- - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This is the sixth year of President Obama’s governance, in which America’s prolonged economic illness is met with one excuse after another. It’s where accountability is evaded at all costs by replacing Harry Truman’s “The buck stops here” with “Blame somebody else.”

Exhibit A: Last week, administration supporters, advisers and the news media were insisting the anemic number of jobs created in December (74,000) and January (113,000) were a result of the severe winter weather and would soon turn around.

If the polar vortex was the cause of the lower jobs count, how is it that construction was one of the relatively stronger job sectors in the past two months?

After December’s shockingly weak jobs report, liberal economists and administration officials were predicting we would see the monthly jobs count soar in the new year.

Mr. Obama told the nation that 2014 would be “a breakout year,” but the minuscule number of jobs added last month fell far below the 200,000 jobs predicted by forecasters.

Liberal Wall Street economist Mark Zandi said he was “very sure” December’s tiny job count would be “up and revised away” in the months to come.

Mr. Zandi, one of the talking heads on the CNBC business channel, insisted the economy was on the brink of seeing much higher job growth in January.

“I wouldn’t pay any attention at all to these numbers,” he said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” about the worrisome December report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When the show’s host, Andrew Sorkin, asked him to “take us a month out. What do these numbers … look like?” Mr. Zandi replied: “It’s 200 [thousand]. We’re looking at 200 [thousand] monthly job growth.”

Even Washington’s top economic reporters, who had been talking up the Obama economy every chance they got, were surprised as the back-to-back, shallow jobs reports came in.

“This was supposed to be the year the economy took off. Instead, new data released Friday show that 2014 stumbled out of the gate,” wrote The Washington Post’s economics reporter Ylan Q. Mui.

This was “the second straight month of lackluster hiring,” Ms. Mui wrote, noting that economic analysts were now saying “that the results reflect a genuine slowdown in economic growth.”

This is a story of monumental implications — economic, political and social — yet the Washington news media has been complicit in playing it down, coming up with excuses, whitewashing the numbers, or ignoring them altogether.

In a nation with a workforce that once numbered in the 160-million range and that suffers from a serious shortage of well-paying jobs, two straight months of mediocre job numbers is front-page news. The Post buried January’s jobs report inside, though.

The White House must have breathed a sigh of relief.

The nightly network news shows dutifully did their part by kissing off Mr. Obama’s dreadfully sluggish job numbers. NBC’s Brian Williams gave the report a few sentences and quickly went on to other, lesser stories.

When the networks present stories on unemployment, which is rare, one name is never mentioned: Mr. Obama. It is as if he is on one planet, and the chronically weak economy is on another, and neither he nor his policies have anything to do with the latter.

Not so when we heard about “Reaganomics” over and over each night in the 1980s, until Ronald Reagan ended the recession in two years, with the help of huge, monthly job creation figures in the hundreds of thousands.

Mr. Obama and his supporters can make all of the excuses they want, and the news media can ignore it night after night, but the jobless American people who suffer so from Obamanomics know what’s going on. They’re fed up.

The Gallup Poll, which regularly takes the pulse of the nation for its Economic Confidence Index, released new numbers Tuesday that found public confidence in the U.S. economy has fallen to its lowest level since December.

Last week, when the polling took place, only 39 percent of Americans “said the economy was getting better, while 55 percent felt it was getting worse.” Nearly 40 percent of the latter called the Obama economy “poor.”

“Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the economy,” Gallup said.

No wonder. Look at the abysmally low economic-growth rate under this administration, when compared with more recent presidencies. Here’s what New York Times economics writer Nelson D. Schwartz wrote on Jan. 30:

“Even after including the fourth quarter’s 3.2 percent GDP growth rate, the economy has expanded at an annual rate of 1.8 percent under President Obama, half the pace of growth in the first five years of the Clinton administration,” and below the 2.5 percent annual growth rate for George W. Bush in his first five years.

Don’t be fooled by the lower 6.6 percent unemployment rate. It fell a notch, but “largely because 91,000 additional working-age adults chose not to seek employment,” says University of Maryland business economic Peter Morici.

Most of the decline in the jobless rate has been a result of our declining labor force, as a result of discouraged, long-term unemployed adult workers who’ve given up looking for jobs that don’t exist.

Weak employment growth is a result of bad policies that have slowed business investment with higher capital-gains and corporate-tax rates, blunted energy production by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, and undercut manufacturing growth because of Senate Democratic opposition to fast-track, job-creating trade expansion.

Stanford University economist Keith Hennessey notes that Mr. Obama’s policies are all about worker “protections” and “assistance,” such as those in France, where the jobless rate is 10 percent.

“We’re not there yet,” Mr. Hennessey says, “but all of Obama’s policies push us toward a European-style model.”

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


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