American Elephants


Obama: “We’ve Managed the Economy Pretty Well!” by The Elephant's Child

On his return trip from Kansas City, President Obama granted an interview with The Economist. They said:

The Economist: We see a lot of business people and they do complain about regulation.

Mr Obama: They always complain about regulation. That’s their job. Let’s look at the track record. Let’s look at the facts. Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the US economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.

So if, in fact, our policies have produced a record stock market, record corporate profits, 52 months of consecutive job growth, 10m new jobs, the deficit being cut by more than half, an energy sector that’s booming, a clean-energy sector that’s booming, a reduction of carbon pollution greater than the Europeans or any other country, a housing market that has bounced back, and an unemployment rate that is now lower than it was pre-Lehman—I think you’d have to say that we’ve managed the economy pretty well and business has done okay.

There are always going to be areas where business does not want to be regulated because regulations are inconvenient.

The Economist: But don’t you wish, when you look at things like Dodd-Frank or you look at health-care reform—both of which we supported in principle—that they could have been much simpler?

Mr Obama: Of course. This goes back to the old adage of Churchill—democracy is the worst form of government except for all the alternatives. (Laughter.) It’s messy.

And so could we have designed a far more elegant health-care law? Of course. Would I have greatly preferred a blank canvas in which to design financial regulations post-2008 and consolidated agencies and simplified oversight? Absolutely. But the truth of the matter is, is that we saved the financial system. It continues to be extraordinarily profitable. And essentially, what we did was to provide an additional cushion so that if and when people make bad decisions with large sums of money—which they inevitably do—the risks to the system are reduced.

And on health care, as messy as the whole process has been, here’s what I know—that we have millions of people [insured] who didn’t have insurance before, and health-care inflation is the lowest it’s been in 50 years, for four consecutive years, corresponding to when we passed the law.

So my belief is that if, in fact, we can see a reduction in some of the political temperature around Obamacare or around Dodd-Frank, then it’s an iterative process. We can go back at it and further refine it, learn lessons from things that aren’t working as well, make it simpler, make it better. That does require, though, an attitude on the part of Congress, as well as on the part of the business community, that says you don’t just get 100% of what you want.

Do read the whole thing. Does Obama believe what he says? Is this just something he says for public consumption? Obama, according to The Economist “was buoyed by the recent economic numbers and looking towards his legacy…” Funny, everybody else considered the numbers as a disappointing  failure to meet expectations. And Obama’s track record as disastrous.  So he heralds his role in saving the U.S. economy.

A new study by the Russel Sage Foundation finds that middle-class Americans are poorer today than they were in 1984.  92,001,000 people are no longer in the workforce, an increase of 11,472,000 since he took office.

The Obama administration has added $7 trillion to the National Debt, well, actually — $7,060,259,674,497.51 to be precise— but when the number gets that big I have trouble with all the commas.

In 2012, Obama was heavily criticized for delaying (and hiding) major regulation until after the presidential election. Now it seems he may again be delaying another $34 billion of new regulations until after the election. There are mostly regulatory costs imposed by the EPA. Why am I not surprised?

The most extensive is the EPA’s ground-level ozone standard. That one does not currently have a price tag, but when the rule was vetoed by the White House in 2011, it’s cost was put at $90 billion. Then you have the Department of Energy’s new conservation standards for incandescent lamps, projected to cost$863 million per  year and raise consumer prices by 40 to 70 percent. Most of these regulations are also major job killers, but the EPA says they don’t have to pay any attention to that.  That does not include the Clean Energy Plan regulations which is expected to cost thousands of jobs and raise the cost of electricity sharply.

Gosh. Back in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama called President George W. Bush “unpatriotic” and his policies “irresponsible” for adding $4 trillion to the national debt with the costs of 9/11 and two wars. But that was then and this is now.




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