President Obama was doing a little jig on the tables last week at the White House – figuratively, or course – when we got a decent jobs and GDP report. Mr. Obama even chided those who would dare question his economic stewardship by saying: “Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the U.S. economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.”
Oh really. Well, you could have fooled the American people. The disconnect between the way Washington and Wall Street describe the state of the economy, and how real Americans feel its impact, is as wide as the Grand Canyon.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 64% of Americans are “dissatisfied” with “the state of the economy” versus only 35% “satisfied.” And 71% of Americans think the country is “on the wrong track.”
Apparently the big boom in the economy President Obama is boasting about hasn’t trickled outside the borders of the Washington Beltway.
Here’s the problem. Nobody believes the statistics out of Washington and often for good reasons. A 2% inflation rate. Ha. Most Americans see the rate of price increases for the things they have to buy – milk, bread, vegetables, medicines, health insurance premiums, college tuitions, gas at the pump – rising at sometimes two to three times faster than the official CPI.
Even more laughable is our headline 6.2% unemployment rate. It’s that low, of course, only because about 5 million Americans have dropped out of the workforce – probably because they aren’t having any success finding a job. The real rate is closer to 12% and Americans know it.
And what about our vaunted 4% GDP growth rate from April through June? That’s a good number for sure, but in the first three months of the year the economy shrank by 2.1%. Oh and the feds lowered the estimates for how much the economy expanded in the previous three years.
For middle class families so far in this recovery, which officially began in June of 2009, real median household income adjusted for inflation has fallen by more than $1,500, according to Census Bureau data. That’s some recovery.
We would have just about $2 trillion more GDP according to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress if this economic recovery had been as strong as the Reagan recovery. In other words, if that money were evenly divided to all families, the typically family would have about $25,000 MORE income to spend every year.
And here’s one more economic statistic that is much worse today than when Mr. Obama entered office. The national debt is $7 trillion higher. This is the Obamanomics spending and borrowing binge hangover. How many decades will it take to pay all this off? That party is over.
Probably the dreariest assessment by Americans in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was that 76% -- or three or four Americans “don’t feel confident” that their children’s generation will be better off than this generation. Yikes. The American Dream appears in big trouble for a lot of Americans after the terrible recession of 2008 and 2009 and the Obama recovery.
In 2009 Joe Biden promised a “summer of recovery” but five years later we are all still waiting for it to arrive. The poll also finds the public hates politicians and the way our political system is working to solve problems. And that’s the least shocking result of all. It turns out people aren’t as dumb as Washington thinks they are.