The following appears in the October 19-25, 2012 issue of the Long Island Business News:
Shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2009, he promised the American people his $860 million stimulus program would jumpstart the economy, be spent on shovel-ready infrastructure construction projects and bring down unemployment to 5.8 percent by the end of his first term. He also pledged to cut the budget deficit in half by 2012.
Well, here we are four years later, and we now know that Obama’s promises were hollow ones and his much touted 2010 “summer of recovery” never materialized. The stimulus failed to move the economy into top gear and failed to put millions of people back to work.
The president’s economic analysis, titled “Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,” which predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009, was wrong. The actual annual unemployment rate hit 9.3 percent in 2009, 9.6 percent in 2010 and 8.95 percent in 2011.
Explaining this phenomenon, the president, in a candid moment, admitted that the shovel-ready construction projects were never really shovel-ready.
The fact is, the bulk of the stimulus money was spent to pay back public employee unions for their 2008 support. Hundreds of billions of one-shot dollars were allotted to state governments to plug their operating deficits and to avoid bureaucrats’ layoffs. And when the stimulus money ran out in 2011, many governors had no alternative but to lay off workers to balance their budgets. New York had to eliminate a $10 billion deficit with major across-the-board cuts.
As for the federal government’s operating deficit, Obama has not only failed to cut it in half, he has permitted it to spin out of control. The national debt, which Obama said was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” when it hit $9 trillion in 2008, has grown to $16 trillion on his watch.
Obama supporters jumped for joy in early October when the unemployment rate, which was 8.1 percent in August, suddenly dropped to 7.8 percent in September. Their celebrations, however, may have been a little premature. That’s because the drop was primarily caused by more people giving up looking for work. Over 8 million unemployed who have thrown in the towel are not counted in the Labor Department’s unemployment figures.
Three years after the Great Recession officially ended, 12 million Americans are still looking for work. Five million have been out of work for six months, 3.5 million for over a year. If the number of underemployed (i.e. part-time workers) and those who have stopped looking are added in, the number jumps to 23 million, putting real unemployment at 15 percent.
While our nation’s population has grown by 31 million since 2000, fewer people are working because only 2 million of the 8 million jobs lost in the recession have been recovered. As a result, 15 percent of the population is below the poverty line, 48 million receive food stamps, 9 million are on disability, half of 2012’s college graduates are unable to find work and 60 percent of Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track.
The failed economic and fiscal policies of the president of hope have driven many people to give up hope.
Shortly after Obama signed into law his stimulus legislation in 2009, he said, “You know, a year from now, I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress, but there’s still going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
Since it hasn’t been “done” in four years, voters should take Obama at his word and deny him a new four-year lease on the White House.