Saturday, January 19, 2013
Small Ball: No clean up hitter for Obama on the economy, just placing some runners on the bases
"Instead of hitting home runs, sometimes we’re going to hit singles. But they’re really important singles." Barack Obama by Clifford F. Thies Since November, consumer confidence has tumbled. While, in the months immediate preceding the election, consumer confidence rose up to about neutral, subsequent to the election, it has fallen back to negative. According to Gallup, consumer confidence fell from -10 (where zero is neutral) at the time of the election, to -22 by the end of December. According to the American Research Group, the percent of Americans feeling that the economy was improving rose from 25 percent in July to 45 percent in November, and then fell back down to 35 percent in December. According to an ABC News / Washington Post poll conducted toward the end of December, the percent of Americans feeling pessimistic about economy during the upcoming year was 49 percent. Do the American people feel that they were snookered? During the months leading up to the election, the thrust of economic news seemed to be positive. The unemployment rates was edging down, for example, and the price of gasoline was moderating. But, this news was mostly sloppy reporting, as the unemployment rate was falling more because people were taking part-time jobs when they really wanted full-time jobs than because of job creation. During the election, the President was able to deflect attention from the failures of his own policies, aided in no small way by Bill Clinton. In the words of the Great Adulterer, "Listen to me now, no president, no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years." (Never mind that the an economy with an even higher unemployment rate was turned around within four years during Ronald Reagan's first term in office.) But, with the election concluded, the actual deterioration of economic conditions came more into focus. Yes, the hard times began prior to Obama's taking office, but they have continued through his presidency as well. Since 1999, income adjusted by the cost-of-living index has fallen by about 10 percent for the average household, and by about 15 percent for those in the lowest 20 percent of the income distribution. Whether or not they know the specifics, people are aware of the trend. And, reflexively thinking that wealth is a constant, they suspect that the rich must be getting richer, since the poor are getting poorer (and the middle class is also getting poorer). But, wealth is not a constant, and income is down for the top 20 percent, for the top 5 percent, for the top 2 percent, and for the top 1 percent, even more than for the average household. A continued drift towards socialism greatly accelerated under Obama By reason of the country's drift into socialism that started under Bush and accelerated under Obama, we are becoming poorer. This is perfectly predictable. This is what is supposed to happen. Over the past ten years, we have fallen from #3 in the world in economic freedom to #18, and it is inevitable that our standard of living will fall, as it has been falling. The President was re-elected on the basis that four years is not a long enough period to judge whether socialist economic policies can turn the economy around. For true believers, no matter the total experience of all the countries in all the world's history, there never is enough evidence to prove socialism is a bad idea. So, what do you do when your big ideas - socializing medicine, subsidies to green energy companies, the stimulus (and the TARP before that), and quantitative easing - all fail to turn the economy around? Two years ago, the President described the answer in baseball terms. "Instead of hitting home runs, sometimes we’re going to hit singles. But they’re really important singles." "Really important singles?" But, without a clean-up hitter in the line-up, what does it matter than you place some runners on the bases? Ronald Reagan had a clean-up hitter in the form of supply-side economics, as did the Germans under Konrad Adenauer following World War II and as did Warren Harding following World War I. It's called free-market economics. Cutting tax rates and restraining the growth of spending. While surveys indicate that a majority of Americans today feel that the best days of the country are behind us, and that their children will have a lower standard of living than they have, this need not be the case. But, the American people will have to resist the siren call of Barack Obama and his sycophants in the elite media, and reverse the drift of the country into socialism. Dr. Thies is a professor of economics at Shenandoah Univ. in Virginia.