In February 2009 President Obama rallied the hopes of the country with sweeping promises to reverse the economic landslide the nation was in. This appeal to the desperate needs of the nation ushered in the American Recovery Act (Obama Stimulus), at a pricetag of $787 billion. The Health Care Reform was later passed – under protest – to lower health insurance costs. The nation held their breath and waited.
Fastforward 18 months to today. The Obama Stimulus has cost $862 billion (and still increasing due to Government waste). More than 4.2 million people have lost their jobs. Over 50% of those on unemployment have had it for more than a year. Unemployment has been extended to 99 weeks, with Democrats hoping to extend it further. The national unemployment rate is stagnant at 9.5% – a level that is maintianed by curious Government math.
The unemployment rate is only those that receive an unemployment check. Small business owners (that don’t qualify for unemployment), and those that have used up the extentions fall off the count, to be in a noman’s land of the unemployed that is not recognized. Add to this group the temporary hirings of Census workers (who were often hired for a week, fired for a day, then rehired for another week or month – each hiring being counted as “new” employment), and increases by Government employers and you get 9.5%. Adding any fraction of the above and the unemployment rate runs into double digits.
The response by the Obama Administration and Congress has been to increase spending and to claim success.
Recent spending has been further stimulus packages, given names that are anything but inclusive of the word stimulus. $3 billion proposed to forgive mortgage loans that are in default, to prop up the mortgage industry for a few months. $26 billion to support teachers and unions, just in time for the mid-term elections, until Jan 2011 when further funding will be required. And so on.
But throughout the Obama Administration has publicly stated that the nation is recovering. The Obama Stimulus has been touted as a success. Claims of millions of jobs “saved” hae been made, though those claims only appear via a complex Government math that many dispute. Blame for even further recovery has consistently been placed on the Bush Administration – which has been out of office for 19 months.
Where exactly are the benefits, the success, of the Obama Administration policies? It’s a question that individuals are asking constantly, but elected officials are avoiding and the meida is downplaying. Instead, politicians up for re-election are touting the “saving” of teachers jobs – a temporary offset of a problem gained at the future expense of taking food from those in need and on food stamps.
Why discuss this?
Because with the mid-term elections approaching the reality is being obfuscated by political ads and ommissions by elected politicians. Because continuation of the economic policies provide no reasonable expectation of improving the situation. Because preparation for worse can only be attained if an understanding of what is to come is understood.
Nature abhors a vacuum, economies uncertainty. With no certainty on how high taxes will go, or how much borrowing will be used for smaller yet constant Stimulus packages, it is certain that things will not improve form current levels. Even the complete reversal of power in Congress will not ensure an immediate improvement in the economy. Therefore, preparation is the only reasonable outcome.
The nation no longer is in a landslide. Instead it finds itself in a quagmire. The difference is subtle, outside of Washngton D.C. politics. But the chance to find solid footing looks to be a long way away, no matter the number of cheerful speeches made.