Last November, one year before the presidential election, the US economy was growing at 4.1%. This past Sunday marked 100 days until the election and economic figures released today show the economy has slowed down. For the second quarter of 2012, economic growth was only 1.5% (down from 2.0% in the first quarter).
How much longer must we go on like this? President Obama may have inherited a poor economy, but he has had over three years to implement policies to make it better. If the President’s plans are as great as he claims, we would be seeing correlating great improvement in the economy. The snail’s pace of growth can be attributed as much to the normal business cycle as to anything the administration has done. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich said that if our economic improvement continues at the current rate for the next five years, the US economy would only be back where it was at the start of this recession.*
Unemployment has been between 8.5% and 8.1% since December 2011. (The worst month of unemployment under President George W. Bush was 7.8%.**) The number of jobs created has dropped from 275,000 in January to 80,000 in June. While there has been some growth each of the past six months, columnist Charles Krauthammer says the US needs 250,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with population growth. So the fewer than 100,000 new jobs each of the past three months is really a net loss.
On a recent campaign stop, President Obama compared his administration’s efforts on the economy to the failed efforts over the past 30 years (which, interestingly, include the Clinton years). He said the country has now tried his policies and they are working. This level of “success” is not the kind of achievement that made the US a leader in technology, medicine and other areas. In the business world, such a low level of growth would have gotten President Obama fired. His policies have brought minimal improvement to the US economy while adding record amounts to the federal deficit, which will hold back the economy for years to come.
* “Anderson Cooper 360”, March 9, 2012