NEW YORK – On a day in which the international news cycle was dominated by the Islamic terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, President Obama traveled to Wayne, Michigan, to deliver a pre-arranged speech celebrating his rescue of the U.S. auto industry.
Ironically, the Ford Assembly Plant that Obama visited is closed temporarily this week because of lack of demand for the small cars and hybrids the plant produces, with 2014 sales of the Ford Focus down 6 percent and the C-Max hybrid down 22 percent.
In his tour of the Ford plant, Obama sat for a minute in a red Mustang and then emerged to declare “this is an American car, right here, this Mustang. That’s beautiful.”
In his speech to an enthusiastic crowd at the assembly plant, Obama asserted America’s “resurgence is real – don’t let anybody tell you otherwise,” echoing his 2012 campaign mantra that “Osama Bin Laden is dead, but General Motors is alive and well.”
“Last year, 2014, was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s,” Obama said. “We’ve now had a 57-month streak of private sector job creation. We’ve created nearly 11 million new jobs. That’s the longest stretch in our history of private sector, uninterrupted job creation.”
In a speech regarded as a warm-up for the economic-success narrative Obama is expected to tout during his upcoming State of the Union speech, he took credit for what he claimed is a strong and continuing recovery.
“Since 2010, we, America, have put more people back to work than Europe, Japan and every other advanced economy combined,” Obama claimed. “After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s. Here in Michigan, manufacturers have created more than 100,000 jobs, helping to cut your unemployment rate in half.”
Obama, in his speech, neglected to note Ford did not join GM and Chrysler in the bankruptcy proceedings his administration managed in 2009, though Ford did benefit from a $5.9 billion low-cost government loan used to overhaul its factories and to re-engineer more fuel-efficient technology.
Obama also neglected to cite a U.S. Treasury report released in December documenting the U.S. taxpayer lost $9.26 billion on the auto bailout, recovering only $70.43 billion of the $79.69 billion it doled out to GM and Chrysler.
Also challenging the Obama administration narrative, the city of Detroit emerged in December with the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, requiring the city to slash $7 billion in debt and to reinvest $1.4 billion over 10 years to improve city services.
In 1950, Detroit, with a population of almost 2 million, was the fifth largest city in the United States. Today, some 55 years later, 1.3 million people have abandoned the city as the auto industry “has crumbled,” leaving the downtown area “a tiny urban island surrounded by empty lots,” as described recently by the Daily Mail of London.
As noted by the International Business Times, Detroit’s unemployment rate is one of the highest for any sizable U.S. city, presently at 8.1 percent, well above the national jobless rate of 5.8 percent.
“Over the past six years, hard-working, middle-class families have been squeezed by the president’s failed economic policies,” noted the Republican-controlled Senate Finance Committee in a fact sheet released Tuesday as Obama was flying to Michigan to deliver the speech. “Bigger government, higher taxes and more spending has saddled the American people with record high debt and left them with fewer jobs and smaller paychecks.”
Supporting this conclusion, the Senate Finance Committee cited the following statistics:
- The number of people who are not in the labor force has grown, despite a growing working-age population, by 11.9 million.
- The number of people who are not in the labor force who want a job has grown by 837,000 during the Obama administration. Many simply gave up on trying to find a job in the Obama economy.
- The employment-to-population ratio has remained consistently below 60 percent during the Obama administration’s tenure and has barely budged; in contrast, the ratio averaged 62.9 percent between the start of 2000 through when the president assumed office.
- The labor force participation rate has continued to trend downward during the Obama administration’s tenure, from 65.7 percent when the president took office to its current 62.8 percent.
- Payroll job growth has been tepid over Obama’s tenure: It has averaged only 74,000 per month, and 140,000 per month since the end of the recession.
- There has only been a net 5.3 million payroll jobs created over the Obama administration’s tenure vs. over 7.3 million payroll jobs that were lost during the recession.
- The Senate Finance Committee further noted the inflation-adjusted median household income has fallen during the Obama administration from $54,423 in 2008, the year before President Obama took office, to only $51,939 in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of people in poverty has risen from 39.8 million in 2008 to 45.3 million in 2013.
The U.S. debt at the same time has increased $8.6 trillion under the Obama administration, from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office to more than $18 trillion today.