This comes from a president who said earlier this year that “the private sector is doing just fine.”
At best, the economy is barely moving. It’s creeping along at an average annual growth rate of 1.7 percent — well below the growth rate needed to bring unemployment down to normal levels.
Worse, the economy as a whole is not going forward — it’s in reverse. Economists say its growth rate has slowed in this quarter to no more than 1.5 percent, perilously close to the tipping point of another recession.
Mr. Obama also told those union workers that “American manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace since the 1990s,” and that factories have created nearly 500,000 jobs since 2010. The painful reality is that manufacturing still has 2 million fewer jobs than existed before the recession. Last month’s jobs report showed the number of manufacturing and construction jobs remained unchanged.
Economists on both sides of the political aisle say this is the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, and the unspoken reality is that Mr. Obama has not offered any new comprehensive plan to get the economy moving since his failed $831 billion spending stimulus program in 2009.
He has proposed tinier versions of the same plan, but they have been rejected by Congress and there has been no substantive White House proposal since then. The economy is limping on automatic pilot as it cruises along the edge of the dreaded fiscal cliff, while the president lives in a fantasy world in which our factories are “humming again,” as his campaign’s TV ads said, jobs are being created at an imagined pace, and a fictionalized economy is improving.
There is a growing mountain of evidence that things are not OK. Pessimism is growing, businesses large and small are pulling back and consumers are spending less than expected.
The National Federation of Independent Business index of small-business optimism has sunk to one of its lowest levels in a quarter-century. The percentage of NFIB’s small-business owners who think the Obama economy will improve fell by 37 points.
The University of Michigan’s closely-watched consumer confidence preliminary index for December fell sharply to 74.5 from 82.7. National retail sales were up by only 0.3 percent last month, half of what forecasters predicted.
All the while, the president is still peddling higher taxes as the only cure for what ails us — the economic equivalent of the 18th century practice of bleeding a patient to restore his health. We know how that turned out.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.