The PJ Tatler

President Obama Sees 'Silver Linings' in Economic Clouds

He also sees unicorns in the Rose Garden, elves in the Oval Office, and faeries under his bed. I suppose we should really start to worry if he starts seeing cave trolls in the bowels of the White House basement.

The Hill reports:

The president touted his record on the economy in his remarks, while jabbing Republicans for standing in the way of those achievements.

Obama’s remarks were an effort of sorts to move away from the showdown that gripped Washington in recent weeks, beginning with the government shutdown and ending with a last-minute deal to raise the nation’s debt limit. Obama said he knows the public has heard a lot about Washington’s woes, but “there are some good things happening in the economy” below the surface.

“After decades in which the middle class was working harder and harder just to keep up, and a punishing recession that made it worse, we made the tough choices required not just to recover from crisis, but to rebuild on a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth,” he said. “Five years later, we have fought our way back.”

The president touted his work on energy and health care as key economic boons. He noted steady job growth the economy has seen in recent months, underscoring 200,000 new jobs created in October.

He also noted that the auto industry has essentially recovered from its near bankruptcy and bailout and is helping support growing U.S. manufacturing. All this happened while the deficit has been cut in half, he added.

Both parties have battlegrounds immediately ahead of them; if a budget conference committee cannot strike a spending deal in the coming weeks, the U.S. could yet again be faced with another federal government shutdown. And the nation’s borrowing cap will need another increase sometime this spring.

The president chided Republicans for repeatedly fighting back against his efforts, painting them as mere obstructionists getting in the way of a resurgent economy. He also made passing mention to the ongoing woes surrounding the rollout of his signature healthcare law, which has been the dominant GOP priority for weeks.

“Imagine how much farther along we could be if both parties were working together. Think about what we could do if a reckless few didn’t hold the economy hostage every few months, or waste time on dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act rather than try to help us fix it,” he said.

First of all, under his watch, the middle class has fallen further behind. And what exactly is this “new foundation” for economic growth? With GDP growth hovering near 2% — and less  — who is he trying to kid that there’s much of a recovery at all?

Yes, we have “fought our way back”…to the 1970s and a stagnant economy. No wonder all this great news about the economy lies “beneath the surface.”

The steady job growth is going so well that it will only take eight years to create enough jobs to bring employment back to 2008 levels.  Steady growth is good. But a glacier moves steadily as well — a couple of inches a year. Where’s the silver lining in having your jobs record compared to a moving sheet of ice?

James Pethokoukis wrote this cheery piece last week:

Is this as good as it gets? America’s almost-Fed chairman Larry Summers says it might be. In a recent IMF speech that’s the buzz of the economics world, Summers said advanced economies, including the United States, risk falling into a Japanese-style, permanent malaise. The Great Slump That Never Ends. Interest rates never normalize and inflation stays low while employment and wage growth stay weak. Summers speculates that the natural interest rate “consistent with full employment” fell “to negative 2% or negative 3% sometime in the middle of the last decade.”

But conventional monetary policy can’t push rates that low. The dreaded Zero Lower Bound. Thus, Summers concludes, “We may well need, in the years ahead, to think about how we manage an economy in which the zero nominal interest rate is a chronic and systemic inhibitor of economic activity, holding our economies back, below their potential.”

The argument is based on two observations: first, even before the Great Recession and Financial Crisis, US GDP output and job growth was mediocre despite the lending-mania that inflated the housing bubble. Summers: “Was there a great boom? … Somehow even a great bubble wasn’t enough to produce any excess in aggregate demand.”

Second, four years after the end of the panic, GDP remains far below its prerecession trend and the share of the US adult population with a job remains depressed.  While the Great Recession is officially over, Summers paraphrases Yogi Berra: “It is not over until it is over.” And based on how the vast majority of Americans are doing, it isn’t over.

The president is delusional. That’s the only explanation you can believe about his Pollyannish view of the economy and how we’re all happy little peons living in his “transformational America.” Even the accomplishments he touted — healthcare and energy production — are hardly his successes. This is a guy who hates fossil fuels so much he has ordered his EPA to treat the by-product of burning them as poison. He has done nothing to promote the booming natural gas industry or the shale oil industry that will make us virtually energy independent in just a few years.

As for healthcare, the jury is still out whether there will even be a health insurance industry by this time next year. And as far as the GOP not helping “fix” Obamacare, what is it exactly the president expects the GOP to do? The Obamacare failures are not the result of any bipartisan disagreements but rather the monumental incompetence of the president and his people. What a sick political joke the president is making when he seeks to shift blame for his own stupidity on to the opposition.

The president is indeed seeing things when he touts an economy that  half of Americans think is still in recession.  But don’t worry, Barry. The Secret Service will no doubt save you from the ravages of that cave troll…