Hillary Rodham Clinton got the laugh line of the week when she said that President Obama deserves “an A” for his economic performance. Oh, wait. she wasn’t joking.
Talk about grade inflation. Not many Americans agree with Hillary’s charitable assessment. We just had a report of 1.5 percent growth in the last quarter. Every poll for five years shows that voters are most concerned about jobs, falling incomes, and the debt. (Climate change always ranks last or near last, by the way.) Anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of Americans, depending on the poll, say that the United States is still in a recession six and a half years into the Obama presidency.
To be sure, there have been some successes. We finally got a good jobs report on Friday and job growth has been steady — but slow. Inflation is tame. And most impressive: the stock market has been on a tear since Obama entered office.
But the areas where things have gone off the tracks far outweigh the good news. So here’s a real report card on the Obama economy:
1. Economic growth: Anemic.
This recovery is a bust. The growth rate of 2 percent under Mr. Obama’s recovery compares to nearly 4 percent for Reagan and 3.5 percent for a normal recovery. This means we have $2 trillion less GDP today than we would if Obama’s performance had been average — i.e. a C grade — and $3 trillion behind the Reagan recovery — an A grade. If Mr. Obama had done as well as Mr. Reagan, we would have $24,000 higher annual output per household this year.
2. College and Health Costs: Skyrocketing
Mr. Obama promised to lower health costs by $2,500 per family. Oops. This year we have learned that many states are reporting insurance premium increases of 10, 20, and even 30 percent. Over the past decade, medical costs are up significantly.
University tuition costs are also surging despite Obama campaign pledges to make college more affordable. Compared to the 2008-2009 school year, tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges in 2014-2015 increased by about 37 percent. Meanwhile, tuition and fees at 4-year private nonprofit universities increased by about 26 percent to $31,000 a year. The more Mr. Obama throws at higher education, the more they raise their costs.
3. Real Unemployment Rate in America: 10 percent
The low unemployment rate of 5.1 percent that Mr. Obama boasts of is a statistical trick. The real rate of unemployment under Mr. Obama is almost twice as high. When counting underemployed part timers and those working age Americans who have dropped out of the labor force — mostly because they can’t find a job — is close to 10 percent. There are now more than 90 million Americans over the age of 16 that are not working — an all-time record high.
4. Take Home Pay: Falling
Since President Obama took office, real household income has fallen $1,748 (from January 2009 through June of this year). This represents a 3.1 percent decline in take-home pay. Real median weekly earnings have stagnated too. Since the fourth quarter of 2008 through the first half of 2015, median usual weekly earnings have been flat. Americans have not had a pay raise in almost 10 years.
5. Income Gaps Rising
The biggest income declines under the Obama presidency have been recorded by women, Hispanics, blacks, and young workers — the very groups he promised to help. According to Sentier Research, single women saw their incomes fall by roughly 5 percent in the five years following the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Those age 25-34 experienced an income decline of 4.4 percent. Black heads of households saw their income tumble by 7.7 percent, while Hispanic heads-of-households’ income fell 5.6 percent. These income declines don’t even include the huge hit that families took during the 2008-09 recession.
6. National Debt: Now Tops $220,000 Per Family.
President Obama’s first act was an $830 billion spending “stimulus plan.” The idea was that borrowing would make us richer. As a consequence, during Mr. Obama’s tenure, the national debt has soared more than $7.5 trillion to surpass $18.0 trillion in total and the new budget deal means that by the time he leaves office the debt will have nearly doubled. The federal debt has now hit more than $220,000 per household in federal debt — which is like a second mortgage.
7. Taxes: Up
President Obama has raised taxes on investment income, dead people, medical device manufacturers, health insurance policies, smokers and hospitals — to name a few. Further, Obamacare’s “individual mandate” amounts to a massive tax hike on the middle class. Mr. Obama has raised investment taxes by almost 60 percent from 15 percent to 23.8 percent and these levies have made America uncompetitive and reduced business investment and hiring. The United States now has the highest business tax in the world and businesses are fleeing offshore and taking jobs with them.
8. Cost of Government Regulations: Up
President Obama has greatly surpassed his predecessors in the issuance of costly government regulations. New regulations on power plants, fuel standards, finance, and healthcare raise costs on consumers while stifling industry. In 2015 Mr. Obama put new regulations on coal and natural gas production and the Heritage Foundation estimates these rules alone will cost the economy nearly 600,000 jobs and the average middle class family of four will lose $1,200 in annual income. The Competitive Enterprise Institute now estimates that regulations cost American consumers an all-time high $2 trillion a year. This is more than the $1.7 in corporate and individual income taxes collected last year.
Hillary whined that the media doesn’t give Obama “enough credit” on the economy. If Mr. Obama really wants to take the “credit” for this economy — he can own it.
• Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and a Fox News contributor.