Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton Indicts Obamanomics

Clinton speaks at Nashua Community College, January 4, 2016. (Darren McCollester/Getty)

Bill Clinton flew to New Hampshire and unsealed an indictment against Obama’s economy.

Campaigning in Exeter, Hillary’s “secret weapon” told Granite State voters Monday, “I think this election is about restoring broadly shared prosperity, rebuilding the middle class, giving kids the American Dream back.”

The former president may have seemed to hammer some far-right Republican president who gleefully impoverishes average Americans while enriching his fellow plutocrats. However, a far-left Democrat has been president for the past seven years. The economic stagnation that Clinton critiqued is Obama’s.

In Obama’s first or second year, Clinton might have managed to blame Baby Bush’s massive spending, red tape, and nationalizations for America’s economic woes and middle-class anxieties. But in Obama’s seventh year, this excuse has rusted.

Obamanomics has narrowed prosperity, dismantled the middle class, and snatched the American Dream from America’s kids.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee has detailed this devastation. “The Obama recovery has failed hardworking Americans,” JEC analyst Jeff Schlagenhauf reported last month. “On economic growth, private-sector job creation, and income growth, the Obama recovery ranks far below average.”

The Great Recession began in December 2007 under Bush and ended in June 2009 under Obama. JEC compared today’s 77-month recovery with other post-1960 rebounds after slowdowns that had exceeded twelve months. In the 25 quarters since the Great Recession, Obama’s average, inflation-adjusted annual Gross Domestic Product growth has limped ahead at 2.2 percent. During Ronald Reagan’s equivalent interval, which began in the fourth quarter of 1982, such GDP growth galloped at 4.8 percent.

To avoid mediocrity, Obama need not have outrun the Gipper. He merely had to outpace the average recovery’s 3.9 percent tempo. Alas, as JEC found, “on economic growth, the Obama recovery ranks dead last.”

The total-output gap between Reagan and Obama is a whopping $10.6 trillion. By now, Reagan’s 3.9 percent annual increase in real per capita GDP growth would have put, on average, $8,255 more in every American’s pocket. The average recovery’s 2.8 percent growth would have generated $4,551 more wealth per person. Instead, Obama’s recovery has crawled at half the average speed — just 1.4 percent. “That is the lowest of any post-1960 recovery,” JEC concluded.

Under Reagan, private-sector jobs expanded 23.6 percent, versus the average recovery’s 17.0 percent, and 11.6 percent under Obama — less than half of Reagan’s performance. If Obama had equaled Reagan, America would enjoy some 12.9 million additional private-sector jobs.

November’s 5.0 percent unemployment rate ignores the 94 million Americans over age 17 who have abandoned the job market. The labor-force participation rate is just 62.5 percent (down from 66 in December 2007), barely above the 62.4 percent level in 1977.

The economic stagnation that Bill Clinton critiqued is Obama’s.

Under Reagan, real after-tax income per person grew 3.1 percent, compared with 2.5 percent growth in an average recovery, and 1.2 percent under Obama. Had Obama delivered like Reagan, every American would have accumulated an extra $21,306 since June 2009.

Obama’s 2.2 percent annual GDP growth has been just over half the 4.1 percent yearly hike in federal revenues. Between fiscal years 1965 and 2014, federal receipts averaged 17.4 percent of GDP. The figure for fiscal year 2015 was 18.2 percent. Uncle Sam is fat and happy.

Meanwhile, only 3.6 percent of Americans under 30 own private businesses, a 24-year low, down from 10 percent in 1989. The 14.3 percent poverty rate for 2009 was 14.8 in 2014, the Census Bureau’s latest reading. Sentier Research reports that in 2015 real median household income, $56,700, was right where it was in 2007. America’s middle class has wasted eight years on the road to nowhere.

For this anemia, please thank Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the war on coal, green mandates, a flopped $833 billion “stimulus,” the 35 percent corporate tax (the civilized world’s highest), class warfare, and Obama’s 77 percent national-debt increase — from $10.6 trillion to $18.8 trillion.

Obama and the Democrats typically pin this fine mess on Bush. His compassionate socialism certainly created widespread wreckage. But America hired Obama to change that. If Bush still is to blame, then Obama has accomplished nothing in seven years. As Bill Clinton revealed: Obama is either an economic Typhoid Mary or an economic Rip Van Winkle.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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