Democrat Policies: A Troubling Past and a Bad Future

Going from Obama to Clinton would spell continued malaise.

When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, the U.S. was emerging from the recession that began in December 2007. Running 18 months, this was a significant recession, with GDP reaching -8% in 2008 and unemployment peaking at 10% in October 2009, four months after the technical end of the recession. Notably, Democrats seeded that financial crisis with reckless lending policies.

In February 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the “stimulus”) into law, an $830 billion spending spree that was supposed to keep unemployment from rising above 8%. Predictably, it didn’t, because it primarily rewarded favored Democrat constituencies.

Indeed, seven full years later the United States has not fully recovered from the recession, and rather than take responsibility, Obama spent those years blaming George W. Bush. But the severity of the recession wasn’t to blame.

Gross Domestic Product growth has been inconsistent during Obama’s presidency, and averaged slightly above the 2.0% range. And while unemployment finally dropped to respectable territory at 4.9% in January, that must be considered in light of the fact that it’s only that low because more than 90 million Americans aren’t working, many of whom left the workforce when they couldn’t find a job to replace the one they once had. When those people are included in the calculation, the unemployment rate at the end of April was 9.3% (U-6).

The labor force participation rate is the percentage of working-age persons in an economy who are employed, or are unemployed but looking for a job. Today, according to the Bureau of Labor Standards, the participation rate is 62.8%, mired around the lowest level since the 1970s.

Contrast Obama’s dreary results with the last recession that lasted at least 16 months. During Ronald Reagan’s first term, the recession began in July 1981 and ended in November 1982. Under Reagan’s policies the unemployment rate fell from a high of 10.8% in December 1982 to 7.2% in November 1984 — a 3.6-point improvement in 23 months. That’s a striking difference from the 2007 recession, when unemployment peaked at 10.0% and never fell below 8.0% in the first 43 months afterward.

During the Reagan recovery the economy posted a robust 4.8% annualized growth over 23 quarters, according to economist Stephen Moore, and that was more than double the rate during Obama’s tenure.

Where Obama responded to an economic recession with $2 trillion worth of government expansion (more than $1 trillion on health care and $830 million in economic stimulus), Reagan cut marginal income tax rates across the board permanently through the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981: Different approach; different results. Reagan’s results were far better.

A president does not manage the economy in our country, though he can take steps to ease the path for businesses. Instead, Obama, not one to let a crisis go to waste, pursued his manic pledge to “fundamentally transform” the country. He doubled down on reckless environmental policies that since September 2014 have cost 191,000 mining jobs, about 30% of them in the coal industry.

That trend will continue if, through some great misfortune, Hillary Clinton wins in November. Recently, Clinton said, “I’m the only candidate which [sic] has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity — using clean renewable energy as the key — into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

She then visited West Virginia coal country on the campaign trail and faced an out-of-work coal miner who is having trouble taking care of his family in part because of the Obama administration’s punishing policies on mining and burning coal. She answered his complaint about killing the coal industry by insisting that her comment was “out of context” and that she had a plan to help families and individuals who have been put out of work.

Her water carriers at The Huffington Post described that plan: “Hillary Clinton has a $30 billion, 4,300-word plan to retrain coal workers…”

But there are at least two problems. First, in her initial statement she clearly promised to kill coal jobs. For a candidate for president to advocate a policy of deliberately targeting a group of jobs that are legal ought to be disqualifying. Second, Clinton said the focus would be retraining those out of work for new jobs. But just what sort of new jobs would there be in this situation and in a state so terribly wracked by Obama-caused economic woes?

Of Clinton’s plan, West Virginia Coal Association Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton said, “Hillary’s plan is akin to somebody running you over, then offering to pick you up. It’s not a plan. It’s a care package.”

Never mind the total lack of constitutional justification for yet another $30 billion economic plan…

Obama’s policies have inflicted great pain on the nation, and Clinton gives every indication of continuing along a similar line. So much of what liberal Democrats have done and will do is to shove their ideas down our throats, instead of allowing the free market to operate. Why allow freedom when they can issue top-down edicts in a centrally planned economy?

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