Tuesday, May 17, 2011


"This is completely wrong. Extremely and mind-bogglingly wrong. Epically wrong."

In a way I feel sorry for President Obama as he tries to kick off a reelection campaign while faced with a weak economy and high unemployment. The president has tried several different tactics to spin this in his favor, such as a recent weekly address in which he spoke of how the Obama Economy is affecting people:
That’s important because even as the economy is growing after one of the worst recessions in our history; even as we’ve added more than 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months; I still meet and hear from Americans struggling to get out of their own personal recessions.
President Obama is right; some people are suffering from a recession still even though technically the long recession ended a few quarters ago. In cities like El Centro, California and Yuma Arizona, unemployment is well over 20%. Meanwhile in cities such as Lincoln Nebraska and Bismark North Dakota, the rate is under 5%.

The fact that red states with more conservative governments tend to have lower unemployment while blue states with hard left governments tend to have higher unemployment is not coincidental.

And as John Hindracker notes at Powerline, blacks have been the hardest hit, with more black men unemployed now than at any time in American history:
[T]he percentage of black males over 20 who are currently employed dropped slightly to 56.9, the Labor Department's April report shows. For whites, the equivalent figure is 68.1 percent. Before this recession, the percentage of black adult men with a job had never dropped below 60 percent, according to Labor Department statistics.
Personal recessions can take place in different sectors of the economy as well. President Obama also recently tried to explain why unemployment has been so rough. Jim Geraghty at National Review Online notes:
CBS’s Mark Knoller, covering a town hall on the economy with the president this morning, reports: “President Obama blames high unemployment rate on ‘huge layoffs of government workers’ at federal, state and local levels.”
In truth, government jobs have increased dramatically over the last two years even as public sector jobs have plunged. The image at the top of this piece (click to enlarge) shows this divergent pattern. As you can see, government jobs are fairly recession-proof and have continued to march upward and the only "mass layoffs" were temporary census jobs.

The truth is, almost all of the people suffering from a "personal recession" are people who don't work for government. President Obama's position is not hard to work out, he wants to portray cuts in government as bad for the economy and the cause of problems rather than the solution to crushing debt loads that states are staggering under.

It isn't just the economy that President Obama thinks is hurt by government job losses, either. At that same Town Hall, President Obama had this to say:
Let me just first of all say that workers like you, for the federal, state, and local governments, are so important for our vital services. And it frustrates me sometimes when people talk about ‘government jobs’ as if somehow those are worth less than private sector jobs. I think there is nothing more important than working on behalf of the American people.
For the president, government jobs are more important than your job for a private company. To him, losing a job at Al's Hardware isn't as bad as a bureaucrat losing a job at a trimmed-back government agency.

And this perception is a deep part of the president's worldview. Look at that quote at the top where he tries to take credit for jobs created under his administration. Putting aside the truth or falsehood of that claim, president Obama says that the government created those jobs. No, mister president, private sector businesses created those jobs, despite a hostile business climate and uncertain future.

President Obama is right that people are suffering personal recessions, even if the official economic data says the recession has ended. Where he's wrong is why and where. Because if he admitted how it came about, why, and where people are hardest hit, that only damages his reelection chances.

*This originally ran at the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone.

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