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

Polititainment

Jenner comes out as trans, Republican
Former Olympian and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star Bruce Jenner finally revealed that he identifies as a woman in his Friday night “20/20″ interview with Diane Sawyer, but it was a different announcement that had viewers freaking out. Sawyer asked if Jenner cheered when President Obama became the first president to even say the […]
Waka Flocka Flame endorses Hillary

Just days after announcing his own candidacy for president in 2016, Waka Flocka Flame is endorsing Hillary Clinton for the White House. The Atlanta rapper said during a recent interview with MTV News that he will vote for Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Obama honors New England Patriots

President Obama honored the Super Bowl Champion football team on the South Lawn, kicking off his remarks with a joke about the team's long since past "Deflate Gate" controversy.

Olivia Wilde endorses Hillary Clinton

Actress Olivia Wilde is "excited" by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The film star, who campaigned for then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, expressed her enthusiasm for the "political discussions" that result from election season during a recent interview with The Daily Beast.

Robert Downey Jr. walks out of interview

Robert Downey Jr. cut short a recent interview with British Channel 4 News reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy when the journalist questioned the actor about a past statement regarding how being imprisoned impacted his political beliefs.

2016

Sen. Cornyn worried about Clinton transparency

On Jan. 20, 2009, the U.S. Senate was poised to nominate then-Senator Clinton as secretary of State by a unanimous consent vote, but Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Tex.) objected, temporarily thwarting Clinton’s nomination.

Jeb Bush is on the Paleo diet

Jeb Bush is slimming down ahead of his likely 2016 bid for the White House. The former governor of Florida has lost about 30 pounds on the Paleo diet since December, according to a report in The New York Times.

NYT reporter: Hillary calls everything 'off-limits'

New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday that Hillary Clinton ahead of her run for president in 2016 is dismissing every critical report about her as illegitimate and "off-limits."

Seth Meyers defends Hillary Clinton

Seth Meyers defended Hillary Clinton during Thursday's episode of "Late Night," dismissing allegations about the former secretary of State that will be laid out by the forthcoming anti-Clinton book "Clinton Cash."

Rick Perry disagrees with Christie on pot

Rick Perry is against legalizing marijuana--but, unlike Chris Christie, wouldn't "crack down" on states that choose to legalize.

Policy

Obamacare brings growth in food stamp enrollment
CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama’s health care law has had a surprising side effect: In some states, it appears to be enticing more Americans to apply for food stamps, even as the economy improves. New, streamlined application systems built for the health care overhaul are making it easier for people to enroll in government benefit […]
DC gets mad at Gowdy and Buck over gun photo

Reps Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) just dodged a run-in with the D.C. authorities.

The danger of policing through Facebook

These days, everything happens on social media--including solving crime.

Police seized 11-yr-old for defending legal pot

One Kansas school apparently found a child's earnest defense of marijuana legalization so threatening they called the police on his mother.

Support for Obamacare hits surprising high
Support for Obamacare has hit a two-year high, despite the tax season surprises that followed the law this year. According to a new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released Tuesday, the percentage of people who say they support the healthcare law is greater than those who oppose it for the first time since the fall of 2012. […]