July 25 2013

From the White House Recycling Bin: The President's Galesburg Speech

Charlotte Hays

The president’s most recent pivot to the economy came yesterday with a speech in Galesburg, Illinois.

If President Obama could halt the rise of the oceans and jolt the economy into action with yet another speech, we’d be living in a Gobi Desert that had the hyperkinetic economy of Hong Kong.

Reuters reported:

“Americans aren't asking the question ‘where are the speeches?' They're asking ‘where are the jobs?'" said John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Yesterday’s Galesburg speech came from the White House recycling bin.

President Obama, needless to say, hammered the Republicans and portrayed himself as a friend of the (shrinking!) middle class. It’s not shrinking, alas, because people are launching companies and moving up. It is shrinking because the main component of getting into and remaining in the middle class—a job—is hard to find in the Obama economy.

President Obama and his team got to try out their ideas in his first term. They didn’t work. He refuses to notice that the economy remains anemic not because of George Bush but because the theories from the faculty lounge don’t actually…work.

Speaking as if he has forgotten who was president for the last four-plus years, President Obama complained of the “growing inequality.” Reversing this, he said, is “Washington’s highest priority.” But, as the Wall Street Journal points out this morning, President Obama is “the Inequality President:”

For four and a half years, Mr. Obama has focused his policies on reducing inequality rather than increasing growth. The predictable result has been more inequality and less growth. As even Mr. Obama conceded in his speech, the rich have done well in the last few years thanks to a rising stock market, but the middle class and poor have not. The President called his speech "A Better Bargain for the Middle Class," but no President has done worse by the middle class in modern times….

We hope the predictions of a faster growth in the second half will be right, but the Obama Treasury and Federal Reserve have been predicting for four years that takeoff was just around the corner. Stocks are doing great, and housing prices are rising, but job growth remains lackluster. What has never arrived is the 3%-4% growth spurt during typical expansions.

The official excuse is that recoveries coming out of recessions caused by financial crises are always slow. But then why have we been told every few months for five years that faster growth would soon be coming? Perhaps readers recall former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's famous 2010 op-ed, "Welcome to the Recovery." Mr. Obama wants it both ways: Take credit for recovering from recession, but blame that recession ad infinitum for the slow pace of the recovery.

Pollster Doug Schoen writes in Forbes that the speech, which was billed as a presentation of the president’s economic vision, “turned out to be what I am sure will be the first of many campaign speeches for the 2014 midterms and offered Americans nothing new and certainly nothing close to a viable economic vision for the country.”

Schoen writes:

Obama doubled down on his approach in 2012: division, polarization and moving to the left.

Much like in 2012, the President placed little emphasis on tax reform or growth. He spoke of bringing jobs back to America – specifically in manufacturing – but did not reveal many details of how he would achieve this.

We heard some talk of balancing the budget and deficit reduction, cornerstone issues of the protracted battle in the House at the end of last year and beginning of 2013. But there was no talk of a long-term deficit reduction plan or plan for entitlement reform that will save crucial programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is what realists expected from this president and this speech. It is frightening with Detroit’s bankruptcy, the result of six decades of what Walter Russell Mead terms “blue governance,” the president and his party sail blythly along towards Detroit-like disaster for all of us.

Meanwhile, former speaker Nancy Pelosi has also been to the recycling bin for some “new” ideas that she claims will help women—you know, such as raising the minimum wage, so that fewer people can find entry level jobs.

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