Jewish World Review Oct. 19, 2012/ 3 Mar-Cheshvan, 5773
Obama's economic spin: a new pony or manure?
By Jonah Goldberg
It was arguably
In fact, the joke took on a life of its own in the Reagan White House. Whenever bad news came in, someone would remark, "There's got to be a pony in there somewhere."
On the stump and in the recent debates, the president has been taking credit for things that are symptoms of a bad economy and touting them as major accomplishments.
Obama boasts that illegal immigration is the lowest it's been in decades, but he leaves out that, in the words of the
Obama boasted at the Fordham debate Wednesday night that his policies "lowered our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years." And it's true they're the lowest in 16 years.
One reason for that is an explosion in domestic oil production on private lands thanks to the technological breakthrough of hydraulic "fracking," an industry the Obama administration has been slowing down with increased regulations. This is the biggest driver of the decline in net oil imports, and President Obama has no business taking credit for it. Fossil fuel production on federal lands, notes economist
And, to be fair, another reason for the decline is the longstanding trend of increasing energy-efficiency standards, which Obama supports. Energy expert
And then, of course, there's the unemployment rate. When the statistically odd drop in the unemployment rate for September was announced earlier this month, the president raced around the country celebrating the fact that we'd finally dropped below 8 percent unemployment. And you can hardly blame him.
But the reality is that the unemployment rate is only as "low" as it is because millions of Americans have given up looking for work. If you give up looking for work, you're no longer counted as part of the labor market. In other words, if everyone just gave up hope of finding a job, the unemployment rate would be zero!
The actual state of the labor market is miserable. More than 12 million Americans are out of work, and that number becomes 23 million if you include people who've stopped looking or can't find full-time work. The labor participation rate is the lowest it's been since the recession of 1981.
A few months ago, I wrote a column on how there were some silver linings to the dark cloud of a lousy economy, on the grounds that bad times often encourage good habits. Americans have been paying down their debts, building up their savings and having their tattoos removed -- all thanks in part to the bad economy and the financial crisis of 2008.
But there's something distinctly creepy about looking at the symptoms of a lousy economy and preening how you meant to do that. It makes you wonder if someone gave Obama a pony he'd shout with glee: "Yay! There must be some manure in here somewhere!"
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