Fixing petroleum policy and encouraging Americans to engage in just a little more conservation would eliminate the 5 million barrels a day of oil the United States still imports. If America did that, and confronted China and other currency cheaters over protectionism, the economy could easily cut the ranks of the jobless in half and drive the unemployment rate to 4 percent.
That would put a lot of upward pressure on wages—especially in the lower and middle ranks of the labor force and mitigate income inequality.
Since the recovery began, wages have barely kept up with inflation, but cutting unemployment in half would easily boost wages after inflation by 3 percent overall, and 5 percent or better for folks on the lower end.
A minimum wage of $10.10 an hour with its devastating 500,000 job loss would sentence many workers now employed into deep poverty and dependence on government programs.
But there is a silver lining for the president—folks dependent on federal handouts are more likely to vote Democratic.
Given all this, how should the president spend his time: addressing those problems to really stimulate growth and equality, or tarring Republicans as unworthy of any public office above blackboard monitor for opposing ideological hidebound policies?
Perhaps if he paid attention to those real economic issues—instead of encouraging friends at major newspapers to publish bogus economic theories masquerading as science—he might have something to show for his second term other than being outwitted by Vladimir Putin.
Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and widely published columnist. He tweets @pmorici1
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