A Faux Compassionate Christmas, Courtesy of the Left
Roughly thirty months since the beginning of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy, the latest available government figures show a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.8%, only 0.3% lower than the October 2009 peak. Total labor underutilization is stuck at 17%. The category known as "Not in Labor Force, Want a Job Now" is up to 6.2 million Americans, having climbed almost half a million in the past six months. When the POR economy and the recession as normal people define it began, that number was 5 million.
Meanwhile, the housing market is close to wrapping up what will be by far its worst year ever. In November, 21,000 new homes were sold in the entire country, the lowest total for any month in any of the 48 years related records have been kept. This year's total for new home sales will be roughly 320,000, 15% fewer than last year's record low.
We're supposed to be impressed that growth in the third quarter came in at an annualized 2.6%, when the economy is only about 85% of the way back to where it was before the properly defined recession began.
This is how, five quarters after the recession officially ended, the left wishes America a Merry Christmas -- oh, I'm sorry, "Happy Holidays" -- with a sputtering economy it demands we accept as "the new normal." By contrast, at the end of 1983, the fifth quarter of Ronald Reagan's tax cut-driven recovery, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which had peaked at 10.8% a year earlier, was already down to 8.3%, and it dropped another full percentage point the following year. The economy was growing at a torrid annualized rate of 8.5%.
At the end of last year, I asked an obvious question: "Economic Rebound? What Economic Rebound?" I was ridiculed in some quarters for questioning the validity of the recovery. Does anyone now reasonably believe that the economy as a whole -- that is, the non-Obama golf, non-White House partying economy -- is improving in any meaningful way that the average person can see?
None of this should have happened, and it could have been stopped long ago.
In mid-2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then-candidate Barack Obama, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid began an unprecedented campaign of trash-talking the economy -- which, though clearly struggling, was still growing -- while promising drastically higher taxes and energy-starving "climate" initiatives. The record shows that enough entrepreneurs, investors, and other businesspeople to matter began heading for the hills, trimming employment, virtually ceasing new hiring, and canceling growth and expansion plans.
A weakened economy was no match for the amazingly timed perfect storm which followed shortly thereafter. It's almost as if the Pelosi-Obama-Reid triumvirate knew that what they began in June would cause the serious problems in home lending and homebuilding to reach critical mass several months later. I suspect that someday someone with a conscience will let us know that what looks like an amazing set of coincidences was anything but that.
In early September, Democrat-dominated, government-sponsored home-lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac imploded. Thanks primarily to those two entities' deliberate efforts to lower credit-approval standards in the entire industry, and their 15-year "fraud by design" campaign of deceiving the credit rating agencies about the nature of the loans they had securitized, financial market mayhem ensued. Not letting a crisis go to waste, Democrats seized the opportunity to stampede the president and Congress into creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). It purpose was supposedly to buy up bad housing loans.
Less than two weeks later, in a complete shift from what the American people were promised, one that we're supposed to believe was unplanned and totally unrelated to anything preceding it, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson pointed a figurative gun to the heads of large bank CEOs, demanding that they accept government "investment" in their institutions. Thus began the left-inspired statist encroachment that has since moved into more areas than can be named, some of which include auto manufacturing, small agriculture, education lending, and even school bake sales.
The statist "solution" for improving the economy they brought down was Keynesian "stimulus" -- y'know, the strategy which was tried and failed with FDR in the 1930s and in Japan in the 1990s. We were supposed to keep a straight face when they told us: "This time it's going to work."
It becomes more reasonable with each passing day to believe that Pelosi, Obama, Reid, and the White House's group of economic lamebrains knew it wouldn't work, and didn't care. Why? Because almost two years and over $3 trillion in debt later, after stimulus has clearly failed, it's still the only "solution" they offer.
The so-called "tax-cut compromise" unfortunately agreed to by enough Republicans to enable passage is, of course, not a tax cut at all. It only achieves a continuation of what has been the income tax status quo for eight years, and only does so for another two, instead of the five or more needed to significantly influence business behavior. Worse, it contains more failed Keynesianism, including $57 billion in additional unemployment benefits. The economy may marginally improve, but almost no one believes that the unemployment rate will significantly come down any time soon.
The millions of unemployed who are legitimately trying to find work and can't, and whose families continue to suffer as a result, are where they are largely because of the POR Economy's fundamentally flimsy, stagnant substance. It's almost impossible to believe that this genuinely bothers them, because if it did, they'd try something that works.