Can President Obama honestly believe that a repackaging of his stale, big-spending policies suddenly will start turning around the U.S. economy, nearly four years into his failed administration?
"We're still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," he says in a recent campaign ad -- alluding again to his "It's Bush's fault" mantra. The ad then goes on to promote more government hiring via more federal "stimulus" spending -- paid for, we are assured, only by "asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more." Translation: Raise taxes. In the midst of a crippled economy. No, really. He thinks that'll do the trick.
But if that's such a nifty idea, then why was the original, $862 billion stimulus such an unmitigated flop? It propped up countless government jobs, at the cost of a vastly greater national debt. But when the cash ran dry, those jobs hadn't primed the economic pump as predicted. Unemployment remained high -- certainly above the 8 percent mark that Obama said it would stay below if only Congress approved the first stimulus. Given that track record, what is the rationale behind seeking a new stimulus to fix things?
Oh, and don't let Obama downplay the painful realities: Things certainly need fixing.
"We're still not creating [jobs] as fast as we want," he said in a remarkable understatement. That little gem issued forth around the same time that he bizarrely declared to a nation with 8.2 percent unemployment -- and millions of people who are jobless but for various technical reasons aren't counted as officially unemployed -- that "the private sector is doing fine." And no, he was not taken out of context, as so many in the news media claimed in rushing predictably to his defense. If anything, his fuller comments were even more alarming than the "doing fine" remark because they were couched in his ceaseless call for bigger government -- in a nation roughly $16 trillion in debt and with no visible prospects for repaying it.
Need more evidence of the ongoing economic malaise?
How about this jug of sunshine from the Federal Reserve: The median U.S. family has lost so much wealth in recent years that it has only about the same amount of wealth as it had in the early 1990s.
Much of that drop is attributable to the dreadful housing market. It was estimated earlier this year that $7 trillion in household wealth had been lost over just the past six years due to the collapse in home prices.
That collapse was triggered in large part, mind you, by the federal government's long-term promotion of mortgages for people who were poor credit risks. Government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took on the risk for bad loans, saddling taxpayers with a nearly $200 billion bill to bail out Fannie and Freddie when the foreclosures started.
Meanwhile, on other discouraging fronts, U.S. consumer confidence fell in June, according to data from the University of Michigan. Who can blame the typical consumer for a lack of confidence at this point? Increases in wages -- for those who are getting them -- aren't keeping up with inflation.
Closer to home, Tennessee's unemployment rate recently rose to 7.9 percent, and the rate was a miserable 8.9 percent in Georgia at last count.
It is getting tougher and tougher for the president to claim -- credibly -- that the economy is enjoying serious recovery. So expect lots of shrill campaign ads assuring us that we can't believe our lying eyes and pocketbooks.
Then go ahead and believe your eyes and pocketbooks anyhow, and ignore the rhetoric.