Obama is basing his reelection campaign on some strange fantasy that he and his policies are better positioned to “protect” the middle class. I say fantasy because by just about every measure, the middle class has done worse since he took office. His rhetoric may favor the middle class, but his policies decidedly do not.
Yesterday, the Census Bureau reported that the median income in the U.S., adjusted for inflation had fallen to $50,054, a 4.1 percent drop since Obama took office. This is the lowest level in median income since 1995, almost two decades ago. The American middle class has effectively given back all their economic gains since Bill Clinton was ending his first term.
It is important to remember that the recession officially ended in June 2009, shortly after Obama took office. So, even though we’ve been in “recovery” for over three years, the economic situation remains bleak and the middle class fall further behind.
The main culprit is the lack of any real economic growth. The economy is essentially in idle, which, although you don’t make any progress, continues to burn gas and add wear-and-tear on the engine. An economy that stays on idle too long will eventually fall back into recession.
The problem for the middle class isn’t Obama’s intentions or rhetoric. The problem is his policies. His stimulus program was almost perfectly designed to spend $1 trillion with the least impact on the economy. A too large chunk of the money simply went to plug holes in the budgets of state and local governments. One can argue whether this is advisable as a temporary measure, but it certainly does nothing to spur economic growth. It merely applies a bandage to a gapping wound.
Add to this the fiscal uncertainty over tax rates and the unknown consequences of ObamaCare and regulatory changes and it isn’t hard to understand why the economy is stalled. Obama’s responses to the economic crisis haven’t been to spark growth, but, rather, to help people cope with the lack of growth. A tax credit here a benefit adjustment there.
For the past couple of weeks, the Obama campaign has strenuously avoided the question “are you better off than 4 years ago.” It is easy to see why. The middle class earns less than it did when he took office. Its doubtful they want to sign up for another four years of falling income.