- - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In a year-end news conference last week, President Obama delivered a whitewashed, deeply delusional report about how much better off the country is under his presidency.

As he has throughout his tenure, he ticked off dubious claims that do not stand up to serious scrutiny, ignoring the mismanagement scandals, policy blunders and political disasters that have struck his administration.

He started off with his biggest whopper: the economy and jobs. “The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s,” he said with a straight face.

The solution Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats chose to pull our economy out of the recession was a nearly $1 trillion spending bill that sent checks to an alphabet list of federal agencies, and state and local governments to spend on schools, infrastructure and anything else they could think of.

The money created some jobs and supposedly “saved” others, but when the roads and bridges were repaired, the “shovel-ready” jobs ended. The unemployment rate was still high, economic growth remained weak and too many millions of Americans were still struggling.

For Mr. Obama to say that this year was the strongest since the 1990s for job creation isn’t much. The national jobless rate averages nearly 6 percent, but unemployment is higher than that in about a dozen states and over 7 percent in nine others.

The president has the gall to compare job growth to the 1990s, but his slippery claim falls short when you compare the employment rates then and now. The economy took off in Bill Clinton’s second term after he signed a Republican capital gains investment tax cut, and the nation’s jobless rate fell to full employment — 4 percent.

Many economists even doubt the 5.8 percent figure for November from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, saying it leaves out millions of jobless or underemployed Americans.

When you count long-term unemployed people who are no longer regularly seeking jobs or have stopped looking — or those forced to take part-time work when they need full-time jobs, the real unemployment rate is 11.5 percent, nearly twice as high as Mr. Obama’s bogus figure.

Perhaps the president’s most insufferable failure is the length of the recession under his impotent policies. The average recession lasts about two years. But at the end of his sixth year in office, we’re still mired in the “recovery” phase, with no end in sight.

When Americans voted in the midterm elections last month, exit polls showed that their biggest concern was the economy and jobs. Yet Mr. Obama campaigned around the country insisting, “There’s almost no economic measure by which we’re not doing better than we were when I took office.”

He implies that the economy is stronger, but Stanford University economist Keith Hennessey says, “That does not necessarily follow, especially given the depth of the 2008-2009 recession. The U.S. economy has been climbing out of that hole for [over] five years, but it still has a long way to go.”

For the past six years, Mr. Obama and his apologists in the news media have exuberantly praised the mediocre monthly job numbers when they began coming in at 150,000, 200,000 and, recently, barely over 300,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the economy has added 2.65 million jobs so far this year, but that’s nothing to write home about. President Reagan’s bipartisan tax cut agenda helped the economy shake off its recession in just two years. In September 1983, the Reagan economy produced a spectacular 1.3 million jobs in one month and was growing at a stunning rate of 4.5 percent (and between 7 percent and 8.5 percent in succeeding months), rates Mr. Obama can only dream about.

Fast-forward to the age of Mr. Obama, when gullible, liberal news media praise the president’s weak economic numbers as “solid” and a sign that the economy is stronger than ever. A majority of Americans still don’t see that happening. A Washington Post/ABC poll last week showed that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy.

Incomes are flat. Economic growth this year will come in at a tepid 2.3 percent to 2.4 percent, says the Federal Reserve, and 2.6 percent to 3.0 percent in 2015.

Though the media downplayed it, the Fed expressed caution about the Obama economy last week, saying that relatively high unemployment and lower inflation forecasts “may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds [interest] rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run.”

At his news conference Friday, Mr. Obama tried to sound upbeat about the past year, saying “I’m energized.” He pointed to his solo decision to block deportation of illegal immigrants, his dubious environmental deal with China, his health care program, his opening to Cuba, and that he has brought more soldiers home from the war-torn Middle East.

But he said little or nothing about his party’s humiliating defeat in the elections, largely because of his unpopularity; the Republican takeover of the Senate; the declining sign-ups for Obamacare; the need to send more troops back to Iraq to fight terrorist armies that now control much of Iraq and Syria and threaten our security at home; or Russia’s unimpeded military invasion of Ukraine and its successful seizure of Crimea.

He said the United States would respond in its own good time to North Korea’s cyberattack, which forced the Sony film studio to shelve one of its movies and which many national security analysts saw as an act of war. By Sunday, though, Mr. Obama meekly played down the event as a form of “vandalism.”

No wonder he is seen as a weak, incompetent chief executive who no longer has a governing majority or an agenda for a troubled country that is understandably now turning its attention to the 2016 presidential election cycle.

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

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