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Ed Driscoll

The Leitmotif of the Obama Era: ‘Less Than Expected’

July 6th, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Recovery Bummer

The above cartoon is by the great Michael Ramirez of Investor’s Business Daily.

From the summer of 2010.

It reflects, as a recent article at Reason notes, “42 Straight Months of Stupidly Optimistic Official Predictions About Economic Recovery.” Bringing us up to today’s job report which Bloomberg News — as is their wont – describes as “Less Than Expected” in their headline:

American employers added fewer workers to payrolls than forecast in June and the jobless rate stayed at 8.2 percent as the economic outlook dimmed.

The 80,000 gain in employment followed a 77,000 increase in May, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 100,000 rise, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey. Growth in private payrolls was the weakest in 10 months.

Stocks fell on concern hiring has shifted into a lower gear, restricting consumer spending and leaving the economy more vulnerable to a global slowdown. The figures underscore concern among some Federal Reserve policy makers that growth isn’t fast enough to lower unemployment stuck above 8 percent since February 2009.

The headline that Bloomberg uses today is “U.S. Payrolls in June Rise Less Than Expected.”

The headline that Bloomberg used on June 8th of last year was “U.S. Payrolls Grow at Slowest Pace in 9 Months.”

For that article, the “unexpectedly” came in the lede, not the headline, but it was there as well:

American employers added jobs at the slowest pace in nine months in June and the unemployment rate unexpectedly climbed to 9.2 percent, sending global stocks sliding on concern the world’s biggest economy is faltering.

Beyond the virulent case of amnesia that’s spread through newsrooms throughout America, there’s also the cognitive dissonance of defending a president who wants to have his hand in every facet of the economy in mid 20th century Soviet John Kenneth Galbraith-style, and yet must now be described by the MSM as concurrently too weak to do anything about the same economy he desires complete control over. This strain of Orwellian doublethink can be explained as the Obamamedia doing what it can to calm voters’ fears (and their own), because as Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary wrote yesterday in anticipation of today’s grim employment report, “It’s Getting Late Early for Obama’s Economy:”

The numbers matter because they are the tangible measure of the success of failure of any administration in proving the country is in better shape than it was when they took over the big fancy offices in Washington after the last presidential election. If voters take these numbers seriously it’s because that along with personal experiences they help form the voters’ overall impression of the state of the economy. The key here is not so much the details of each report as it is the trajectory of the nation’s finances. Moreover, given the fact that we are just four months away from the November election, it’s that point in time when, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, politicians begin to understand that “it gets late early out there.” Once the electorate accepts the verdict that the economy is either on the decline or on the rise, a possible change in the fall (with the exception perhaps of a collapse on Wall Street such as occurred in September 2008) is unlikely.

Which is why, right on cue with today’s poor jobs report, the presidential palace guard in the MSM goes on the air and cranks out articles suggesting, as one Oba-booster at ABC does, that no modern president “can do much to change the situation.”

Barack Obama — or at least his speechwriters — once thought differently, as we’ll explore on the next page.

In 2004, the unemployment rate averaged out at 5.5 percent. In June of that election year,  Obama, running for the US Senate that year (where he would would later stop in for a cup of coffee on the way to his now fateful presidential bid) attacked President Bush over his job record. As Drew at Ace of Spades’ blog writes, let’s compare how the two presidents stand up at identical points during their tenures in office:

How many jobs did the economy created in June of 2004? 112,000 (pdf). This was actually down from previous months. It’s actually impressive considering the unemployment rate was…5.6% and had been for much of that year (it’s harder to get big job growth when unemployment is relatively low).

Obama actually said that today’s awful job numbers are “a step in the right direction”.

So to recap…112,000 jobs and 5.6% unemployment was killing the middle class but 80,000 jobs (when there’s clearly a job shortage) and 8.2% unemployment is “a step in the right direction”.

Buzzfeed has the audio; the transcript of Obama’s speech reflects this classic “we can do better” moment:

America needs a strong, vibrant middle class. And until middle class families get their heads above water, we can’t declare victory.

The President attacks those who make this point as “pessimists.”

He apparently believes that this is the best we can do.

We believe that we can do better.

As the folks at Twitchy.com quip in response today, “5.6% unemployment was attacked as weak. What, pray tell, is 8.2% unemployment, then? Answer: ‘Shut up, racists.’”

Obama has had his chance to put his sclerotic early 20th century theories to the test, and the result was identical to the 1930s. Other than the ability to spend the taxpayers’ money like there’s no tomorrow (which Greece, Detroit, and several California towns can tell you is true — there is no tomorrow), the entire Obama administration’s performance has been “less than expected.” Except perhaps by those of us who weren’t expecting much all along.

Which means that for the nation to have any hope, it’s now time for a change.

In other words, “It doesn’t have to be this way,” at Mitt Romney said today in response to the president’s “less than expected” employment numbers.

Update: As James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute notes in a killer chart atop a Drudge-linked article today, in 2009, the Obama administration predicted that unemployment would be at 5.6 percent today as a result of his economic “stimulus” program, passed that year at the height of hopenchange, when Democrats controlled all branches of the Federal Government, and as Newsweek boasted at the time, “We Are All Socialists Now:”


More: If “unexpectedly” is the verbal tic that defines the media’s self-imposed amnesia, then cutting and pasting the phrase “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available” at the end of economic reports from the Obama White House’s Website every month since January is the administration’s equivalent.

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