Right Opinion

No Thank You, Obama

Stephen Moore · Sep. 20, 2016

Last week, while touting the new Census report on income and poverty in America, Barack Obama took credit for $2 a gallon gasoline, and immodestly shouted to his crowd of supporters: “Thank you, Obama.”

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but given that for eight years your administration has done everything to decapitate the oil and gas industry that gave us low gas prices, sorry: No thanks are in order, Mr. President.

Even more amazing was Obama’s victory lap on the income numbers. Yes, incomes for middle-class families rose by an impressive 5 percent in 2015. And poverty fell. Thank goodness. It’s about time.

But the Census report was anything but cause for celebration. It is a stinging indictment of the policy results of both the George W. Bush and the Obama legacies. They both miserably failed and are equally culpable for the sad state of the American family’s finances today.

Census found that American incomes are lower today (adjusted for inflation) than they were in 2007. What kind of recovery is this, when we still haven’t made up the lost ground from a recession that happened seven years ago? Thank you, Obama.

Even more worrisome is the Census revelation that Americans are poorer today than they were in 2000. In other words, for 15 years, average families have made no progress at all in terms of their personal financial situations. That’s a decade and a half of no growth. That’s sad. The Bush administration has to be held accountable for this malaise, since most of it happened on Bush’s watch. This is a good point to make to the pro-Bush “never-Trumpers,” who keep sanctimoniously denouncing Trump’s policies as reckless. They should look in the mirror.

Other decade-long trends brought to light by the Census report were equally gloomy. We still have more than 43 million Americans in poverty today. About 1 in 7 of our citizens is poor. The absolute number of poor people is so large it is now the equivalent of every resident of California being in poverty. Obama’s record on fighting poverty has been a complete failure. The number of families that are poor grew by 3.2 million since the self-proclaimed savior entered office. Thank you, Obama.

If the poverty rate stood today where it was 15 years ago, we would have 7 million fewer Americans under the poverty threshold.

Why is poverty higher? Two reasons. One is that economic growth has been abysmally low over the last decade. And second: a smaller share of adults are actually working. Getting a job and a paycheck is usually a good way to move out of poverty, but we now have a near-record number of adults who are unemployed. Thank you, Obama.

These numbers are not just worrisome; they are scandalous. They point to a decade of failed policies enacted by our clueless political leaders. As the great Reagan economist Arthur Laffer has put it so aptly, we keep punishing success through taxes and rewarding failure through welfare, and then we wonder why we are getting nothing but failure.

One other depressing statistic is the lack of economic progress for black Americans under Obama. You won’t likely hear this from Black Lives Matter or the NAACP, but blacks have lost ground economically since Obama entered office. Their incomes have fallen by 2 percent. That’s especially disappointing because blacks already have much lower incomes than whites and Asians, so they are falling further behind relatively. Thank you, Obama.

The left’s flimsy explanation for all this slow growth is that this is the best America can do in the 21st century. But Donald Trump put it very well in his economic speech last Thursday at the New York Economic Club when he admonished the liberal policies that have put us in this current state. “This isn’t the best America can do; this is the best they can do,” he explained.

He’s right. Tax cuts, regulatory relief, energy production, school choice and repealing Obamacare will fix these problems and create, as John F. Kennedy put it half a century ago, a rising tide that lifts all boats.

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