Are You Better Off Than You Were 7 Years Ago?

IBD Editorial,

Economy: While patting himself on the back in his speech at the Democratic Convention, President Obama said that “by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started.” Clearly, Obama needs a new ruler.

The question isn’t whether the country is better off than it was when Obama took office — when it was still in a recession — it’s whether the country is better off than it was when the recovery started almost exactly seven years ago.

Using that as the gauge, many Americans — by several measures — are actually worse off after seven years of Obama’s “recovery” than they were just as the recession was ending.

Yes, some have done well, particularly investors. But the fact that so many are falling behind is nevertheless an testament to the abject failure of Obamanomics, which has produced the slowest economic recovery in modern history. (Just two days after Obama gave his self-congratulatory speech, the Commerce Dept. announced that GDP grew by just 1.2% in the second quarter, less than half what economists had expected.)

economics Are You Better Off Than You Were 7 Years Ago?

This is not a legacy that anyone should hope will continue into the next administration.

Let’s run some of the numbers:

  • More in poverty: During Obama’s “recovery,” 3.1 million people fell into poverty, and the poverty rate climbed from 14.3% in 2009 to 14.8% in 2014, according to Census.
  • Lower household incomes:  Census data show that only the top 40% of households made gains in income under Obama, while the remaining 60% saw their incomes shrink between 2009 and 2014. The bottom 20%, for example, saw their incomes decline by 8.4% over those years.
  • More on food stamps: There were 8.7 million more people on food stamps this April (the last year for which data are available) than there were when recovery started, according to the Department of Agriculture.
  • More labor dropouts: While the number of people who are unemployed fell by about 7 million between June 2009 and today, the number who are no longer in the labor force — either because they’ve quite looking for work or retired — climbed an astonishing 14 million.
  • Less optimism: In June 2009, the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index was 50.8 — anything above 50 represents optimistic, under 50 pessimism. This July, the Optimism Index was 45.5. And while 52% of the public thought the country was headed in the wrong direction, 64% feel that way now.

How does Obama square these facts with his sunny outlook? He doesn’t. He just ignores them. But the public knows what’s going on.

During one of his more honest moments on the campaign trail for his wife earlier this year, Bill Clinton put a fine point on that. “Millions and millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America (Obama) painted and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives.”

Clinton is absolutely right. The shame of it is that neither party is fixing blame where it belongs: on Obama’s anti-growth agenda of tax hikes and regulatory overreach. The last thing we need is four more years of that.