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America, is Obama's weak leadership really the best we can do?

Amid the Obama administration's celebration last week of the anniversary of the death of Usama bin Laden, reality intruded with yet another dismal employment report. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics dutifully reported Friday that the economy created roughly 115,000 new jobs in April, far below what was projected. 

The Obama economy continues to plod along with no relief in sight.  

It’s difficult to know what’s harder to take, Obama’s constant excuses that this is the best we can do, or the willingness of so many of America's liberal elites to actually believe it.   

Obama is constantly reminding us that he inherited the “worst economy since the Great Depression.” But if that is true, history tells us our recovery should be that much stronger. 

Yet since the recession ended in the summer of 2009, the U.S. economy has added only 2.6 million new jobs, according to the total civilian non-farm employment monthly survey, even though total employment is still 4 million below the end of 2007. 

The seemingly improving unemployment rate, reported Friday at 8.1%, is creeping downward only because millions of Americans are leaving the workforce, too discouraged to look for jobs.  The civilian participation rate of potential workers over 16 years of age is down to 63.6%, a level we haven’t seen for decades.

Three years into Obama’s “recovery,” economic growth is averaging a miniscule 2 percent.  The president’s puny recovery has been devastating for all Americans, including young people and minorities who can’t find jobs as well as seniors who rely on badly under-funded programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Good intentions are not a substitute for a strong and growing economy.

Perhaps most frustrating is that we have a proven historical model, enacted by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s, that creates jobs and grows the economy – one that our current president chooses to ignore.

Like President Obama, President Reagan also inherited an economic mess, which was worse in several ways from 2009, given the double digit inflation that was literally eating away the assets of every American family.  

Yet Reagan’s economic recovery began just two years after he took office. 

Reagan cut taxes, reduced domestic discretionary spending, and cut back regulations – and the economy took off. He would say that he simply removed the restraints, and the American people did the rest.

From January, 1983 through the end of his first term, the economy created 7 million new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. 

If we look at January 1983 through the end of 1985 – a three-year period comparable to Obama’s recovery since 2009 – the number of jobs that Reagan’s policies created rises to 9.5 million. Compare that to Obama’s 2.6 million. Reagan’s recovery is even more remarkable given the smaller economy and lower jobs base in the 1980’s.

Further, economic growth averaged 6% for the first two years after Reagan’s recovery, three times Obama’s level. Reagan’s policies also squeezed inflation out of the system, bringing it down to more historic and manageable levels.

It is rare that we have such a laboratory of real world experience to weigh the results of two presidents and two distinct sets of policies. On the one hand, President Reagan implemented a model of tax cuts, spending cuts and deregulation, which led to a drastic economic recovery.

President Obama, on the other hand, has raised taxes, gunned federal spending through the roof, and larded on hundreds of new regulations with the passage of Obama Care, Dodd Frank and the EPA. His policies have spurred anemic job creation, as April’s jobs numbers indicate, and insufficient economic growth. The Reagan and Obama policies could not be more different, and the outcomes speak for themselves.
   
Former Massachusetts governor, and Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has it right when he decries what Obama’s economic policies have brought us. His own goals of 4% unemployment and 500,000 new jobs per month are ambitious but attainable. 

Of course, the hand wringers in the media immediately pronounced his goals “impossible” because they believe Obama’s nonsense about limitations. Remember they also dismissed Newt Gingrich’s pledge to reduce gasoline prices, presumably because if Obama can’t do it, it just can’t be done.  

Romney is right to set high goals. Will the media criticize him if job creation “only” reaches, say, 400,000? Compared with Obama's record it is a welcome return to the optimism that characterized the Reagan years. Mitt Romney understands President Reagan’s example: that with the right policies, the economy can perform far better than the last three plus dismal years.

Not even Obama’s strongest supporters believe we will do much better if he’s reelected this November. Does anyone believe Obama’s policies will create 12 million jobs like Reagan did in his second term? 

America knows what we can expect from four more years of President Obama. He’ll tell us how terrible Republicans are, but does not give us any reason to hope that things will change for the better.

We must ask, is this the best we can do? With President Obama’s commitment to big-government, big-regulation policies of the left, it is the best he can do. But Americans know we as a country we can do better.   

Frank Donatelli is the Chairman of GOPAC, an organization dedicated to educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders. He previously served as Political Director for President Ronald Reagan.