That’s right, the president — the president of the United States, mind you — says Americans are better off, they just don’t know it.
That is the height to which the president has raised his level of mendacity. He has the sheer audacity to tell Americans that he has successfully turned the economy around, that things are all good, but that there are no real quantifiable indicators by which they could ever know that.
In fact, Mr. Obama says Americans have never had it so good.
“Over the past 51 months, our businesses have created 9.4 million new jobs,” he said at a feel-good stop in Minnesota. “Our housing market is rebounding. Our auto is booming. Our manufacturing sector is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. We’ve made our tax code fairer. We’ve cut our deficits by more than half. More than 8 million Americans have signed up for private insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act.”
Of course, as usual with the president, none of that is true. In 2007, there were 146.6 million Americans employed. Last month, there were 145.7 million people in the workforce. But it’s all worse than that. The labor force participation rate dropped more than 3 percentage points, which equals nearly 8 million people. Now, just 62.8 percent of working-age Americans hold jobs, a dismal number that’s the lowest in 35 years.
What’s more, Candidate Obama (is he ever anything else?) promised an unemployment rate of 5 percent as the impetus to pass his $1 trillion stimulus plan. While his minions now cooking the books claim the rate is 6.3 percent, millions of Americans have simply fallen out of the workforce — disappeared. The number of “underemployed” — those who want to work full time but can find only a part-time job — is 16 percent, Gallup says.
Post, one of the most Obama-friendly newspapers in the country, recently offered this headline: “Two charts that show why the housing market is off track.” Right now, home sales are running at 2010 levels.
The number of in the auto industry, while rising, is still below those in 2008. That year, there were 880,000 workers in auto manufacturing; today, there are 850,000. Dealers are also down from 1.83 million to 1.82 million. Not bad, but not good — not even treading water.
On the deficit, Mr. Obama fudges the numbers as only he can. He ran a $1 trillion-plus deficit each of his first three years in office. Then in fiscal year 2013, that dropped to $680 billion (so roughly a 32 percent drop). His “cut our deficits by more than half” comes from comparing that number to the deficit he inherited when he took office, $1.4 trillion. He’ll surpass $5 trillion in debt this year, but to him, it’s all good.
“More than 8 million Americans have signed up for private plans through the Affordable Care Act.” While no administration official has ever provided proof of that claim, millions were forced out of their insurance plans. Get it? “Signed up”?
One thing Mr. Obama didn’t mention in Minnesota was the brand new number released on the gross domestic product, a key indicator on the state of the U.S. economy. Obama economic gurus had predicted 2.6 percent growth in the first three months of 2014. When they released a preliminary number, those gurus said the economy had grown by 0.1 percent. When they revised the number last month, it had become a 1.1 percent contraction. And last week, the final number came out: The economy contracted by 2.9 percent.
So despite Mr. Obama’s lofty claims, the economy has done — nothing. In fact, it’s all getting worse — and Americans know it.
Still, he plans events next week pushing the economy and his policies. And there’s only one reason: It’s election time. Maybe Democrats can borrow the president’s brilliant words as their slogan this midterm election: “You’re Off, You Just Don’t Know It.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.