- - Thursday, September 15, 2016

The declining, perpetually weak Obama economy is nearing the end of its eighth year, a testament to his failed policies that continue to plague the American people.

The economy barely grew by a mediocre 1 percent in the first six months of this year, with economists saying it will likely slog along at this dismal pace for the remainder of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Business investment declined, manufacturing orders fell, productivity is down, and the labor force participation rate has shrunk to 62.8 percent, as millions of longterm jobless Americans stopped looking for work and are no longer counted as unemployed, a chief reason why the jobless rate dropped under this presidency.

Americans were further tightening their belts in August, as the Commerce Department announced Thursday that retail sales fell 0.3 percent when the back-to-school buying season usually shows an uptick in spending. Not now.

Auto sales also fell, along with other retail sales in most consumer sectors, suggesting that the economy has fallen into a deep, economy-wide slump.

Making matters worse, major retailers like Macy’s and Walmart were closing hundreds of stores and laying off thousands of workers. “More than two dozen malls have shut down in the last four years, and another 60 malls are on the brink of death,” the Business Insider website said.

The administration, always searching for any dubious statistics to suggest everything’s coming up roses, trotted out a Census Bureau report Tuesday that said incomes had risen and poverty was down.

Predictably, the liberal national news media promoted the story, often without mentioning the larger economic troubles besetting the rest of the economy.

In fact, there were plenty of reasons to distrust this rosy report, and to understand why Donald Trump’s “message of economic decay [is] resonating so broadly,” The New York Times reported Thursday.

“The answer is in plain sight,” the Times said. Real incomes “of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s. And large swaths of the country — rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia — are lagging behind.”

Not surprisingly, there are fears among many Americans that we may be in store for another recession, and that will work in Mr. Trump’s favor in the November election.

When the Gallup Poll asked Americans last week to rate economic conditions, 26 percent said they were excellent or good, while 30 percent said they were poor.

Asked to describe their future economic outlook, 37 percent said it will be “getting better,” while a whopping 57 percent said it was “getting worse.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing the decline in consumer spending and industrial production, said it was unlikely “that the third-quarter is going to show some big rebound from the first half” in the economy’s tepid growth rate.

But the liberal news media is still sticking by President Obama, as it has from the beginning of his presidency, exaggerating any good data, while ignoring or underplaying the decline in the economic growth rate, weak employment numbers and falling confidence in the Obama economy.

The Washington Post, for example, made the Census report on incomes its lead, front page story, saying that the recovery was helping the “middle class” and the poor.

But most of the middle class is struggling and 43.1 million Americans are still in poverty. And the Gallup Poll puts the real unemployment rate at 10 percent, not at the Obama administration’s dubious 4.9 percent.

The New York Times headline over Thursday’s Census report about rising incomes also added a needed dose of reality to the story: that the “Economy Remains Fragile for Many.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month that Mr. Obama’s economy created only 151,000 jobs in August, a pathetic number in a nation of 157 million workers, millions of whom are unemployed or forced to take part-time work when they and their families need full time jobs to make ends meet.

“The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.1 million in August,” the BLS said in its latest report.

“These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job,” BLS said.

Another 1.7 million discouraged, jobless Americans, who have not been able to find a job, were not counted by BLS because they hadn’t looked for work in the last few weeks.

Meantime, Mr. Obama’s been doing little or nothing to help boost employment since he came into office and spent $1 trillion on temporary infrastructure projects, much of which increased the budgets of countless federal agencies and programs.

But it did very little to create longterm employment and boost economic growth which for most of his presidency has been struck in the 2 percent range.

Now in the last year of Mr. Obama’s underperforming, job-challenged presidency, his economy remains stuck in the 1 percent growth range. In other words, the economy has all but stopped growing.

In all these years, have you heard House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi complain about his economic record?

Or Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid? Or, since she left her job in the administration, Hillary Clinton?

On Thursday, Mr. Trump refocused on his tax-cutting, job-creating plan to get America moving again, sounding like an establishment Republican. It just might get him elected.

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

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