Economic indicators don’t bode well for Obama |

Economic indicators don’t bode well for Obama

Right Angles
James D. Kellogg
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
James D. Kellogg

Will 2012 be better than 2011? How will it compare to the two years before that?

It’s a presidential election year and voters are pondering one question above all others: “Am I better off in 2012 than when Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States?”

For most people, the answer is, “no.” That means Mr. Obama may be looking for a new job in 10 months.

Presidential elections usually turn on the economy. During the past few months, the media has eagerly reported slight increases in consumer spending and hiring. Many pundits point to this as inarguable evidence that economic growth and recovery are underway. Really?

Chris Christopher, an economist at HIS Global Insight, calculates that at least one third of increased consumer spending is due to rising prices. Inflation, which doesn’t include food and energy costs, has risen by more than 2 percentage points over the past year.

The “misery index,” which stems from the Jimmy Carter years and combines unemployment with inflation, has risen from 7.8 percent to 12 percent during the Obama presidency. Consumers have dipped into savings and used credit to finance the additional spending.

Here’s more sobering news. In a Dec. 14 statement, the Federal Reserve cautioned that business investment has slowed and unemployment remains high. It now stands at 8.6 percent compared to 7.8 percent in January of 2009 when President Obama took office. That’s less than the 10.1 percent peak in early 2009, but much of that drop was people leaving the labor force.

Did you know the federal unemployment rate isn’t based on people who don’t have jobs? It’s a measure of jobless people actively looking for work. That means it doesn’t include legions of individuals who’ve exhausted local job listings and temporarily given up searching.

Ed Luce of the Financial Times wrote, “According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”

Then there are the underemployed, those people working part-time and temporary jobs. The so called “U6” unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent.

Regardless of calculation methods, few economists predict that by November 2012 nationwide unemployment to drop to 7.4 percent, the number that existed when President Reagan was re-elected in 1984. No president since Roosevelt has been re-elected with higher unemployment.

Against this somber backdrop, median family income has dropped since 2009. The combination of dwindling income and rising expenditures has resulted in more households defaulting on mortgage payments. Today about 12 percent of U.S. mortgage holders are in foreclosure.

Not surprisingly, a recent Associated Press poll indicated 52 percent of Americans believe President Obama should be voted out of office. His economic policies meet with 60 percent disapproval. Most polls show at least 70 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. That doesn’t bode well for a political campaign.

In February 2009, Mr. Obama said if the economy wasn’t fixed in three years, “there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” By his own standard, President Obama doesn’t deserve a second term … unless you move the goal posts.

Facing a losing re-election battle, the Obama administration now insists it didn’t know how bad the economy was. That’s hard to believe.

In 2008 and 2009, Mr. Obama incessantly claimed, “We are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” And the administration’s favorite economist, Paul Krugman, professed, “This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.”

The first votes of the Republican primary are being cast in the Iowa caucus today. Other states will follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

The candidate who emerges victorious must convey a clear message: Americans are not better off with Barack Obama as president, whether he was ignorant about the magnitude of the economic crisis or not. Couple that with a solid conservative platform and Barack Obama will be ousted from the White House like Jimmy Carter.

“Right Angles” appears on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. James D. Kellogg of New Castle is a professional engineer, the author of the novel E-Force, and the founder of . Contact him at jamesdkellogg@yahoo. com.

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