Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Obama's Economic Fables

"You wouldn't have come this far without me."

Allyne Caan · Jun. 2, 2016

Lots of things can be considered “shovel-ready.” Manure, for instance. And that’s pretty much what we got with Obama’s speech Wednesday in Elkhart, Indiana, touting the “success” of his $800 billion stimulus package and overall economic policy.

Just weeks after taking office in 2009, Obama visited Elkhart to urge Congress to pass his massive spending plan. At about that time, Elkhart’s unemployment rate had skyrocketed to approximately 20%. Indeed, Obama had found the perfect stage to recite his regular mantra that he “inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.” To fix it, he offered the holy grail of statist solutions — a bigger, more intrusive, more controlling, more burdensome government.

This week, he returned to Elkhart to claim victory: “We … wouldn’t have come this far — Elkhart would not have come this far — if we hadn’t made a series of smart decisions — my administration, a cooperative Congress — decisions we made together early on in my administration.”

To hear Obama tell it, thanks to his policies unemployment has dropped to 4%, industry has revived and businesses are hiring. According to the White House, not only has manufacturing returned to Elkhart, but fewer Indiana homeowners have seriously delinquent mortgages and more kids than ever are graduating high school. We hear the ozone layer directly above Elkhart has also shown improvement!

Of course, as is typically the case with Obama’s claims, they’re high on flourish, low on facts. For example, Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) noted credit goes to “the pro-growth policies pursued by the state of Indiana, which have made our state one of the nation’s economic success stories.”

Indeed, Indiana has repeatedly lowered its corporate tax rate to make the state more attractive to businesses. In 2012, the rate stood at 8.5%; now, it’s 6.5%. By 2022, it will be just 4.9% thanks to reforms passed by Republican state lawmakers and signed by GOP Governor Mike Pence. The personal income tax is going down, too.

And as for the graduation rate, it might just be tied to the education reforms of Republican Governors Pence and his predecessor Mitch Daniels, including dropping out of Obama’s “Race to the Top Bottom” education indoctrination program.

What’s more, when Obama came to town in 2009, Elkhart’s primary industry — the RV industry, which provides more than half the area’s jobs — was in a massive slump. Obama’s solution? Give $39 million in federal stimulus dollars to Navistar International to develop an electric car industry. Navistar predicted it would produce thousands of electric trucks per year and create hundreds of jobs. But as Elkhart’s Republican Mayor Tim Neese diplomatically put it, “That was not nearly as successful as we had hoped.”

Meanwhile, Elkhart’s recovery has far more to do with good state and local policies coupled with a rebound in the RV industry than with Obama’s stimulus dollars funding a government-picked project that proved to be an abject failure. (Almost all of those Obama Bucks went to Democrat-connected cronies, anyway.) As one local manager in the RV industry said, “If the RV industry hadn’t come back like it did, I wouldn’t have the opportunity I have now. … There’s no direct correlation to anything [Obama has] done to help us. We’re not excited about anything he’s done. There’s nothing he’s done to help this industry around here.”

If you really want to see the impact of Obama’s economic policies, Elkhart isn’t the place to look. Instead, look at the crushing federal regulations that amount to $4 trillion in added costs to Americans. Or look at the labor force participation rate that at 62.8% is close to the lowest level since the 1970s. Or look at the sluggish economy that delivers anemic growth as the “new normal.” (While the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% from World War II to 2005, since then, it hasn’t hit 3% in a single year.) Or look at the demise of the coal industry, exacerbated by Obama’s environmental regulations. Or look at the $19 trillion national debt, which has doubled since Obama took office. Or…

The list goes on, and on.

To see Obama’s economic legacy, look at those things, not to Elkhart. Obama has pointed to Elkhart as the “story of America’s recovery.” Thanks to solid state policy and local hard work and perseverance, it may be an American story of recovery, but it’s certainly not Obama’s doing.

In fact, Obama’s legacy may be better defined by his own answer Wednesday to a Carrier employee about why the company’s jobs are moving to Mexico: Some jobs “are just not going to come back.”

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