There is one person — one American among the 300 million of us — who is not to blame for the state of the union. Everyone else, each of you, in some small or large way, bears some share of the blame, but not this guy. Not one little bit.
This guy is Barack Obama. He is not the least bit to blame for the dismal state of the U.S. economy. George W. Bush is, for sure, and that evil Dick Cheney, oh, no doubt. House Speaker John A. Boehner — evil, too — is, of course, to blame. But guess what? So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and every Democrat in the House and Senate.
Now, President Truman made it very clear: The buck stops with him. No passing the buck for that guy. But Mr. Obama blames everyone but himself. Mr. Bush, he says, left the nation in a ditch, a deep ditch, and he’s been digging out since he took office. And Congress? Those guys are just plain awful, he says. So mean. Wah, they won’t do anything I want done! Mr. Obama feels so sure about it that he’s basing his re-election campaign on bashing Capitol Hill.
But with the president delivering his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, let’s pause here to take as hard look at the real state of America, by the numbers, using only cold, hard facts.
The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”
In addition, there are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.
Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)
Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.
Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.
Since December 2008, a month before Mr. Obama took office, food-stamp use has increased 46 percent. Total spending has more than doubled in just four years to a record high of $75 billion. In 2011, more than 46 million people — about one in seven Americans — got food stamps. That’s 14 million more than when Mr. Obama took office.
Median household income has dropped nearly 7 percent in the last six years, taking inflation into account. What’s more, nearly 20 percent of males age 25 to 34 now live with their parents.
Low- and middle-income Americans 65 and older now hold more than $10,000 in credit card debt, up 26 percent since 2005. The average age of the American car is 10 years; in 1990, it was 6.5 years old (by the way, in 1985, Americans bought 11 million cars; in 2009, less than half that, 5.4 million).
On the macro side, America’s annual budget has jumped to $3.8 trillion — and yet the United States brings in only about $2.1 trillion in revenue. The U.S. trade deficit for 2011 was $558 billion. America’s total public debt stands at $15.23 trillion; in January 2009, the debt was $10.62 trillion. Mr. Obama is on pace to borrow $6.2 trillion in just one term — more debt than was amassed by all presidents from Washington through Bill Clinton combined. The debt is rising by $4.2 billion every day — $175 million per hour, nearly $3 million per minute.
So, America, that is the State of Your Union. But remember, Mr. Obama had not one thing to do with it. So don’t blame him when you go to the polls. Blame everyone else, especially yourself.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.