'The Private Sector is Doing Just Fine'

President Obama winds up the week in spectacular fashion:

Jim Pethokoukis responds, “Obama is wrong. The private sector isn’t ‘doing fine,’” and then counts the ways it that it’s in very poor shape:


In his news conference today, President Obama gave some interesting insight into his views of the state of the American economy.

“The private sector is doing fine.”

Here is the whole quote (via RealClearPolitics):

The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

But is it really? Is the private sector “doing fine?”

1. Private-sector jobs have increased by an average of just 105,000 over the past three months and by just 89,000 a month during the entire Obama Recovery.

In 1983 and 1984, during the supply-side Reagan Boom, private sector jobs increased by an average of 292,000 a month. Adjusted for population, that number is more like 375,000 private-sector jobs a month

2. If the labor force participation rate for May had just stayed where it was in April, the unemployment rate would have risen to 8.4%. As it is, the U.S. economy is suffering is longest sustained bout of 8% unemployment or higher since the Great Depression.


That’s just a taste; click over to read the whole thing. Jim Geraghty notes how Obama’s statement today rhymes with one made by John McCain in September of 2008 after the markets melted down, one that the Obama campaign was quick to pounce on, to paint McCain as being aloof and out of touch with the American people:

On September 15, 2008, John McCain said, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” The Lehman collapse was in progress, and all of Wall Street was feeling intense anxiety, so there were many warning signs of economic trouble ahead. Having said, that, the unemployment rate then was 6.1 percent.

Nonetheless, the Obama campaign saw an opportunity, and pounced:

John Hinderaker of Power Line asks if today was “Obama’s Most Clueless Moment Yet?” Hinderaker speculates that Mr. Obama may have been channeling the discredited central planning-obsessed mid-20th century ghost of John Kenneth Galbraith:

The classic formulation of this proposition goes back to John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society, published in 1958. Galbraith contrasted the worlds of “private opulence and public squalor” in the course of arguing for massive government spending programs. Galbraith’s book was epically wrong-headed, but the idea that the private sector is rich and the public sector is underfunded lives on as one of the pillars of liberal ideology.

Most everyone knows that times have changed. Government spending consumes an ever-growing share of America’s wealth, and study after study shows that public sector workers are paid vastly better than private sector workers. In today’s world, opulence is far more a feature of the world of government than of private industry. But this is a fact around which leftists like Barack Obama simply cannot wrap their minds. They cling bitterly to the old stereotypes, because to do otherwise would call into question their entire worldview. To them, the private sector is always “doing fine;” if anything, in their hostile eyes, too well.

Obama’s friends in the press will try to minimize the significance of what he said today, I suspect unsuccessfully.


Indeed. Let’s flash back even further than hapless John McCain in the fall of 2008, to understand why. In 1992, while the economy was actually beginning to recover, any statement by George H.W. Bush expressing economic optimism was painted by the MSM as an illustration of the president being cold, aloof, distant from the suffering American people (hence Clinton’s “I feel your pain” soundbite) and in bunker mode in the White House. The media created the narrative; if it works against Obama’s reelection chances in spite of the MSM’s best efforts to prop him up, it will be poetic justice indeed.

And finally, even before Obama’s gaffe today, Doug Ross, with an assist from the aforementioned Jim Pethokoukis had Obama’s scary-ass chart of the day: “Obama’s entire reelection problem in one chart.”

Or to put it another way, Mendozzzzzzzzaaaaaaaa!

Update: “The economy needs to be strengthened. That’s why I had a press conference.”

Related: Steve Green plays the Carter card.


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