O’s mission failure
The man who said in 2009 that “if I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition” had better believe in the audacity of hope yet again: the hope that he was wrong.
To say Barack Obama hasn’t gotten “this done” is putting it mildly — if by “this” you mean an economy that is providing sufficient employment, sufficient opportunity and sufficient momentum for a populous nation that needs a certain level of growth in all these areas every month just to keep pace with the number of new workers who enter the playing field.
I don’t say this flippantly. The whole concept of the “social safety net” is that government should provide assistance to help those suffering from the immediate practical consequences of a problematic economy.
Food stamps aren’t supposed to be a permanent form of relief. They exist to help those in crisis (and to pour government dollars into the pockets of food-processing companies).
So it stands to reason that food stamps are more in use today than ever: We have more people out of work for longer periods of time than at any point since the Great Depression.
More than 46 million people in the United States are availing themselves of them.
That is more than a tragedy; it’s a horror.
The president who said, as he did a couple of months ago, that “the private sector is doing just fine” — when it is the private sector’s inability to employ so many that has led to this horror — is a man who has chosen to blind himself to the horror he has helped to perpetuate with his ill-designed and ill-conceived policies.
All the signs suggest very little is going to improve until the end of the year — indeed, things may be getting worse.
Yesterday came news that US factory orders in June fell by half a percentage point. The early indications are that the number will prove to be almost exactly the same for July, with almost no hope for a turnaround in the coming months. Key portents suggest the manufacturing sector is now shrinking outright.
The weakening global economy, led by Europe’s slow-motion but steady collapse, is taking a sustained toll on the United States. China is decelerating. Hundreds of millions are without power in India, which will certainly have a depressive effect on its activity in weeks to come.
Low interest rates here at home were theoretically supposed to serve as a spur to new investment in manufacturing and the restocking of inventories, since they make doing all that much cheaper. But the decline in foreign markets has made new spending pointless at the moment.
“I don't see anything that suggests any major change over the next couple months,” said Bradley Holcomb, the chairman of the panel that measures manufacturing activity.
The jobs numbers from July show a significant gain from June’s, but at the same time the unemployment rate rose from 8.2 to 8.3 percent .
Urban centers are feeling the worst of it. The Labor Department reported yesterday that unemployment rates rose in 332 large metropolitan areas — and declined in only 29.
We’re now five years into our economic woes, with the mild recovery of 2010-2011 now giving way to something that looks perilously like stasis. Like Japan.
“The recession which kicked off Japan’s ‘lost decade’ lasted from 1991 to 1993,” notes Michael Feroli, an economist at JP Morgan. “Including the recovery experience from that recession is sobering: We are currently faring worse than Japan at the same point in their lost decade.”
Three months and four days to go, Mr. One-Term Proposition. We can only engage in the audacious hope that the change to follow isn’t too little, too late.