I'm sure it had been over a year since I had heard anyone blame Bush for the economy, and even longer since I had heard anyone defend President Barack Obama on anything at my local pub.
Yet, I heard both uttered by a heretofore mostly silent-on-politics friend there yesterday, soon after I had sought refuge from false moral equivalence allegations between German and other United Nations Security Council abstentions on Libya and the past behavior of a certain nation I call home, made in my Stone Mountain of Georgia home.
Admittedly, the then-sparse number of early afternoon occupants of nearby bar stools and I were in the middle of a group denunciation of all things Obama when the former erupted, but I was still a bit shocked given the source, the occasion of March Madness on the big screen TV and my known reputation as a rabid right-wing conservative. It was too much liberalism for me to take this particular weekend, so I went home immediately after summarily denouncing the untimely pronouncements.
In transit, I realized that what was so striking about the Blame Bush and Praise Obama statements is how rare it is to hear them even in an Atlanta Metro Area venue (DeKalb County is represented in Congress by Democrat Hank Johnson after Radical Cynthia McKinney represented the county for many terms previous) that is regularly populated by a goodly number of liberals, Democrats and mushy moderates. In fact, I can't ever remember hearing anyone claim that "things have turned around" on the economy since the jobs recession began even before the bursting of the housing bubble and resulting financial crisis in 2008.
I never got an answer as to just how Bush "caused all this" and didn't stay long enough to explore exactly what had "turned", but I had been planning a column on the present historic disparity between unemployment rates reported by Gallup and the Labor Department, and other economic data; and, what they mean as compared to the Great Depression and WWII, and so will use the occasion of the flowing of lava from a 3-year dormant Mt. BlameBush Volcano to address the ongoing Great Recession.
What has turned around?
If my good friend and elder from the Midwest meant that we are no longer in the midst of a meltdown of the banking system crisis, given Obama's continual claims that his Stimulus saved us from the abyss, then I would remind him that the crisis was averted via TARP payments made under President George W. Bush.
Now, then Senator Barack Obama voted for TARP, but if one wants to credit one vote for TARP with averting a second Great Depression, then wouldn't one also have to credit the president that signed the bill the senator voted for? I think so.
Moreover, if my friend blames the policies of President Bush for precipitating the crisis, then wouldn't one also have to blame the Democratic Party majorities in the House and Obama-occupied U.S. Senate who passed the last two budgets before the crisis after they won said majorities and changed tax and spend policies in November of 2006? Obviously.
President Obama voted for both budgets that preceded the onset of the current jobs recession. The only bills that Senator Obama opposed from 2007 until he was inaugurated were two that sought to fund American armed forces at war.
But what about GDP and recent improvements in the unemployment rate?
Yes, GDP did turn positive after Obama too office, but if this is what was meant by a so-called turn around, the fact is that GDP went positive before he signed any of his policies into law.
Moreover, even the Labor Department's latest misleading unemployment rate of 8.9% is higher than it ever was under President Bush. Once might argue that a turn around is indicated by the recent reported drops in that rate from the 10%+ highs of 2010, but then one is faced with the continual drop in the government's reported labor participation rate and continual rise in Gallup's more comprehensive unemployment statistic that remains in double digits. Finally, the underemployment rate remains near Depression Era rates near 20% (chart pictured above) and the massive numbers of Americans that are no longer counted due to having given up on finding a job.
Economic statistics are tools to try and measure the overall health of the economy and, thus, people's lives, as well as the direction of the economy. Pursuits of happiness revel in actually obtaining a job, not the number 8.9 as opposed to 10.3.
The fact is that if all but 100 of the currently employed 158 million+ Americans stopped looking for work, and only 99 American found work, the Labor Department could boast of a microscopic unemployment rate of only 1%.
A turn around? I guess so, if what you you mean is that America turned away from Welfare reform via the Stimulus and toward socialized medicine via ObamaCare. We have turned away from loyalty to the nuclear secrets of our British allies and toward appeasement of Russia with START. We turned our face from Iranians in the streets of Tehran yearning to breathe free while bowing to dictators near Iran and seeking meetings with Iran's leaders that brutally repressed their yearnings for Liberty.
Maybe a lingering St. Patrick's Day hangover explains a three-years-on recurrence of the heady, irresponsible and carefree days of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS as LSD flashback?), and given the utter and complete failure of Obama to fix the economy, we can sympathize members of our former party.
But what kind of pathological denial explains any claim of an economic turnaround with fully more than one in five Americans unable to earn any income or enough to pay basic needs bills? I suspect its a different kind of hangover produced by a lifetime of liberal hopes for change gone bad about one is reminded daily when one buys gasoline and food at Obama-inflated prices.
Legal Editor - The Minority Report
Atlanta Law & Politics columnist for Examiner.com
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
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