession saw an actual recovery that culminated in a positive monthly change in employment by four-and-half years out—and usually much sooner—not a fake recovery that left the economy below where it was at the start of the recession. The Obama recovery stands historically alone in its decrepitude.

Since Obama’s presidency started 13 months into the 2007 recession, let’s look at percent change in employment 55 months after each recession’s start minus change in employment 13 months into the recession. Has the economy improved as much in the 42 months of Obama’s presidency as it did during the equivalent 42-months for other recessions?

No, it hasn’t.

The difference in monthly employment from 13 to 55 months after the start of the other 10 recessions ranged from three percent to 16 percent, with an average of nine percent. Under Obama, the difference from 13 to 55 months was less than zero percent. Obama actually drove down monthly employment since taking office.

How about quarterly percent change in GDP? We’re 18 quarters out from December 2007. Is GDP on par with where it was 18 quarters out from other recessions?

No, it isn’t.

Percent change in GDP for the other 10 postwar recessions ranged from nine percent to 27 percent, with an average of 16 percent. Percent change in GDP is currently at two percent.

Poverty is up. Food stamps use is at a record high. Unemployment is stuck where it was it was in January 2009, and median income is down. Inflation is up since 2009, and gas prices have doubled since Obama took office.

By what respectable metric can Obama possibly claim that we’re better off now than we were four years ago? An increase in our social networking prowess? (Oops. Bad example.)

The only sense in which we’re better off now than we were in 2008 is that we may have only four more months instead of four more years to endure from this miserable president.

Comments

Nancy Grace battles Dr. Drew on pot

Oh, Nancy. Just weeks after gracing the internet with her marijuana debate with 2 Chainz, she's served up another delightful bit of TV: her appalled reaction to discovering that fellow HLN star Dr. Drew is on the 2 Chainz side of this argument.

Stewart: 'Drones love Obama'
Jon Stewart couldn’t stop laughing about the drone found at the White House early Monday morning. A small drone crashed on the White House lawn around 3 a.m. and after several hours in lockdown, Secret Service determined that it did not pose a threat. “Of course it didn’t pose a threat. Drones love Obama. He’s like a one […]
Jonathan Gruber raps to MIT students

If you’ve been dying to see Jonathan Gruber, who credited the “stupidity of the American voter” with passing Obamacare, strip down to his undershirt and rap about economics, today is your lucky day!

Stewart mocks the Iowa Freedom Summit

Jon Stewart’s coverage of the Iowa Freedom Summit is about what you would expect—starting with his description the event: “A lot of Republicans who will never be president met this weekend,” for the “Fox News correspondent auditions.”

McCain takes on 'Sniper' bashers

Sen. John McCain is the latest person in a position of prominence to defend "American Sniper" from bashers, singling out the "obsessive critics of U.S. foreign policy" in an official statement.

White House

White House: Scrapped 529 plan will still be in budget because it has already been sent to the printers
That awkward moment when even the President of the United States can’t get a print shop to make a small change for him… Just one day after the White House announced that it had caved to political pressure and would not be taxing the 529 college savings plan,  officials also had to admit that this […]
VP Biden appears on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ to get ask young people to sign up for Obamacare
With three weeks to go until the Obamacare deadline to purchase insurance, the Obama administration is pulling out all the stops to encourage young people to sign up.  The renewed push included a stop by Vice President Joe Biden on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Monday so he could appeal to moms who are good at […]
Small drone crashes at White House complex, origin unclear
WASHINGTON (AP) — A small drone flying at low altitude crashed into the White House complex before dawn Monday, the Secret Service said. President Barack Obama was not at home and the White House said it did not pose a security threat. The crash prompted an immediate lockdown of the White House grounds until officials […]
WH chief of staff blurts out previously-concealed name of American hostage on live TV

All in a day's work at the White House: sometimes you keep ISIS hostage names a secret, sometimes you let them slip in an in interview on national TV.

7 Times Obama was ‘Partisan,’ Not ‘Practical’ during his State of the Union address
Near the beginning of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama promised to be “practical, not partisan” in his proposals to Congress. However, his speech ended up being anything but. From cracking jokes to outright veto threats, it was clear that the president had no interest in bipartisanship. So we decided to […]

Congress

Cruz bill would punish IRS targeting with jailtime

Ted Cruz wants IRS employees guilty of targeting to be the ones forking over their money, this time -- and that's at the very least.

CNN interviews Rand Paul on Snapchat

CNN made digital history this week, conducting the first-ever full interview with a lawmaker over Snapchat by snapping with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Boehner and McConnell critique SOTU

“Dead. Real dead.” That was House Speaker John Boehner’s verdict on President Obama’s tax proposals--and nearly every proposal from his State of the Union address, with the exception of cybersecurity, fighting ISIS, trade, and possibly the childcare tax credit.

Senate surpasses its 2014 vote total in a week
Is this what the Senate looks like without Harry Reid in charge? The new Republican-led Senate has already voted on more amendments in just one week than the Democratic-controlled Senate voted on in all of 2014. “We’ve actually reached a milestone here that I think is noteworthy for the Senate. We just cast our 15th roll-call vote […]
Whistleblowers denounce DOJ juvenile program

According to whistleblower reports, a Justice Department (DOJ) juvenile delinquency program provided grants to states jailing foster children and runaways over minor offenses like skipping school.