The Obama campaign, lacking much else to run on, wants to make this election a referendum on who best can help the “middle class.” To bolster his case, he cites various targeted government benefits and programs he supports which hand out taxpayer money to favored groups or activities. But, these government programs do little to support the overall economy, which is the engine of our prosperity. Without robust economic growth, the “middle class” will see its fortunes shrink. This is the first in a series examining how Obama’s policies have harmed the “middle class.”
Appropriately, we’ll begin this series with jobs and employment. A job, after all, is the necessary first rung on the ladder to the middle class. A job provides some measure of financial stability and, more importantly, independence. It is the basic building block of American society. Unfortunately, under Obama, it is becoming an unattainable goal for many people.
In January 2009, when Obama took office, not long before the official end of the recession, there were 11.6 million people unemployed. Last month, there were 12.8 million people unemployed. So, there are 1.2 million more people unemployed than when Obama took office. But, wait, its worse than that, because our population grew over the past three years.
In January 2009, the civilian labor force–the pool of available workers–was 153.7 million. In July, 2012 it was 155 million workers. If employment stayed at the same level as January 09, we would have around 10 million unemployed workers, instead of the 12.8 million we have now. So, in real terms, we have 2 million more unemployed persons than we did when Obama took office.
You can have all your happy talk about jobs created this month or that, but throughout Obama’s term, 2 million more people are unemployed. Keep in mind, this doesn’t count the people that are discouraged and have left the labor force entirely.
And, it isn’t just the top-line jobless number that has deteriorated under Obama. When he took office 2.6 million workers were “long-term” unemployed. Last month, that number had doubled to 5.2 million. When he took his oath of office, 7.8 million workers were in part-time jobs because they couldn’t find full-time work. Last month, that number had grown to 8.2 million.
Again, remember, we had significant population growth over these three and a half years. Not only are we not keeping up with this growth, we’re falling further behind.
So, yes, Obama has a plan for a sprinkling of tax credits. He will use the Treasury to make student loans slightly cheaper. He will continue to trim payroll taxes at the expense of the Social Security trust fund. But, his policies will do nothing to correct the existential threat to our economy; the lack of jobs.
Talk about protecting the “middle class” is cheap. Obama is good at cheap talk. Unfortunately, he’s not so good at supporting policies to help people get there.