Two and a half years into the Obama presidency, why does the economy still sputter?
The first and most popular line of defense, of course, remains to blame it on the George W. Bush administration.
Pundits like CNN's Fareed Zakaria falsely attribute the current $1.5 trillion deficit to the "Bush tax cuts," while Obama puts the "cost" at $70 billion a year. MSNBC's Ed Schultz asserts that "98 percent of you" were not affected by the cuts, an odd argument considering that Obama supports extending the Bush-era rates for the very 98 percent that Schultz claims received no benefit.
Others blame the "costly" wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the average annual cost of the wars -- as well as the "cost" of the Bush tax cuts for the rich -- come to no more than 20 percent or so of the deficit.
When considering the "cost" of the Iraq War, critics never compare it to the "cost" of another 9/11 or worse. The New York Times recently tried to put a price on 9/11 and our response: "In a survey of estimates by The New York Times, the answer is $3.3 trillion, or about $7 million for every dollar al-Qaida spent planning and executing the attacks. While not all of the costs have been borne by the government -- and some are still to come -- this total equals one-fifth of the current national debt."
Did Iraq play a major role in the lack -- so far -- of another successful attack on U.S. soil? Ask al-Qaida.
Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new al-Qaida leader after the killing of bin Laden, both called Iraq the "front line" in the battle against the infidels. Bin Laden, in 2004, made this quite clear: "The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. ... The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate. ... The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation."
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander in charge of the Iraq invasion, said: "The Global War on Terrorism will be a long fight. But make no mistake, we are going to fight the terrorists. The question is do we fight them over there -- or do we fight them here. I choose to fight them over there."
Another excuse is that the "Great Recession" was a (SET ITAL) financial (END ITAL) recession and, therefore, lasts longer than the non-financial type. No one said anything abut a "financial recession" when Obama's economic advisors pushed the "stimulus" as a means to prevent unemployment from reaching 8 percent, while predicting that 3.5 million jobs would be "saved or created," with 90 percent of these jobs coming from the private sector.
A recently and increasingly popular excuse: Blame unemployment on ... the rise of the machines.
President Barack Obama, June '11: "There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate. So all these things have created changes in the economy."
Chris Matthews, MSNBC, September '11: "CVS used to employ a lot of people just above the poverty level, above minimum wage, and you walk in there now, it's all machines. Now, it's very convenient for the customer. It's all machines. ... I used to have about seven or eight cameramen. I don't have them anymore, it's automated, it's all robots. ... I used to go to a gas station, have -- somebody would check your tires and check your oil. There ain't anybody there. There's nobody working in a gas station."
Christiane Amanpour, ABC, September '11: "But what about the very real problem, and that is many businesses seeing precisely because of the efficiency of, let's say, online and the new sort of technology, that it is much cheaper to buy a machine to do the job -- you don't have to train it, you don't have to pay it wages -- rather than hire a person. This seems to be the structural reality of the economy now."
So after blaming Bush, bad luck and machines, where does this leave us?
What about the assortment of tax increases on the very people who produce jobs? Or ObamaCare and the placing of a large slice of the economy under the command and control of an inherently inefficient and wasteful government? Or the failed trillion-dollar "stimulus" program? Or the reckless, inflation-inducing printing of money? Or billions of dollars in new business regulations with a fear of more to come? Or the constant threat of not renewing the Bush-era tax cuts for the so-called rich? Or the refusal to allow oil drilling that could produce as many as more than a million jobs. Or ...