OPINION — The U.S. is in the midst of “a remarkably positive set of economic circumstances,” according to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Our economy is so good right now that Democrats have stopped bad-mouthing what Republicans have done to boost the economy over the past two years. Instead now they want to take credit for the dramatic improvement.
Barack Obama is the usurper-in-chief. He’s seen his legacy of over-the-top regulations and Obamacare’s individual mandate and tax increases dismantled by the Trump administration.
Worse yet for Obama, Republicans’ potent combination of deregulation and tax cuts has boosted the economy far beyond what he and his advisors claimed was possible. So what’s a fellow to do when his policies fell so far short?
At the University of Illinois in September, Obama had the gall to claim “when you hear about how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.”
Actually he’s technically correct: The current recovery started in the summer of 2009. But it limped along for eight years under an increasing tax and regulatory burden, growing far more slowly than any previous recovery from a major recession.
In another display of chutzpah, Obama talked out of both sides of his mouth at Rice University last month. He took credit for significant oil and gas production increases during his presidency while praising the Paris Accords that would require lower fossil fuel consumption.
A delusional Obama said, “You wouldn’t always know it but [production] went up every year I was president. That whole, suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer and the biggest gas – that was me, people.”
He failed to mention that almost all that increased oil and gas production came from private and state lands. His administration did all it could to limit exploration on federal land.
Let’s test Obama’s claim that he’s responsible for today’s economic boom. Compare his last 21 months in office – when the economy reflected over six years of his policies – with Trump’s first 21 months in office.
During Obama’s last 21 months, gross domestic product grew at an anemic 1.5 percent rate. Growth doubled to a 3 percent rate in Trump’s first 21 months. This will be the first year since 2005 with a full calendar year of 3 percent or better growth.
So what caused the abrupt change? Deregulation coupled with individual and business tax cuts inspired consumers to buy and businesses to invest. That powerful combination has worked every time it’s been tried. Tax-and-spend Democrats seem to be a little slow on the uptake.
Obama correctly notes that the country’s unemployment rate dropped steadily through his eight years. But underappreciated is the fact that for the first time in decades the labor force participation rate also dropped during his tenure.
Far too many who couldn’t find jobs in Obama’s halting recovery stayed out of the workforce. Once people stop looking for work, they aren’t counted as unemployed. Voila, the unemployment rate dropped.
Why did they stop looking for work? They took advantage of Obama’s loosened eligibility for government welfare, choosing generous benefits over returning to the workforce. The number of those receiving food stamps and disability insurance increased dramatically during the Obama years.
Democrats would rather sweeten welfare benefits than grow the economy.
Contrast that with today’s growing labor force participation. New job openings have increased an average of 75,000 per month over the last 21 months. They increased a paltry 900 per month during the preceding 21 months.
The total number of job openings today is the highest since 2000. Attractive jobs are opening up all over a booming economy.
This impressive surge in job openings occurred when employment was already at a record high. During Obama’s last 21 months, employment increased 157,000 per month. Under Trump and the Republicans, it’s averaged 214,000 per month.
Since March of this year – for the first time ever – the number of job openings exceeds the number of unemployed. As of September, there were 1 million more openings than job seekers.
Unemployment has never been as low as it is today for African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and people with only a high-school education. Women’s unemployment is at a 65-year low; for teenagers, a 50-year low.
The Republican economy is creating prosperity for every class and color of people.
How about wages? During Obama’s last 21 months, average weekly earnings rose $1.31 each month. In Trump’s 21 months, weekly earnings have gone up $1.84 each month and since tax reform started in January, they’ve gone up $2.31 each month.
Workers today are averaging $12 a week higher wages under Trump than they would have under Obama. That’s over $600 a year: it adds up and is only going to get better.
In 2012, Obama infamously said, “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Today, the American people can respond, “We’ve got an economy – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
That somebody else is Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.
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