The recovery that began four years ago has been one of the weakest on record, averaging a little more than 2%. And it has not gained speed. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was 0.4%. It rose to a still anemic 1.8% in the first quarter but most economists are predicting even slower growth in the second quarter.
We hope the predictions of a faster growth in the second half will be right, but the Obama Treasury and Federal Reserve have been predicting for four years that takeoff was just around the corner. Stocks are doing great, and housing prices are rising, but job growth remains lackluster. What has never arrived is the 3%-4% growth spurt during typical expansions.
[…]What about the middle class that is the focus of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric? Each month the consultants at Sentier Research crunch the numbers from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and estimate the trend in median annual household income adjusted for inflation. In its May 2013 report, Sentier put the figure at $51,500, essentially unchanged from $51,671 a year earlier.
And that’s the good news. The bad news is that median real household income is $2,718, or 5%, lower than the $54,218 median in June 2009 when the recession officially ended. Median incomes typically fall during recessions. But the striking fact of the Obama economy is that median real household income has fallen even during the recovery.
While the declines have stabilized over the last two years, incomes are still far below the previous peak located by Sentier of $56,280 in January 2008. No wonder Mr. Obama is now turning once again to his familiar political narrative assailing inequality and blaming everyone else for it. He wants to change the subject from the results on his watch.
The core problem has been Mr. Obama’s focus on spreading the wealth rather than creating it. ObamaCare will soon hook more Americans on government subsidies, but its mandates and taxes have hurt job creation, especially at small businesses. Mr. Obama’s record tax increases have grabbed a bigger chunk of affluent incomes, but they created uncertainty for business throughout 2012 and have dampened growth so far this year.
The food stamp and disability rolls have exploded, which reduces inequality but also reduces the incentive to work and rise on the economic ladder. This has contributed to a plunge in the share of Americans who are working—the labor participation rate—to 63.5% in June from 65.7% in June 2009. And don’t forget the Fed’s extraordinary monetary policy, which has done well by the rich who have assets but left the thrifty middle class and retirees earning pennies on their savings.
Mr. Obama would have done far better by the poor, the middle class and the wealthy if he had focused on growing the economy first. The difference between the Obama 2% recovery and the Reagan-Clinton 3%-4% growth rates is rising incomes for nearly everybody.
In the 2006 mid-term elections, the Democrats took over the House and Senate. That was the beginning of the Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spending spree. Millions of dollars have been wasted on ineffective government programs, handouts and bailouts. We’ve had trillion dollar deficits for the last four years under Obama, and over 8 trillion added to the national debt since Pelosi/Reid 2007. All that deficit spend does have an effect on economic growth – businesses know that they are going to have to pay it off at some point, either through higher taxes or inflation or both.
From the Daily Caller, a story about what happens when you allow Democrats to dominate at every level of government for years and years and years.
The Golden State has reached a poverty rate that is now twice as bad as West Virginia’s and substantially worse than the rates of poverty in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, according to a new measure of poverty developed by the federal Census Bureau.
Democrat-run California earned its last-place rank under the federal government’s new measure of poverty, which incorporates more detailed analyses of welfare payments and the local costs of food, gasoline and housing. (View the new census data report)
The state’s costs are boosted by its environmental and workplace regulations, and by 38 million residents’ competition for housing close to the sea.
[…]Democratic California Gov. Gerry Brown’s office did not release a comment Nov. 15 about the new ranking, but did note that he would be attending a housing conference, the “Greenbuild International Conference and Expo,” in San Francisco Nov. 16.
[…]The report estimates that roughly 8.8 million people in California were poor during between 2009 and 2011, when Democrats controlled the state legislature and governorship, as well as the White House.
The stunning reversal in fortunes for the Democrat-dominated state — once a worldwide symbol of glitz and wealth — is underlined by previous census reports, which showed that only 11.1 percent of the state’s population was poor in 1969.
Only 13.7 percent of Americans were poor in 1969, and many of them were found in the agricultural states of the Old South. A third of Americans in Mississippi, and a quarter of Americans in Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Western Virginia, were poor.
Forty years later, after waves of federal and state regulations on housing, banking, health care and air quality, and amid increased financial aid for unmarried parents, youth, immigrants and unskilled people, the national poverty rate has climbed to 15.8 percent, according to the new Census Bureau measure.
The new measure supplants a poverty gauge developed in the 1960s. It incorporates the economic impact of welfare programs, transportation and child-care costs, changes in child-rearing practices — especially the impact of single parents raising kids — plus differences in the region’s average prices and health care costs.
The new ranking leaves California at the bottom, along with and close to the 23.2 percent poverty rate in the District of Columbia.
[…]The well-being of Californian children has also shriveled in recent decades, partly because of the state’s declining education sector, according to a July report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
California just voted to raise their state income tax. Because they do not understand economics. They do not ask how a policy impacts all people. They do not think beyond stage one. They do not learn from history and experience. Economics is just not what socialists *do*. The primary goal of the socialist is to demonize the other, to feel good about himself, and to project an image to others of being “nice” in order to be liked. When you elect narcissists like this, all you get is rhetoric, never results.
That rhetoric certainly seems to work on certain segments of the electorate – those who don’t follow current events and who don’t understand economics. The truth is that hard-headed capitalism, the rule of law, free trade and property rights, helps the poor more – by growing the economy so that the poor will have jobs. We need to learn as a nation that demonizing “the rich”, raising taxes and spending ourselves into enormous debt is not going to help the poor. Self-aggrandizing talk doesn’t help the poor.
Raising taxes on all those above $250,000 as Obama proposes would raise just $34 billion. That’s a whopping 3% of our $1.1 trillion deficit. Even if you seized all their income, it would only run the government for three months.
So the idea that taxing the wealthy will reduce the deficit is false. This is just class warfare, pure and simple.
Even so, Obama compounds the fib by going on to say his tax hike will have virtually no impact on small businesses. He notes, for example, that 97% of all small businesses would be untouched by his tax hike.
True, but irrelevant, as Treasury Department data show. For while there are 34.8 million small businesses in America, 30 million of those employ no workers.
Just 4.8 million, or 12%, employ workers. But an even smaller number — just 1.2 million — earn 91% of all the small business income. These are Obama’s “rich.”
But while they make up just 3% of all small businesses, they employ a stunning 54% of the total private U.S. workforce.
They are, in short, the nation’s job creators. And their owners, who report their small-business income on their personal income tax return, will be taxed at a higher rate by Obama.
So don’t be fooled. It’s not really the “wealthy,” as Obama says, who’ll get taxed. It’s small businesses. And it will have a devastating impact on jobs.
How devastating? A recent study by Ernst & Young noted that Obama’s tax hike, far from being “balanced,” would cost 700,000 people their jobs.
And it will no doubt kill hundreds of thousands if not millions more jobs in the future as would-be entrepreneurs decide not to start businesses in such a hostile tax and regulatory environment.
It’s important for us to realize that the people voting for Obama have no idea about these facts. A lot of people are annoyed that we lost the election last week. I think that if we want to win the next one then we have to start to think about becoming more persuasive with the people around us. We have to learn to deflate the slogans of those on the left with facts.
Romney brought up the Obama administrations lies about Benghazi as well as the Fast and Furious gun-running to Mexican drug cartels to seal the victory. Although the Democrat moderator lied about Obama calling Benghazi an act of terror, it wasn’t enough to save Obama from Mitt’s constant repetition of the horrible performance of the economy under the socialist Barack Obama.
Romney narrowly won, but it could have been better if he had pressed the attack on the security failures in Benghazi with more facts. He pulled his punches there, and he had no reason to.
CNN correspondent and second presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley disgraced herself tonight, repeatedly intervening to save a floundering President Obama and showing why many Americans were rightfully suspicious of her ability to moderate a presidential debate fairly.
Her most outrageous act tonight was her incorrect seconding of Obama’s statement that he declared the Libya terrorist attacks to be “terror.” While Obama did indeed use the word, this is not what he meant by it. Instead, he was simply referring to “acts of terror.” There was no mention of Al Qaeda or any of its affiliates with respect to the actual attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.
Here is the full Obama statement in reference to “terror” in Libya.
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
As I reported earlier, the topic of Operation Fast and Furious came up at tonight’s presidential debate in New York. During Mitt Romney’s remarks on the deadly subject, President Obama sat in the background where he smirked and at one point, laughed.
[The] debate moderator Candy Crowley quickly changed the subject away from Operation Fast and Furious and when she was done speaking, President Obama failed to address the issue. After the debate in the media spin room, the Obama campaign wasn’t interested in discussing the details either.
[…]Fast and Furious has damaged the relationship between Mexico and the United States, not to mention, it’s laughable to hear President Obama talk about gun control when his own Justice Department armed Mexican cartels with thousands of AK-47 style weapons.
“It’s a vital issue. The President promised to run one of the most transparent and open administration in history. That’s not the case in fact literally today the Justice Department filed suit trying to get out access to records thrown out of court. The President is so upside down on Fast and Furious. He’s never directly addressed the question. He was asked specifically by Univision and he said he would get to the bottom of it but nobody has been held accountable and they haven’t provided the documents to Congress,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, told Townhall. “I’m glad to see Mitt Romney mentioned it and actually talked about it in a proactive way as something that was wrong on every facet.”
Here are some of the other key points about tonight’s debate:
GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney tonight charged that President Barack Obama’s jobs plan is a failure, with millions out of work and looking for help.
“My plan is to put people back to work in America,” Romney said tonight at the first of three presidential debates scheduled for the 2012 presidential election season.
“Look at the history of the past four years. We have 23 million people unemployed. Keeping with the status quo is not going to work for the American people.”
Obama returned to his oft-repeated theme of blaming George W. Bush, asserting the taxation approach Romney was proposing was nothing more than a return to the “trickle-down” economy of the Republican plan.
Obama began the debate by reciting familiar campaign themes, suggesting once again that his administration inherited from Bush one of the worst economies in the history of the United States.
But Romney struck a theme of energy independence and advancing small business as keys to getting the U.S. economy growing again. He accused Obama of proposing “trickle-down government,” represented by more government regulation and more taxation.
Romney disputed Obama’s assertion he was locked into a tax cut, charging that under the Obama administration the middle class has been pressed by reduced income, diminished job opportunities and increased food and energy costs.
From the first moments of the debate, Romney looked Obama directly in the eye, took exception to president’s assertions about Romney’s policies, and gave more precise answers.
Obama pressed that Romney’s economic plan called for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in military budget increases, a program Obama asserted would demand tax increases on middle-income earners.
“Look, I’ve got five boys and I’m used to somebody saying something that’s not true and hoping that by repeating it I’m going to believe it,” Romney countered, asserting that everything Obama said about his tax program was inaccurate.
Obama insisted Romney’s tax-reduction plan of necessity would either increase the deficit or demand tax increases for the middle class, charging that under Romney’s definition Donald Trump would be a small business.
Objecting to Jim Lehrer’s interruption that the first segment was exceeding the 15-minute limit, Romney charged that Obama would increase taxes on small businesses at the cost of 700,000 jobs.
As the discussion advanced to the nation’s deficit, Obama reiterated his statement that he inherited a massive deficit, and appeared on the defensive.
“You have been president for four years, you said you would cut the deficit in half and you have run $1 trillion in deficits each of the four years,” Romney attacked. “That does not get the job done.”
Romney pointed out that when the economy was growing as slowly as it is now, more slowly than when Obama took office, this is no time to increase taxes.
“You never balance the budget by increasing taxes,” Romney insisted. “I don’t want to go down the path of Spain.”
Romney said “ignoring the 10th Amendment is not the way to have a vibrant economy.”
Romney said the key to education is great teachers, and he raised a reference to the U.S. Constitution regarding citizen rights.
“I interpret our founding documents as providing a responsibility for religious freedom – to pursue happiness by taking care of the less fortunate – but massive government involvement limits freedom – the path we are taking is not working with 23 million Americans unemployed and 50 million on food stamps.”
Obama said the responsibility of the federal government was important in improving the educational system in America.
“Budgets reflect choices. If we cut taxes to benefit people like Gov. Romney and me, it makes a difference,” Obama. He again demanded specifics of the GOP plans.
“When it comes to making college affordable, whether it be two years or four years, we cut out the middleman and eliminated banks from making a profit in student loans. Gov. Romney believes in education but he tells kids to borrow from their parents to go to college.”
Romney responded, “Mr. President, you are entitled to your own airplane and your own house – but not to your own facts.”
Romney said Obama put $90 billion into green jobs, but half of the recipients went bankrupt and others were owned by contributors to your campaign, and questioned the number of teachers that would have hired.
Romney proposed grading schools to know which were succeeding and which were failing.
“Massachusetts schools are ranked No. 1 in education because I care for education for all our children,” Romney said.
Look: you know how much I love the guy, and you know how much of a high information viewer I am, and I can see the logic of some of Obama’s meandering, weak, professorial arguments. But this was a disaster for the president for the key people he needs to reach, and his effete, wonkish lectures may have jolted a lot of independents into giving Romney a second look…
The person with authority on that stage was Romney – offered it by one of the lamest moderators ever, and seized with relish. This was Romney the salesman. And my gut tells me he sold a few voters on a change tonight. It’s beyond depressing. But it’s true.
Call it the curse of incumbency. Like many of his predecessors, President Obama fell victim Wednesday night to high expectations, a short fuse, and a hungry challenger.
If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t win the first of three presidential debates outright, he more than covered the spread. He was personable, funny, and relentlessly on the attack against a heavily favored Obama.
The president looked peeved and flat as he carried a conversation, for the first time in four years, with somebody telling him he’s wrong.
This debate was a blowout – and that’s just the reaction of the left.
Left-wing reactions on Twitter
Bill Maher: (HBO)
Peter Beinart (The New Republic)
Piers Morgan: (CNN)
And CHRIS MATTHEWS too:
Something else ran down his leg tonight, and it wasn’t a tingle, it was a tinkle.
Romney leading by 4 points in swing states
The latest poll of swings states from the left-wing Politico shows Romney leading Obama by 4 points, even with a 2 point oversampling of Democrats.
This week, Politico released its latest Battleground pollof the presidential race. Despite coming from the left-wing news site, the poll is one of my favorites. Its put together by respected pollsters from both parties, makes available its full cross-tabs and uses a very modest and reasonable turnout model for its sample. Including leaners, the sample in the poll is D+2. Nationally, Obama leads by 2-3 points, but, in the critical swing states, Romney now has the edge.
Each candidate leads in states considered “safe” for their party. In safe GOP states, Romney leads by 8. In safe Democrat states, Obama leads by a massive 22 points. But, in the more numerous and more important “toss up” states, Romney leads by 4, hitting the critical 50% threshold.
In the slightly different category of “battleground” states identified by Politico, Romney leads by 2, 49-47. Romney’s lead over Obama is powered primarily by his edge with independents. Romney leads Obama by 4 among the important swing voters. By 11 points, these voters think Romney would do better on the economy than Obama, 51-40.
Romney also has a big edge with middle class families, who prefer him over Obama by 15 points, 56-41.
My prediction for this election remains Romney 52, Obama 47.