WASHINGTON - Barack Obama continues to tell us that the quality of our lives and our economy have improved when all the available evidence shows they have not. In fact, they've grown worse under his policies.
Recent economic data, studies and government reports reveal a nation in persistent decline showing very little improvement in the lives of millions of Americans.
Incomes have fallen, poverty and homeless rates have risen, full- time jobs are much harder to come by, as low-pay, part-time jobs are surging, even while the work force is shrinking. Workers are losing their health insurance under Obamacare, confidence in the American economy is dropping, according to the latest Gallup poll, and Obama's job approval polls have sunk into the low 40s.
It was reported this week that "four years after the end of [the 2008-09] recession, incomes remain depressed."
How can this be? We haven't heard that on the nightly network news programs. They keep telling us that things are getting better.
But The Washington Post, in a story that should have run on page one but was thrown on page 11, reported Thursday that "The buying power of Americans continues to be weaker than it was when the recession ended four years ago..."
"Inflation-adjusted median household income has declined 4.4 percent... since June 2009," the year Obama became president and the recession supposedly ended, according to a report by Sentier Research, a data-analysis group run by two former U.S. Census Bureau officials.
While average incomes have risen for some Americans, "it remains 6.1 percent below where it stood when the country toppled into recession in December 2007," writes Post reporter Michael A. Fletcher.
And if you think the decline in incomes is mostly among poor, under-educated minorities, think again. The nation's median income "is lagging across education levels and racial groups," the report said.
While Obama insists the economy has improved since he became president, the facts tell a far different story.
U.S. median income (which is midpoint in the nation's household income range) was $52,098 in June, but that's down from $54,478 in June 2009, and it is well below what median income was ($55,480) before the recession began at the end of 2007.
Then there's this economic report from the Associated Press just last month:
"Four out 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."
That finding came out just as Obama was attempting to show that he had not entirely forgotten about the economy, delivering a series of speeches about rebuilding "ladders of opportunity." Does anyone remember a single proposal from any of those speeches that would put America back to work?
AP's report, based on new survey data, pointed out that "Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites" who have grown sharply more pessimistic about their families' economic futures. An AP poll found that "63 percent of whites called the economy 'poor.'"
According to the AP, "More than 19 million whites now fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation's destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks."
"Poverty is no longer an issue of 'them', it's an issue of 'us'," said Mark Rank, a Washington University in St. Louis professor who calculated the numbers along with a group of academics from other universities and the U.S. Census Bureau.
The government's monthly economic data reflect these and other disturbing findings from economic analysts that reveal a steadily declining quality of life for tens of millions of Americans.
In March of this year, the U.S. Commerce Department released figures showing personal income fell 3.6 percent, the largest decline in two decades. The number was worse when taxes and inflation were figured into the economic data, pushing real personal disposable income down by 4 percent, the largest monthly decline in 50 years.
"What this means is that the U.S. economy is not merely recovering from the recession more slowly than one might like, but is actually getting worse for many Americans," economic analyst Michael Sivy wrote in Time Magazine's business and money website.
In his prescient March 3 analysis, titled "Why Many Americans Feel Like They're Getting Poorer," Sivy forecast that "the standard of living is falling for as much as half the population, particularly if you look beyond monthly numbers to longer-term trends."
That forecast was deadly accurate. The nation's gross domestic product, the measure our total economic output, barely grew at a snail's past 1.4 percent annual rate in the first six months of this year.
Everything in our economy has slowed down or come to a standstill. A mere 162,000 jobs were created in July, a four year low, far below what is needed to bring the jobless rate down to 6 percent anytime soon.
Wages are flat or falling. Employers are cutting worker hours, reducing the average work week to 34.4 hours. And businesses are cutting costs by hiring part-timers instead of full-time employes, and reducing hours worked to avoid Obamacare's health insurance mandate.
In virtually all of the news media's reporting about the economy's decline, one name is rarely or almost never mentioned: Obama. It's as if the economy is on one planet and the president is on another, and never the twain shall meet.
But Obama is to blame, lock, stock and barrel, for the economic pain millions of Americans are going through. It all stems from his anti-growth policies which have given us higher taxes, oppressive gas prices, crushing federal debt, and unending economic uncertainty and costly regulatory obstacles that have paralyzed our economy.
And it's not going to end until his term is over and a pro- growth, pro-free enterprise president occupies the Oval Office and declares that America is "open for business."