The economy is limping along at an official 2 percent growth rate - and even that is overstated because it includes a 9.6 percent increase in deficit-financed government spending. The private sector grew at just 1.6 percent last quarter. Employment data remains weak. Household incomes continue to fall. We're already in the recession red zone, and the largest tax hike in American history looms January 1 if Congress fails to reach an agreement to cancel it. In this contest, the presidential election boils down to a remarkably simple choice: recession or real recovery.
An Obama reelection would all but guarantee the economy tips back into recession next year. For one thing, the purported recovery he's presided over is already the weakest on record. Since the recession officially ended and we entered recovery three years ago, household incomes have actually fallen by $3,000.
Labor markets are extraordinarily weak. Even with the surprise decrease in unemployment in September, that report still found over 12 million Americans unemployed - more than when Obama took office. Add to that 8.6 million Americans working part-time for economic reasons and 2.5 million discouraged workers who want a job but temporarily given up even looking for work, and you get a total of 23.2 million Americans unable to find full-time work. (The newly engaged battleground of Pennsylvania has suffered one of the worst jobless recoveries, losing a net of over 90,000 jobs since Obama took office.)
This is a natural consequence of Obama's big government approach, which entails a dramatically expanded federal imprint on the economy from haphazard and contradictory regulations. Businesses will not hire when the rules of the game are constantly changing and they find it impossible to forecast their tax rates and regulatory compliance costs. The president's health care law has made it impossible to gauge health expenses associated with new hires -they are certain to go up, but nobody knows by how much - creating another drag on hiring.
Genuine economic suffering is far greater than meets the eye, as households are squeezed between falling incomes and rising prices. Gasoline prices have doubled from when Obama took office, and have increased in line with Obama's new restrictions on offshore drilling. The invisible bread lines of this "recovery" have been food stamp and disability rolls. Food stamp rolls have jumped a heartbreaking 45 percent to now include a record 46.7 million Americans. More than 6 million people have signed up for disability since Obama became president.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.
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