Economy recovering in spite of Obama

Conn Carroll

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the United States economy added 243,000 jobs in January.

After averaging just over 100,000 new jobs a month the first 18 months since the job market recovery, the economy has averaged 200,000 new jobs over the last three months. It has taken far too long, but it appears that the economy is finally recovering.

President Obama will no doubt claim that all this job growth is the direct result of his economic policies. But which ones exactly? A closer look shows that, to the extent the U.S. economy is recovering, it is doing so despite Obama, not because of him.

First, look at the stimulus, which consisted of one part temporary tax cuts (about $10 a week for the typical taxpayer), one part grants to states, and one part infrastructure spending.

As Stanford economist John Taylor has documented, the temporary tax cuts were all saved, not spent, thus denying them any stimulative impact.

The grants to the states were all used to support bloated government payrolls. When those payments ran out, states began slashing jobs. At best, this part of Obama's stimulus only temporarily "saved" those jobs. It did not create any.

Then there is the infrastructure spending, 80 percent of which still had not been spent by the time the recession officially ended in July 2009. Just look at the $10 billion Obama's stimulus was supposed to spend on high-speed rail.

Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin rejected Obama's high-speed rail money entirely. Only the state of California is going ahead with its project, which is now projected to be more than $70 billion over budget.

An independent panel of analysts recently advised the California legislature against selling bonds to pay for the rest of the plan after it concluded the system "is not financially feasible."

Turning to the auto bailout, Obama made some terrible investments there, too. Last month, the Treasury Department released a report showing that U.S. taxpayers will never get $24.77 billion of the $85 billion they invested in General Motors and Chrysler back. That doesn't even count the additional $13 billion in tax breaks Obama has granted GM over the next decade.

And let's not forget how Obama forced GM to pour billions of dollars into the supposedly environmentally friendly Chevy Volt, which has turned out to be a spectacular failure.

GM had planned to sell 10,000 volts in 2011. Instead they sold just over 7,500. Meanwhile, the top-selling vehicle in the United States last year was the gas-guzzling, and non-bailed-out, Ford F-150 pickup. The big Ford has been the most popular vehicle in the U.S. for more than three decades.

Speaking of gas, guess what is the fastest-growing sector of the economy in the Obama recovery? The extractive energy industries (which includes mining and oil and gas production).

Since the job market reached bottom, jobs in the mining/oil/gas sector have grown a whopping 23 percent. If anyone should be credited for the job growth in the energy sector, it is the Republicans who blocked Obama's cap-and-trade plan in Congress, then forced his Environmental Protection Agency to delay a flood of economically suffocating global warming regulations.

Not that Obama hasn't tried to make his own investments on the energy front. He has poured billions into alternative energy firms like solar panel manufacture Solyndra, which went bankrupt after receiving $535 million from U.S. taxpayers.

Americans everywhere should celebrate the fact that our economy is recovering again. But they should also realize that the current recovery is weak, and that with less interference from Washington, the U.S. economy would do much better, as it did under President Reagan.

At this point in the Reagan recovery (22 months since the end of job losses), job growth had been averaging 312,000 jobs a month and the unemployment rate had fallen from 10.8 percent to 7.3 percent.

America deserves a better economic recovery. America deserves a better president.

Conn Carroll is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at

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