The New Normal

Tim Phillips

10/22/2012 12:01:00 AM - Tim Phillips

To hear President Obama talk you’d think the last four years demonstrate that the country is headed in the right direction. According to the President, life in America is pretty rosy and only getting better. Unfortunately, for many families that just isn’t true. As a society, we Americans are incredibly resilient and resourceful. In difficult times, we adapt and overcome without much complaining. But I fear Americans are growing accustomed to President Obama’s economic failures, and accepting a country with 23 million people looking for work, 46 million on food stamps, a skyrocketing national debt, $4 a gallon gas as the “new normal.”

It was shocking to listen to President Obama on Tuesday night. He tried to explain away the problems of the country by shirking his responsibility for the economy. In listening to the President, you’d think that there is nothing his policies have done to increase the growth of our economy or bring down the price of gasoline or rein in federal spending. The President is living in that new normal, where he accepts economic malaise and crushing debt that already has Europe moving from crisis to crisis.

This new normal is not at all where we should be. At the debate Tuesday night, Governor Romney said it best, “We don’t have to live like this.” We’ve seen it in our own communities – we all have friends or even family members who can’t find a job – when in years past unemployment was something you only saw on the evening news. In four short years, our incomes are down an average of $4,000 while taxes are on the rise. Health care premiums, which this president said he would lower by $2,500, are up almost $3,000. Food stamp usage has growing astronomically, more than doubling in the last four years. Even the price of bacon is up 22%! Our economy is "growing" at less than 2% in many quarters. For the first time, our generation believes that our children won’t have a better future.

President Obama has presided over a "recovery" that feels like we never left the great recession. Yet he’s asking for four more years to prove that the last four years weren’t his fault and no one could have done better.

But ask anyone who has had to live through high school if four years is a long time. Ask one of the 4.8 million Americans who have been unemployed for longer than 27 weeks if our country is really getting better. The President has been bragging about the new 7.8% unemployment rate, but it's truly sad when an American president celebrates this embarrassing statistic. Even then, if the labor force hadn’t shrunk dramatically since Obama took office the unemployment rate would 10.7%. When millions of Americans have given up looking for a job, the economy is not getting better. Four years as President is enough time to demonstrate your ideas will either help or hurt the economy, and it’s certainly enough time to hold the President accountable for his lackluster job performance.

Further proof of the President’s abysmal record is a “Wastebook” released earlier this week from Senator Tom Coburn. It includes a hundred highlights of government jettisoning taxpayer dollars into the abyss of wasteful spending. Prime examples include $142,419 for free bus rides to Super Bowl attendees in Indiana, and $445,444 of science research dollars to produce a musical about biodiversity and climate change in New York (bet that had the crowds pouring in). These might not seem like big numbers compared to a trillion-dollar deficit each year, but these utterly insipid boondoggles are a symptom of the out-of-control spending that has our nation $16 trillion in debt. This is the America that we live in today; an economy on life support where politicians continue to spend while telling us that things will get even worse if they don't keep spending and taxing. What madness.

The good news is we Americans don’t have to accept this new normal of outrageous government spending, high prices at the pump and stumbling economic growth. We know the recipe that works for job creation, and it isn’t trickle-down government. It’s a government that steps aside by decreasing job-killing regulations, that reduces its own bloated size instead of imposing taxes on individuals and businesses. It’s a government with a proper role and size. President Reagan famously, and rightly said, that "...the best social program is a job." Most Americans know that jobs are created by free people innovating and growing prosperity in a nation where the government serves a limited, clearly defined role.