The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Joe Biden Has No Idea About What’s Going on in the Economy. Perhaps Literally.


I mentioned this briefly on Twitter last night, but it’s a point worth revisiting and extending.

Yesterday, responding to House minority leader John Boehner’s address on the economy, Vice Pres. Joe Biden said:

They think the policies they had in place during the Bush years — the ones Mr. Boehner helped craft and sell — were the right ones. Well, let me tell you, there are millions and millions of Americans who saw their paychecks shrink or their jobs, houses, and savings vanish. Mr. Boehner is nostalgic for those good old days . . . the American people are not.

Biden’s tone is one of incredulous exasperation as he says, “good old days.” (It comes at about 7:40 in this video.) He thinks it’s a punchline.

I read Biden’s words, think of the folks I know who are out of work or are hurting right now, and observe that for the past year and eight months, millions and millions more Americans saw their paychecks shrink or their jobs, houses, and savings vanish.

Paychecks shrink? How about the millions of American working part-time who want full-time jobs?

Unlike the unemployed, now at 9.7 percent of the population or about 15 million people, workers with diminished earning power are a poorly measured part of the labor force. The federal government doesn’t track the entire group on a regular basis, only the number of Americans working part-time despite wanting full-time employment. More than 9 million people were stuck in that situation in April, including workers whose hours had been cut because of slack business conditions. That’s more than double the number from three years ago, before the recession began.

Jobs vanish? Has Biden completely missed that 14.6 million Americans are unemployed, and “only” 11.9 million were unemployed when he took office?

Houses vanish? “Foreclosure rates in the US are 10 times higher than before the recession and housing crisis hit in the fall of 2008. One in every 397 homes received a foreclosure notice.”

Savings vanish? “Investors withdrew a staggering $33.12 billion from domestic stock market mutual funds in the first seven months of this year, according to the Investment Company Institute, the mutual fund industry trade group.” The New York Times argues this is because Americans are moving their money into bonds, but I suspect a chunk of that is Americans living on their savings.

Of course, all this lack of progress would be easier to take if it were cheap, but taxpayers have to cough up a lot to accomplish this little. For the duration of the Bush presidency, unemployment was between 4 percent and 6 percent. When President Bush left office on January 20, 2009, the national debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. It increased $4.8 trillion on his eight-year watch, a terrible record. Today, the national debt is $13,363,278,285,831.30. In other words, in less than two years under Obama’s management, the debt has increased by $2.7 trillion.

Joe Biden’s mouth has been “going rogue” since long before Sarah Palin felt her first “maverick-y” mood, but there is little doubt the rest of the White House signed off on Biden’s sneer about “the good old days.” In other words, it is doubtful anyone around Biden saw any flaw in the notion that Americans are much better off now than they were two years ago.

That’s how out of touch this crew is.

Tags: Barack Obama , Joe Biden


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