NEW YORK – Are you better off today economically than you were when President Obama took office in January 2009?
That question remains the litmus test for electoral politics as the U.S. prepares to move into the 2014 mid-term election cycle.
The economic scorecard for President Obama continues to provide reasons for alarm, despite Obama’s renewed attempt to emphasize yet again the plight of the U.S. economy and decline of the middle class.
Amid the most massive welfare state ever created in human history, four of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty, or reliance for at least part of their lives, according to a recent Associated Press report.
Even Obama-supporting Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has acknowledged that terms such as “modest recovery,” “slow recovery” or even “recession” do not describe the economic malaise experienced under Obama’s presidency.
Arguing that the U.S. is in a “low-grade” depression, the liberal economist wrote July 5 that the U.S. economy may have entered “permanent stagnation,” a situation in which “high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal.”
Economist Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital and author of the 2012 bestseller “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy – How to Save Yourself and Your Country” is even less sanguine.
Schiff believes it makes no difference whether Obama replaces Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve with Fed vice chair Janet Yellen, who favors continuing the Fed’s quantitative easing policy, or with former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers, who wants to end it.
“I think the U.S. economy is in trouble regardless of who President Obama chooses, because it’s going to be more of the same policies that have brought the country to the brink of economic ruin,” Schiff said this week.
WND’s independent investigation of 10 key economic measures confirms that economic conditions for millions of Americans have deteriorated substantially under the Obama administration.
Consider the following:
Median household incomes decline under Obama
The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2011 that median household income was $50,054 in 2011, a 1.5 percent decline in real terms from 2010, following a decline from 2009. In 2011, real media household income was 8.1 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession, and was 8.9 percent lower than the median household income peak that occurred in 1999. Real median household incomes have not yet recovered to their pre-2001 recession all-time highs.
Poverty increases as more white families sink into poverty under Obama
Prof. William Julius Wilson at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government explained to NPR that more than half of the 46 million Americans living in poverty in 2011, approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population, were black or Hispanic. While the trend has been long-term, what has changed is that the gap between the affluent and the middle class has widened significantly. A Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau Data published in April showed that from 2009 to 2011, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent.
The Census Bureau reported there were 46.2 million Americans living in poverty in the United States in 2011, the largest number of persons counted as poor in the 53 years of poverty measurements. Further, 6.6 percent of the population, or 20.4 million people, lived in deep poverty, defined as living 50 percent below the poverty line. According to the AP report, 19 million whites fell below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for 41 percent of the nation’s poor, nearly twice the number of poor African-Americans. Yet, while African-Americans represent 13.1 percent of the general population, they represent 27.6 percent of the poor.
More white families face economic insecurity
According to the AP, a new economic index to be published in 2014 by Oxford University Press shows 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60 will face economic insecurity, as defined by a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps, or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.
Food stamp enrollment up 50 percent under Obama
SNAP/Food Stamp participation reached 31.7 million in December 2008 under President George W. Bush, according to data provided by the Food Research and Action Center, or FRAC. SNAP/Food Stamp participation in April 2013 rose to 47.5 million Americans, according to the same source. Data from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 47.6 million Americans enrolled in SNAP/Food Stamps in May 2013.
Discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor force up more than 100 percent under Obama
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, those who have dropped out of the labor force because they have looked for work and have become discouraged they will ever find a job have increased from an annual total of 462,000 in 2008 to 909,000 in 2012.
The monthly total was 988,000 for July 2013, registering a more than 100 percent increase between 2008 and 2013. The peak was reached in 2010, with 1,173,000 listed as discouraged workers who had dropped out of the labor force. The number of workers listed by the BLS as “not in the labor force” for whatever reason has increased on a straight-line graph from 79.5 million Americans in 2008 to 88.3 million in 2012, with the monthly total at 88.6 million in July 2013.
Seven out of eight jobs created under President Obama are part-time
The House Ways and Means Committee reported Aug. 5 that seven out of eight jobs, approximately 88 percent, created under President Obama have been part-time jobs.
“The reality, as you dig into the latest jobs data, reveals that few are finding the full-time work they want and need, and many are forced to accept part-time employment,” the committee said.
The BLS statistics show that under Obama, 1,882,000 part-time jobs have been created, compared to only 270,000 full-time jobs created between January 2009 and July 2013.
Home ownership under Obama is at an 18-year low
The U.S. home-ownership rate that reached a high of 69.2 percent in 2004 is back to where it was 18 years ago in 1995, at 65 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to U.S. Census data.
The U.S. Census Bureau anticipates that the home ownership rate will hit bottom at about 64 percent in 2014 as families leave foreclosures and enter rental homes. The home ownership rate for African-Americans reached a high of 50 percent in the second quarter of 2004, up from about 43 percent in 1995, only to decline in the second quarter of 2013 to 42.9 percent.
Outstanding student loan debt increased 125 percent under Obama, while student loan default rates have climbed steadily since 2008
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student debt totaled $994 billion as of June 30, up from $440 billion in 2008, an increase of 125 percent.
The U.S. Department of Education reported the 2010 three-year cohort default rate on student loans, the last year for which this calculation was available, was 9.1 percent, up from 7 percent for the 2008 three-year cohort.
In September 2012, the Institute for College Access & Success reported there is “overwhelming evidence” that some for-profit colleges are keeping their default rates below the threshold for receiving taxpayer funding. Student loan payments are often postponed while loans are in forbearance, but interest continues to accrue and gets added to the loan balance, making repayment even more difficult. Borrowers in forbearance are not reflected in the college’s cohort default rates.
An Education Sector study published in July, “In Debt and in the Dark,” identified 514 colleges where student loan default rates were higher than graduation rates. Cited in the study was financial aid expert Tim Ranzetta, who proposed that the colleges should post the following disclosure: “Warning: This education can be hazardous to your financial health. At this institution, you have a higher probability of defaulting on your student loan than you do of competing this program.”
The price of regular gasoline has soared nearly 100 percent under Obama
According to the Energy Information Agency, on Jan. 19, 2008, the day after President Obama began his first term in office, the price of regular retail gasoline in the U.S. averaged $1.847 a gallon. The EIA reported that on Aug. 12, 2013, the price of regular retail gas averaged $3.561 a gallon.
EIA statistics show that since Dec. 27, 2010, the price of a regular gallon of gasoline has not fallen below $3 a gallon.
The U.S. national debt has increased more than 50 percent under Obama
Obama’s continued series of annual federal budget deficits in the range of $1 trillion has increased the national debt more than 50 percent since he has been office, from a total of $11.9 trillion in fiscal 2009 to a current estimated total of $18.2 trillion in fiscal 2014.
The amount of federal debt held by the Federal Reserve has doubled under Obama, as the Fed has engaged in a continuing policy of “quantitative easing” under which it has purchased billions of dollars in U.S. Treasury debt, plus agency debt, including mortgage-backed securities.