Hope and change. Remember how we felt on Election Night in 2008. We were feeling so good about ourselves. We had just elected the first African American President of the United States. We had confirmed that old adage that anyone can succeed in America; under our way of life anything is possible. Mr. Obama was going to bring us all closer together: black and white, rich and poor, young and old. He was going to make America a better place, economically and socially. As a bright, young, vibrant African American with superb communicative skills he was uniquely positioned to do so. Sure, he had a liberal background as a community organizer and U. S. senator, but now he would be the president of ALL the people and broaden his perspective accordingly, much as many other presidents had before him. Or, so we thought.
Now it is 2013. Five years have passed, and none of that optimism has come to pass. If anything, we are worse off than before he took office. Consider the following negative affects of Obama-nomics:
1. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high. Overall unemployment is 7.4% versus 7.8% in January 2009 when Mr. Obama took office. Approximately 80% of jobs created have been part time as employers seek to minimize expenses for employee healthcare (more on this later). Furthermore, a disproportionate percentage of the jobs created have been at the low end of the wage scale. Many college graduates, unable to find jobs in the field for which they were educated, at great cost I might add, are waiting tables or working at low salaries, if they can find a job at all. Also, not included in the unemployment rate are the 8 million or so discouraged persons who have given up and stopped looking for work. Unemployment among blacks is 12.6%, about the same as in January 2009.
2. The average duration of a person receiving unemployment benefits has risen to 37 weeks compared to 20 in 2009. This is consistent with the fact that jobs are not as plentiful as the Administration would have you believe.
3. Despite Mr. Obama’s aggressive attempts to redistribute income and wealth, the poverty rate is 16%, which is higher than it was in 1965 when the “War on Poverty” began.
4. Over half of Americans earn less than $54,000 a year and the number of Americans on food stamps is increasing by 11,000 per day.
5. The average price of a gallon of gas at the pump is $3.53 compared to $1.85 in 2009.
6. Even Mr. Obama’s signature legislation, the (Un)Affordable Healthcare Act, has had negative unintended consequences. Healthcare costs are already rising as the insurance companies anticipate their increased costs when the law takes effect in 2014. Moreover, many employers have been reducing their employees’ hours below 30 per week. That way, they will be considered to be part time and ineligible for healthcare coverage under employer-sponsored plans.
7. Yes, the stock market is booming and corporate profits are up, which bodes well for the future. But, so far the primary beneficiaries of this have been the wealthy as they are the ones who own stocks. So, the supreme irony is that Mr. Obama’s policies have been hurting the very people that he wants to help and helping the very people he wants to hurt.
CONCLUSION AND PREDICTION
Mr. Obama, as the first black president, had a rare, if not unique, opportunity to bring us all closer together. However, instead of being the “Great Unifier,” he has been the “Great Divider.” His anti-capitalist, Robin Hood-esque economic policies have been an abject failure. His partisan politics have pitted rich against poor (tax increases and growth of entitlements), black against white (defending Trayvon Martin before the trial even began, while ignoring the slaying of an Australian citizen by three “bored” youths,” the school bus beat-down of a 14 year old by three black youths and the random slaying of an 88 year old war veteran), women against men (exaggerated “war on women” election issue), young against old and the haves against the have-nots.
Furthermore, he has failed to come clean on several scandals: Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS investigations and Eric Snowden’s disclosure of NSA activities, to name a few. Where is the leadership and accountability. Harry Truman must be turning over in his grave.
In my opinion, there is more social discord now than at any other time in the last 40 years (since the end of the Viet Nam War). I believe America is strong and resilient enough to survive the next three years, but it won’t be easy.