Obama Economics: unfair and unaffordable

Conn Carroll

"Obama Economics," Vice President Biden explained on the campaign trail in Ohio last week, "[is] a philosophy that believes everyone deserves a fair shot and a fair shake, and everybody should play by the same rules."

"Obama Economics," as described by Biden, sounds wonderful in theory. But how has it played out in practice?

Turns out, when Obama bailed out General Motors, he treated some of GM's employees just a bit more equally than others.

Mary Miller, a former non-union employee, says she "worked alongside an hourly appointed person and we managed the local joint training fund for the brake operations" for years. "I got to be very good friends with this person," Miller said.

But when Obama intervened in GM's bankruptcy, he saved the pension and health benefits of GM's union employees, but not those for non-union employees.

"It is unjust," Miller said. "And when your government is making this choice and then using my own tax money to make this choice and declare me 'not deserving' I feel that they have disdain for us."

Is what happened to Miller and her non-union co-workers what Biden means by giving everyone a fair shake?

Not only was Obama's GM bailout unfair, it was also unprofitable.

According to the most recent Treasury Department report, the federal government "invested" more than $51 billion in GM through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The entire company is worth only $33.45 billion today.

And despite whatever you might hear from the Obama administration, GM has not fully paid that bailout back. They still owe more than $27 billion.

As taxpayers, we still own 500 million shares of GM. And those are worth something. But we cannot get our money back by selling them now. At market prices, we'd all take a loss of more than $15 billion. Even if we assume that every single one of GM's 98,000 U.S. employees would have lost their job had Obama not bailed out GM, that still works out to $153,000 spent for every job saved. Our federal government simply cannot afford that.

The reality is that GM went bankrupt because it made health care and pension promises to its employees that it simply could not afford to keep. For years GM was able to escape this reality, but in 2008 the market finally caught up with them.

The United States faces a very similar problem today. Like GM in the decades before its bankruptcy, our politicians have made health care and pension promises to American citizens that our federal government simply cannot keep.

Since World War II, on average, our federal government has consumed just 18.1 percent of our gross domestic product in taxes. The highest it ever got was 20.6 percent in 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble. But we are already spending 23.5 percent of our GDP today, and that number will only rise as the baby boom generation retires. By 2045 we will be spending more on just three entitlement programs (Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid) then we currently take in taxes. We would have to borrow every cent to pay for everything else the government does.

This is unsustainable. Nobody knows when, but the bond markets will get us. They got GM in 2008. They are getting Europe now. We are next.

Obama Economics does not acknowledge these realities. Obama believes we can continue on our current course without fundamentally reforming our Medicare and Social Security programs. He believes we can just tax our way out of these problems.

He's as wrong today as GM executives were decades ago. Problem is, no one is going to be there to bail us out.

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

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