WASHINGTON - Barack Obama has been saying that Americans are doing a lot better than they were before he was sworn into office in 2009.
It's a claim he's been repeating everywhere he goes, at party fundraising events and in nearly every interview he's had in recent months.
"There's almost no economic measure by which we are not better off now than we were when I took office," he told Democrats earlier this month at a campaign fundraiser in Dallas.
"We are indisputably better than when I was elected," he says.
It's a fundamentally specious, slippery and exaggerated claim that contains more holes than than a pound of Swiss cheese -- a defensive political ploy that asks Americans to ignore the painfully sluggish, job-challenged economy that he's put us through for the past six years.
He took office in the midst of a severe recession when just about all of the relevant economic data was bad, from soaring unemployment to a shrinking economy.
But the average length of time it has taken our country to emerge from post-war recessions has been about two years. We are in the sixth year of the so-called Obama recovery in which the economy's performance is still being widely called "mediocre," "sluggish," "disappointing," "sub-par," "uneven" and "weak" in countless newspaper reports across the country.
"I don't think the facts on the ground merit anybody spiking a football and celebrating," economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin says about Obama's boastful claims.
Indeed, this year began with the nation's economic growth rate actually shrinking in the first three months by 2.9 percent, a shocking plunge that the administration blamed entirely on the winter weather.
It was the economy's worst first quarter performance since 2009, the U.S. Commerce Department said, though the second quarter was expected to be better, economists said this week.
But the fact of the matter is that U.S. economic growth under Obama has been at a meager 2 percent annual rate for sometime now, which no economist worth his or her salt would say is worth cheering about.
Democrats say slower economic growth is the "new normal" in the Age of Obama, but wiser economists dismiss that as pure bunk.
"Since 2000, GDP growth has averaged 1.7 per year, whereas during the Reagan-Clinton years, it was 3.4 percent," says University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici.
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