LAMBRO: Still missing: The recovery

Despite the White House hype, America’s lot is worsening

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President Obama continues to tell us that the quality of our lives and our economy have improved when all the available evidence shows they have not. In fact, they’ve grown worse under his policies.

Recent economic data, studies and government reports reveal a nation in persistent decline and showing very little if any improvement in the lives of millions of Americans.

Incomes have fallen, poverty and homeless rates have risen, and full-time jobs are much harder to come by, as low-paying, part-time jobs are surging, even while the workforce is shrinking. Workers are losing their health insurance under Obamacare, confidence in the American economy is dropping, according to the latest Gallup poll, and Mr. Obama’s job-approval polls have sunk into the low 40s.

It was reported this week that “four years after the end of [the 2008-09] recession, incomes remain depressed.” How can this be? We haven’t heard that on the nightly network news programs. They keep telling us that things are getting better.

But The Washington Post, in a story that should have run on Page One, but was thrown on Page 11, reported Thursday that “[t]he buying power of Americans continues to be weaker than it was when the recession ended four years ago … .”

“Inflation-adjusted median household income has declined 4.4 percent … since June 2009,” the year Mr. Obama became president and the recession supposedly ended, according to a report by Sentier Research, a data-analysis group run by two former U.S. Census Bureau officials.

While average income has risen for some Americans, “it remains 6.1 percent below where it stood when the country toppled into recession in December 2007,” writes Post reporter Michael A. Fletcher.

If you think the decline in incomes is mostly among poor, undereducated minorities, think again. The nation’s median income “is lagging across education levels and racial groups,” the report said.

While Mr. Obama insists the economy has improved since he became president, the facts tell a far different story. U.S. median income was $52,098 in June, but that’s down from $54,478 in June 2009, and it is well below the median income of $55,480 before the recession began at the end of 2007.

Then there’s this economic report from the Associated Press just last month: “Four out five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.”

That finding came out just as Mr. Obama was attempting to show that he had not entirely forgotten about the economy, delivering a series of speeches about rebuilding “ladders of opportunity.” Does anyone remember a single proposal from any of those speeches that would put America back to work?

The AP’s report, based on new survey data, pointed out, “Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites,” who have grown sharply more pessimistic about their families’ economic futures. An AP poll found that “63 percent of whites called the economy ‘poor.’”

According to the AP, “More than 19 million whites now fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.”

“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them,’ it’s an issue of ‘us,’” said Mark Rank, a Washington University professor in St. Louis, who calculated the numbers along with a group of academics from other universities and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The government’s monthly economic data reflect these and other disturbing findings from economic analysts that reveal a steadily declining quality of life for tens of millions of Americans. In March, the Commerce Department released figures showing personal income fell 3.6 percent, the largest decline in two decades. The number was worse when taxes and inflation were figured in, pushing down real personal disposable income by 4 percent, the largest monthly decline in 50 years.

“What this means is that the U.S. economy is not merely recovering from the recession more slowly than one might like, but is actually getting worse for many Americans,” economic analyst Michael Sivy wrote in Time magazine’s business and money website.

In his prescient March 3 analysis, titled “Why Many Americans Feel Like They’re Getting Poorer,” Mr. Sivy forecast that “the standard of living is falling for as much as half the population, particularly if you look beyond monthly numbers to longer-term trends.” That forecast was deadly accurate. The nation’s gross domestic product barely grew at a snail’s pace 1.4 percent annual rate in the first six months of this year.

In virtually all of the news media’s reporting about the economy’s decline, one name is hardly ever mentioned: Mr. Obama. He is to blame, though, for the economic pain millions of Americans are going through. It all stems from his anti-growth policies, which have given us higher taxes, oppressive gas prices, crushing federal debt, unending economic uncertainty and costly regulatory obstacles.

It’s not going to end until his term is over, and a pro-growth, pro-free enterprise president occupies the Oval Office and declares that America is “open for business.”

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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