- - Friday, October 31, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama says his policies, all of them, are on the ballot Tuesday. Indeed they are, and the one that counts more than any other is the economy. Guns, abortion, traditional marriage, important all, nevertheless fade into irrelevancy for the man or woman who can’t find a decent job. The message last week from Janet Yellen, Mr. Obama’s chosen chairman of the Federal Reserve, is that everything is going just fine. If only.

The U.S. economy grew at 3.5 percent last quarter. The official unemployment rate finally fell below 6 percent. Inflation remained under control, below the crucial 2 percent threshold. She could check all the boxes on the Fed’s mandate to control inflation and keep unemployment low. The central bank’s “quantitative easing” bond-buying program can now end, says Mrs. Yellen, because the economy is strong.

But Mrs. Yellen is an experienced economist, and she has a harder head than that. She knows these statistics don’t tell the full story, and that the conclusion of the bond-buying campaign won’t put an end to the easy money. The Fed will preserve its bloated $4 trillion balance sheet and the near-zero percent interest rates for the foreseeable future. The printers who man the money presses around the clock at the Treasury won’t get a break. Those presses prop up the fundamentally weak economy.

Consider the record of the six years of Obamanomics. The national debt has grown 68 percent under Mr. Obama to a staggering $17.9 trillion. The government grew at the expense of the poor and middle class who watch their incomes stagnate.

The decrease in the unemployment rate largely reflects the decrease in the numbers of Americans looking for work. These forgotten millions aren’t counted as part of the labor market because they’ve given up after a long, fruitless and frustrating search. The recent increase in growth numbers is driven by a temporary increase in defense spending, which is not sustainable, and by a bump in overseas demand. That can’t last long. The European Union, the main U.S. trading partner, is sliding into recession again.

The administration has proposed no fewer than 442 new taxes, by the arithmetic of the Americans for Tax Reform, and the poorest 20 percent have seen their incomes actually fall in the Obama era, by the calculation of the Federal Reserve. The poverty rate of blacks was up from 25.8 percent in 2009 to 27.2 percent in 2013. That’s not an achievement worthy of a post-racial president.

Young people, who voted for Mr. Obama in big numbers, are returning in big numbers to a basement at their parents’ homes, the result of student-loan debt and the most miserable job market in a generation. They can’t afford to get married, start families or buy a house, which contributes to the continued weakness in the housing market. That can’t be fixed by keeping interest rates artificially low.

Two more years of these policies are on the ballot Tuesday. Two more years of failed stimulus and easy money. Six years on, President Obama can’t any longer blame his weakness and failure on George W. Bush. The economy is his baby now.

Nobody needs a crystal ball to see what lies ahead if Obamanomics is not reversed. Greece and Italy have hurried down the primrose path of endless government spending, taxes and stimulus only to find nothing there but bankruptcy. It’s a caution for all. Election Day is the final chance to say, “no more.”

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