Obama Earns a D on Handling Economy

Stephen Moore
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Posted: Nov 10, 2015 12:01 AM
Obama Earns a D on Handling Economy

Hillary Clinton got the laugh of the week when she said that President Obama doesn't get the credit he deserves for his economic performance.

Oh, wait. She wasn't joking.

Not many Americans agree with Clinton's charitable assessment. We just had a report of 1.5 percent growth in the most-recent quarter. Every poll for five years shows that voters are most concerned about jobs, falling incomes and the debt. (Climate change always ranks last or near last.)

Forty percent to 70 percent of Americans, depending on the poll, say that the U.S. is still in a recession.

To be sure, there have been some successes. We finally got a good jobs report on Friday, and job growth has been steady (but slow). Inflation is tame. And most impressive: The stock market has been on a tear since Obama entered office.

But the areas where things have gone off the tracks far outweigh the good news. So here's a report card on the Obama economy.

Economic growth: Anemic. This recovery is a bust. Compare the growth rate of 2 percent under Obama with nearly 4 percent under President Reagan and 3.5 percent for a normal recovery.

This means we have $2 trillion less gross domestic product today than we would if Obama's performance had been average (i.e., a C grade) and $3 trillion behind the Reagan recovery of the 1980s (an A grade). If Obama had done as well as Reagan, we would have $24,000 higher annual output per household this year.

College and Health Costs: Skyrocketing. Obama promised to lower health costs by $2,500 per family. Oops. This year we have learned that many states are reporting insurance premium increases of 10 percent, 20 percent and even 30 percent. Over the past decade, medical costs are up significantly.

University tuition costs are also surging despite Obama campaign pledges to make college more affordable. Compared with the 2008-2009 school year, tuition and fees at public four-year colleges in 2014-2015 increased by about 37 percent. Meanwhile, tuition and fees at four-year private nonprofit universities increased by about 26 percent, to $31,000 a year. The more money Obama throws at higher education, the more they raise their costs.

Real Unemployment: 10 percent. The low unemployment rate of 5 percent that Obama boasts of is a statistical trick. The real rate of unemployment under Obama is almost twice as high. When counting underemployed part-timers and those working-age Americans who have dropped out of the labor force -- mostly because they can't find a job -- the rate is close to 10 percent. There are now more than 90 million Americans over the age of 16 who are not working -- an all-time high.

Take-Home Pay: Falling. Since President Obama took office, real household income has fallen $1,748 (from January 2009 through this June). This represents a 3.1-percent decline in take-home pay.

Real median weekly earnings have stagnated, too. Since the fourth quarter of 2008 through the first half of 2015, median weekly earnings have been flat.

Income Gaps: Rising. The biggest income declines under the Obama presidency have been recorded by women, Hispanics, blacks and young workers -- the very groups he promised to help.

According to Sentier Research, single women saw their incomes fall by roughly 5 percent in the five years following the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Those ages 25-34 experienced an income decline of 4.4 percent. Black heads-of-households saw their income tumble by 7.7 percent, while Hispanic heads-of-households' income fell 5.6 percent.

These income declines don't even include the huge hit that families took during the 2008-2009 recession.

National Debt: Up. During President Obama's tenure, the national debt has soared more than $7.5 trillion to surpass $18 trillion, and the new budget deal means that, by the time he leaves office, the debt will have nearly doubled. The federal debt has now hit more than $220,000 per household -- which is like a second mortgage.

Taxes: Up. President Obama has raised taxes on investment income, dead people, medical device manufacturers, health insurance policies, smokers and hospitals -- to name a few. Further, Obamacare's "individual mandate" amounts to a massive tax hike on the middle class. The U.S. now has the highest business tax in the world, and businesses are fleeing offshore and taking jobs with them.

Hillary Clinton whined that the media doesn't give Obama "enough credit" on the economy. If Obama really wants to take the "credit" for this economy, he can own it.