The recent Obama administration scandals shift the spotlight from the economy. Yet the recovery remains depressingly sluggish, with the labor force participation rate at a 34-year low as millions of able-bodied, able-minded Americans simply stopped looking for work.
With President Obama in the fifth year of his presidency, let us examine the effect of the stimulus program, tax hikes, Obamacare and additional regulation on the economy. It isn't pretty.
For the richest Americans, their net worth has fully recovered. For the non-rich, the recovery tells a very different story. At the start of "recovery" in 2009, the mean net worth of the lower 93 percent of households was $139,896. By the close of 2011 -- the latest year available -- it had fallen 4 percent, to $133,817. Food stamp usage sets new records. So far this fiscal year, over 22 million households have received food stamps, up from less than 15 million in 2009. While the stock market has recovered, most Americans have not. The biggest investment for most Americans is their home and the equity in average home remains 28 percent below its 2006 peak.
How does this recovery compare to other post-World War II recoveries?
An Associated Press article said: "Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest. ... Economic growth has never been weaker in a postwar recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. Only once has job growth been slower. More than in any other post-World War II recovery, people who have jobs are hurting: Their paychecks have fallen behind inflation." According to Wall Street Journal economist Stephen Moore, "We've had the worst, by far -- not by a little bit, by far -- the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression."
Before President Obama entered office, the national debt stood at about $9.9 trillion. It is now estimated at $17.4 for 2013. Obama added more debt in his first term than President George W. Bush did in two terms. And to what end?
What about Obamacare, marketed as way to provide the uninsured with health care coverage -- all while "bending the cost curve" down?
During last year's presidential campaign, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "Everybody will have lower rates." But according to independent analysts, those purchasing insurance through an individual plan -- the way about 10 percent of Americans currently get their insurance -- will likely see substantial rate hikes. The state of California recently released estimates showing increases from 64 to 146 percent.