Some of my harder-Left friends on Facebook are going crazy with posters again, so I thought this would be a good time to deconstruct a few of them. Let’s start with this one, which requires its own post. (Incidentally, the fact that it takes just one sentence to spin out a series of lies and a sadly long post to deconstruct all these lies explains why Progressives get away with so many lies: Everyone will read a short poster; few will read a long post.)
In the above poster, Occupy Democrats takes on the contention that President Obama has weakened America (a claim made by all Republican candidates, not just Trump). To challenge this assertion, OD contends that Obama’s list of accomplishments includes “tripling the stock market, cutting the unemployment and uninsured rates in half, cutting the Bush deficit by three-fifths, saving the auto industry, ending two wars, and getting bin Laden.” Let me take these claimed accomplishments one at a time:
1. “tripling the stock market” — It is absolutely true that, on Obama’s watch, the stock market has climbed (although it recently un-climbed a great deal too). It hasn’t been a healthy climb, but its basic trend has been upwards:
What Leftists don’t grasp, though, is that the stock market’s growth is pretty much unrelated to the overall economic picture. We assume that America’s economic health and the Dow Jones industrial average go hand-in-hand. If one is up, the other will be, right? When business is booming, people want to jump into the stock market because they believe that companies offering good products or services will appreciate in value, something that will be reflected in both dividends and share prices.
Well, not really, In fact, as The Guardian already said back in 2013, the stock market and the economy are not the same thing. While they often march in tandem, they can part ways rather spectacularly during bad economic times. Even Obama’s good friend, the Huffington Post, figured out back in 2013, when the Dow was ascending madly, that America can simultaneously have a lousy economy and a good stock market:
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 125.95 points on Tuesday to close at at 14,253.77, breaking its previous high close of 14,164.53 set on October 9, 2007. The Dow has recovered all of its losses from the financial crisis and recession, gaining 119 percent from its low in March 2009, making this the third-strongest bull market for the Dow since World War II.
Though the Dow has erased its memories of the crisis, many households aren’t so lucky: Neither jobs nor wages have regained their pre-crisis highs. Home prices are still nearly 26 percent below their level when the Dow last peaked, and about 14 million homeowners were underwater on their mortgages, at last check.
The job market has recovered only 5.5 million of the 8.7 million jobs lost during the recession, making this the worst labor-market recovery since World War II.
With the job market weak, worker wages have stagnated. Inflation-adjusted average income is 8 percent lower than in 2007, when the Dow was at its previous high, notes Quartz’s Matt Phillips. Nothing illustrates the disconnect between regular people and the stock market better than the chart above, showing how profits and stocks have skyrocketed together, leaving hourly earnings in the dust.
Higher stock prices do benefit the wealthy and wage-earners who own stock in their retirement plans. That could bolster the mood of consumers, which could benefit the economy. But after two stock-market crashes in the past 13 years and technological glitches like the Flash Crash of 2010 and the botched Facebook IPO, investors could be skeptical that the good times will last. Though they have been rushing back into the stock market lately, writes the Wall Street Journal, they may not be quite ready to run out and spend a bunch of extra money because of the Dow high. If they have any extra money to spend, that is.
Other, broader market measures still have a ways to go to reach their records. At Tuesday’s close of 1539.79, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was still about 25 points away from its record high of 1565.15, also set on October 9, 2007. And the tech-stock-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 3224.13, still light years away from its record high of 5048.62, set on March 10, 2000, back in its dot-com glory days.
Those indices are better indicators of the stock market as a whole. Though the Dow is better known, and claims “to provide a clear, straightforward view of the stock market and, by extension, the U.S. economy,” it has some big flaws.
It is made up of just 30 stocks, for one thing, meaning some very important companies get left out, and other, less-important companies get undue influence. And it’s bizarrely weighted by stock price, regardless of how big or important a company is.
In other words, the Dow Jones industrial average is an incredibly narrow and often hugely inaccurate measure of America’s overall economic health. The reality is that America’s economic health is weak. We’re not on life support, but we’re close. If you really want to know what’s going on in the economy, Zero Hedge gives a much more honest picture and, lately, it’s never a good one. A few examples suffice:
On Friday morning, the Feds published a 1.4% Q4 GDP growth figure. That’s bad. Really bad. But Durden warns that worse, much worse, is to come. The stock market is irrelevant to the more important GDP figures.
Wolf Richter, posting at Zero Hedge, points out that the entire world’s output is lousy: “In terms of prices per unit expressed in US dollars, world trade dropped 3.8% in January from December and is down 12.1% from January a year ago, continuing a rout that started in June 2014. Not that the index was all that strong at the time, after having cascaded lower from its peak in May 2011.”
Indeed, over at Barron’s, the truth comes out: the stock market has nothing to do with anything other than Fed manipulations. (H/t: Zero Hedge.)
2. “cutting the unemployment and uninsured rates in half” — Regarding the unemployment rate, one constantly needs to remind Leftists that the only reason Obama’s official unemployment rate is down is because our workforce has shrunk so dramatically. The federal and state unemployment numbers don’t count the people who have given up. They’re definitely unemployed, but they’re statistically invisible. The only place that you get a sense of those invisible non-workers is through the dramatic increase in the number of people on food stamps. There are fewer people on food stamps than there were in 2014, but there are still many more than there were in 2008.
Although the poster is vague about what “uninsured” rates it’s talking about, but I assume it means medical uninsured. Again, that’s an interesting claim, which misses the important parts of the real healthcare story in America. Before Obamacare passed, excluding illegal immigrants (who were not supposed to benefit from Obamacare), the number of uninsured Americans hovered around 15%, give or take. The uninsured rate dropped to 11.9% by the end of 2015, for a change of roughly 3% (again, give or take).
The quid pro quo for that ~3% change was that American healthcare got much more expensive and left Americans less happy than before. People with coverage they loved (a) lost their coverage; or (b) found themselves paying vastly increased premiums, often for coverage they didn’t need or want; or (c) found themselves facing heinous deductibles; or (d) lost their doctors and hospitals; or (e) some combination of all of the above. In addition, not only did the change
In addition, not only did the post-Obamacare changes put the lie to Obama’s promise that his law would bend the cost curve down, the changes drove dramatic growth in an industry that Leftists claimed already occupied too large a percentage of the American economy. Average Americans saw most of their money in 2015 go to healthcare — which is the complete opposite of what Obama brazenly promised.
So, for a tiny change in coverage (mostly attributable to increased Medicaid expansion), ordinary Americans got the opposite of everything Obama promised. I wouldn’t boast about that if I were a Progressive.
3. “cutting the Bush deficit by three-fifths” — Obama and friends constantly boast about his brilliance in having cut the deficit. As with the boasts about the stock market and health care, these colorful political fairy tales are of interest only to the economically ignorant and illiterate.
To begin with, deficit and debt are not the same thing. The deficit looks at the difference between the government’s annual tax collections and it’s annual spending. If our government were a good financial manager, it would take in more than, or the same amount as, it spends annually. Since it is a bad manager, it invariably spends more than it receives, with the annual negative dollar amount being called the deficit. Every year, that deficit gets added to the national debt.
With that basic economic definition in place, I’ll turn to The Blaze, which has a good summary of all the facts hiding behind Obama’s “smaller deficit” boast (although it ignores the main fact, which is that the government’s massive stimulus spending spree when the recession first hit, a spending spree driven by a Democrat Congress, got tacked onto Bush’s spreadsheet, rather than onto Obama’s, where it more rightly belongs. Anyway, here’s The Blaze’s analysis:
1) The Annual Budget Deficit is Falling, but It’s Still Big, and It’s Still Adding to the Total National Debt.
The budget deficit is the amount that the government spends over its annual collection of taxes. Yes, it has fallen — it was $1.4 trillion in 2009, and was $483 billion in 2014.
But that $483 billion is huge. For example, it’s just a bit lower than the entire Defense budget for the current fiscal year. And that still adds to the national debt, which now stands at $18 trillion.
2) Obama’s Lowest Budget Deficit is Still Higher Than George W. Bush’s Biggest Deficit.
President Bush was seen by many as a big spender who squandered a rare budget surplus. But according to the Office of Management and Budget, Bush’s highest annual budget deficit was $458 billion.
That’s still $25 billion less than Obama’s lowest deficit: $483 billion in the just-finished 2014 fiscal year, and several years into what Obama himself has called an economic recovery.
So for all of Obama’s boasting this week, Obama still hasn’t managed to preside over a deficit that’s lower than Bush’s highest deficit.
3) Real Credit for the End of $1 Trillion-plus Budget Deficits Belongs to the End of the Great Recession, and Renewed Republican Pressure to Keep Spending Down.
Bush and Obama together created the huge, $1.4 trillion deficit that emerged in 2009, thanks to the bank and auto bailouts under Bush, and the huge stimulus and extended auto bailouts under Obama.
As the crisis receded, it was House Republicans that finally forced some spending reductions through passage of the Budget Control Act. That pressure from the House led to reduced overall spending for two years in a row, in 2012 and 2013.
That, combined with a growing economy and growing tax revenues over those years, nearly cut the budget deficit in half by 2013.
4) Obama Was Opposing Those Spending Reductions Year After Year.
While House Republicans were putting their foot down on spending, Obama was proposing even more spending in his annual budget proposals.
Since 2011, Obama has proposed spending between $3.7 and $3.8 trillion each year, more than $200 billion more per year than what was actually spent in those years. Those proposals fly in the face of Obama’s boast that his own actions are helping to reduce the deficit.
A few of Obama’s budget proposals received votes in the House and were rejected unanimously, by both Republicans and Democrats.
5) Obama Has Rejected GOP Proposals to Eliminate the Deficit and Start Paying Down the Debt.
In 2012, when some Republicans were proposing a plan to balance the budget in 10 years, GOP members argued that none of Obama’s plans would ever balance, and that Obama was rejecting any attempt to finally balance the budget.
That charge is confirmed by Obama’s own budget documents. His budget proposal for 2015 foresees deficits that average $500 billion per year for the next decade, a recipe for adding $5 trillion more to the national debt over that time period.
That assumes very optimistic increases in tax receipts that Obama assumes would increase $200 or $300 billion per year.
6) Other Analysts Say the Deficit is About to Get Worse.
About those optimistic estimates on tax receipts? They’re not shared by the Congressional Budget Office.
CBO says the government will collect $40.2 trillion over the next decade, not the $43.8 trillion Obama anticipates.
And that means annual trade deficits that won’t stay in the $500 billion range, as Obama hopes. Instead, CBO sees the deficit rising again to more than $600 billion by 2019, and nearly $1 trillion by 2024.
7) Total National Debt Will Nearly Double Under Obama.
When Obama took office, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. As of January 2015, it stood at just over $18 trillion.
If the budget deficit stays around $500 billion a year for the next two years, as expected, total debt will exceed $19 trillion by the time Obama leaves office.
4. saving the auto industry — Okay, I’m a bit confused by this “saving the auto industry” bit. I thought the stimulus that saved the auto industry started during the Bush administration (see the bit about “debt” and “deficit,” above). What did Obama do? Well, that’s kind of unclear. The most interesting answer I came across is from PolitiFact, which is not a Republican-friendly “fact” checker.
We ask, did President Obama really save American auto makers? This is more a matter of opinion, and not an item for the Truth-O-Meter, but we can still shine some light on the question.
In broad strokes, the answer is yes, but with some help from the other party and with one huge unknown — no one can say what would have happened without massive government intervention. We spoke with a number of analysts and read many independent reports. There is no question that General Motors and Chrysler are profitable today. But so is Ford, a company that received no financial aid at all. The jobs have returned — although not nearly at the level they were before the industry began its steep decline in 2007.
Without a doubt, the American auto industry emerged smaller and more competitive.
In the words of the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel that assessed the impact of the government’s efforts: “The industry’s improved efficiency has allowed automakers to become more flexible and better able to meet changing consumer demands, while still remaining profitable.”
Barack Obama, however, cannot claim full credit for this outcome. According to several experts, he needs to share it with his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Dr. James Rubenstein at Miami University co-wrote a post-bankruptcy assessment for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Rubenstein said no one should overlook the importance of Bush’s decision to use $17.6 billion in TARP money in December 2008 to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat.
“The Bush Administration provided short-term bridge loans,” Rubenstein said. “That allowed the Obama Administration to take a couple of months to assess the situation.”
Aaron Bragman, the lead American automotive analyst for the financial forecasting group IHS Automotive, echoed the point. “The Bush administration is the one that actually acted to save them from an uncontrolled bankruptcy and shutdown,” Bragman said. “The Obama administration’s role was to fix them.”
In other words, the Bush administration threw out the life saver, the Obama administration added to that, and (as Ford shows, since it didn’t get any stimulus money), it was simply that the car industry made more intelligent market decisions that allowed it to swim to shore.
5. “ending two wars” — Well, yes, Obama did pull out from Iraq and he’s been slowly drawing down in Afghanistan. Thanks to his premature pull out, though, the entire war is watching a slo-mo conflagration brought about by the rise in extremism on his watch. Put another way, Obama ended two regional wars, thereby sparking World War IV (WWIII was the Cold War).
Why do I say that? I did the math. Here’s what I added up: The Iraq pull-out, which created a vacuum for ISIS and affiliated groups (“ISIS & CO.”); the disastrous decision to destabilize Libya, which created a vacuum for ISIS & CO.; the disastrous decision to withdraw from Obama’s own red-line in Syria, which created a vacuum for ISIS & CO. and triggered the massive refugee and terrorist influx into Europe, which in turn is triggering an escalating series of European blood baths. . . . well, if I were Obama or one of his friends, I wouldn’t be boasting about him ending wars, that’s all I can say.
Taking all that into account, all I can say is that, if I were Obama or one of his friends, I wouldn’t be boasting about him ending wars. As one of his opponents, I would say that the more accurate statement is that Obama has an awful lot of war — worldwide war — on his conscience.
6. “getting bin Laden” — Osama bin Laden was a spent force by the time Obama finally got up the courage to order the military to take him out. The reality was that a cowardly Obama repeatedly baulked at the risk of political fall-out associated with his military’s attempts to “get” bin Laden. It was only when he figured the politics were probably on his side that he ordered brave SEALS to do the actual dirty work. Indeed, it mostly appears that Obama’s sole role vis-a-vis bin Laden was to get Valerie Jarrett’s permission to act.
And while I’m on the subject, let me throw in a bonus Stupid Leftist Poster:
Again, Obama didn’t do jacksh*t. The military that he’s derided, defunded, and demoralized did it, and our military did it despite insults, lack of funds, and the administration’s bizarre, obsessive focus on gays, transexuals, transgenders, white privilege, and getting a handful of women in the frontline.
I really dislike the Left.