Where's the Good Economy We Were Promised?
by Derryck Green (bio)
As unemployment numbers drop only slightly, it appears President Obama is relying on this as an extremely misleading indicator to claim the economy is recovering.
Since unemployment numbers haven't always told the true story of what's happened to the U.S. economy, a more diligent survey of other, broader indicators is necessary to gauge the President's economic stewardship. When defined by gross domestic product (GDP) growth, for example, it's the worst economy in 83 years.
Regarding GDP growth, the American economy grew at just 2.5 percent during the first quarter of 2013 — much slower than expected. One cause is a reduction in defense spending over the past two quarters. According to the Congressional Budget Office, defense cuts during the Obama Administration may actually inhibit GDP growth for the next several years.
As for the jobless and underworked, the actual overall unemployment rate is just below 14 percent. And when unemployment is viewed on a state-by-state basis, there are only six states that have such a "U-6 unemployment rate" — covering the underemployed, discouraged and jobless — that is below ten percent.
Additionally, USA Today recently revealed that roughly 93 percent of American households lost wealth during President Obama's first term. Further, data collected by the Urban Institute reveals that — by race — Hispanic families lost 44 percent, black families lost 31 percent and white families lost 11 percent of their wealth on average under Obama.
Families losing wealth doesn't do much to support the notion of an economic recovery.
With the economy in a sustained rut, more people find themselves in poverty and enrolled in the federal food stamp program (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). Looking at two separate sources, it shows precisely how bad things are getting and why.
There's no doubt the recession and so-called recovery have hit many families much harder than others. SNAP can provide sustenance for those truly in need, but SNAP is being used and abused by folks who may not really need assistance.
According to The Washington Post, SNAP recruiters in Florida have monthly quotas so as to ensure $6 billion dollars of federal money continues to pour into the state's economy.
Furthermore — and what should concern folks more — is that, according to Judicial Watch, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working in conjunction with the Mexican Embassy to "widely broaden the SNAP program in the Mexican immigrant community, with no effort to restrict aid to, identify or apprehend illegal immigrants who may be on the food stamp rolls."
The actual government flyer passed around the immigrant community reads in bold-face type and underlined: "You need not divulge information regarding your immigration status in seeking this benefit for your children."
Americans' tax dollars at work!
What's President Obama's response to the ongoing economic stagnation? One seems to be more golf. The President has reportedly devoted more time to the golf course than he has to the economy. Twice as much, actually.
Another of the President's responses is to push gun control and comprehensive immigration reform at a time when some polls report only four percent of Americans consider gun control or immigration a top issue. The most important issue to those polled was the economy at 24 percent.
Another government response is to continue the Federal Reserve's $85 billion-per-month purchasing of mortgage-backed securities.
Considering these and other economic realities, a course correction cannot be foreseen as happening anytime soon — especially with the train wreck tax effects of ObamaCare approaching. With major corporations already laying off some employees and reducing the hours of others, there is real concern about the lack of domestic economic viability on the horizon.
If this is as good as it gets, as President Obama seems to want Americans to think, concern and doubt about a much-needed economic recovery is justified.
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Derryck Green, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, received a M.A. in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing his doctorate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University. Comments may be sent to [email protected].
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.
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