Obamanomics: Puffery vs. Reality

Member Group : Reflections

A disconcerting combination of haughtiness and inaccuracy was on full display by President Obama during his farewell visit on July 21st, 2015 to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.

"Here’s the thing I can say, Jon," said Mr. Obama. "I can say this unequivocally," i.e., absolutely, with no ifs, ands or buts: "The VA is better now than when I came into office; government works better than when I came into office; the economy, by every metric, is better than when I came into office."
That sounds like a trifecta, except the facts show it’s a fiction.

Regarding the VA being allegedly "better," here’s the headline on a Daily Caller report by Jonah Bennett, exactly a week before Obama made the claim of a new and better VA: "Almost a Third of Veterans on the 847,000-Long Waitlist Died Without VA Care."

"A new leaked document from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicates 238,657 veterans have died while waiting for health care appointments," reported Bennett. "There are a total of 847,822 veterans on the enrollment waitlist, meaning a third have been declared deceased while in line for care."

"The VA wants you to believe, by virtue of people being able to get health care elsewhere, it’s not a big deal," explains whistleblower Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta. "But the VA is turning away tens of thousands of veterans eligible for health care."

Regarding President Obama’s statement about the government overall being "better than when I came into office," one can quite easily contend that "better" isn’t the most accurate adjective to describe the government’s performance during Obama’s years in the Oval Office, whether it’s the unrelenting military and diplomatic failures in the Middle East, the political targeting of conservatives by the IRS, the ATF’s gunwalking, the National Labor Relations Board’s leaking information to the National Association of Manufacturers, the continued fumbling with border security, or the General Services Administration’s no-expense-spared $822,000 4-day party in Vegas to discuss government efficiency while the participants enjoyed an endless array of taxpayer-purchased super-pricey food and drinks and a federally-supplied mind reader.

With President Obama’s claim that "the economy, by every metric, is better than when I came into office," the economic outcomes after six-plus years of higher taxes, more regulations, higher federal debt and more government spending paint a picture that’s much less rosy.

Overall, the Census Bureau’s latest annual report shows that more American households are living in poverty and that the incomes of the nation’s middle-class are shrinking:

* Median weekly earnings for full-time workers, adjusted for inflation, were lower in the second quarter of 2015 than in the second quarter of 2009.

* The percentage of people in poverty in the United States increased from 13.2 percent in 2009 to 14.5 percent in 2014, putting millions more people in poverty than on the day Obama was elected president. Congruently, the number of food stamp recipients increased from 33.5 million in 2009 to 46.5 million in 2014, an increase of 39 percent.

* The labor force participation rate (the percentage of people either working or looking for work) dropped from 65.7 percent in January 2009 to 62.6 percent by June 2015. Overall, over 1 million fewer Americans are working now than six years ago.

* With job growth, total nonfarm employment increased by approximately 10% from Reagan’s inauguration in January 1981 through October 1986. With Obama, from January 2009 through October 2014, total nonfarm employment expanded by 4.1%.

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics and the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

Ralph R. Reiland,
Email: rrreiland. Phone: 412-527-2199