November 5, 2010
Truth and Science and Facts vs. Unwashed HillbilliesBy Randall Hoven
We are hearing that either President Obama is misunderstood or we are unwashed hillbillies who don't get it. Don't we know that he inherited this mess, the greatest recession since the Great Depression? Don't we know that the recession ended in June of 2009, just five months into his presidency? Don't we know that his stimulus was one third tax cuts and tax credits, and that he has not raised taxes? Don't we know that the number of private-sector jobs has increased in each of the last nine months?
President Obama explained us to us as follows:
(Just my unwashed observation: We have a president who knows what our brains are hardwired to do and can describe the emotional state of an entire country, but he can't get subject and verb to agree and pronoun and antecedent to agree in just two sentences not read from a teleprompter. Good thing he didn't say "refudiate.")
Not missing the memo, Bloomberg took up on the president's insight.
There we go again: failure to communicate.
Senator John Kerry (who served in Vietnam) blamed it more directly on us, those whom Katie Couric might call "this great unwashed middle of the country" or whom Bill Maher might call "the ignorant hillbilly half of the country."
What a coincidence: John Kerry and President Obama both mentioned "science" and "facts" in completely independent speeches. Funny how great minds think alike.
OK. Here are some facts. The two charts below show real GDP (a measure of the overall economy) and job growth during recovery, compared to the beginning of the recession (as called by the NBER) for all eleven postwar recessions.
Say all you want about how Obama inherited this recession; he wants credit for the recovery. So let's give him the recovery. Look at how it compares to all the other postwar recession recoveries. To us ignorant, unwashed hillbillies, it sure looks like Obama's "recovery" is going nowhere slowly.
Out of eleven recession recoveries, Obama's is the only one that did not go above its pre-recession GDP peak by the third quarter of recovery. It is still not there even by the fifth quarter. It is one of only two in which there were fewer jobs fifteen months into the recovery than at the beginning of it. Yes, the hole was slightly deeper this time, but there is little evidence that we are even crawling out of it.
I think I know what some of you might say: Obama is only on the bottom of those charts because he started out in the deepest hole. Sorry, but even the rate of improvement in this recovery is historically anemic. The growth in GDP is the third-slowest of the eleven postwar recessions, and the growth in jobs is the second-slowest.
Just so you have all the data (as I am not one to cherry-pick), below is a table of GDP and job growth during the eleven postwar recession recoveries. These reflect the paces of the recoveries, regardless of how deep the original hole was.
I think what Obama means by his "communication" or "message" problem is that he is not trumpeting the news that there actually was one recession recovery even slower than his: George W. Bush's. And we know how President Obama is so hesitant to blame anything on his predecessor.
But I have a few things to say about that particular comparison.
Senator Kerry claimed that "truth and science and facts don't weigh in." So let me weigh in with some more facts. Here is one fact: what President Obama said about his health reform in July 2009.
Then, when it turned out that Obama's health care reform would bend the cost curve in the wrong direction, Jake Tapper took notice. That gave us another fact: what President Obama said about his health reform in September 2010.
Those words mean two things to this unwashed hillbilly: (1) I have doubts that Obama is "the smartest guy ever to become President," and (2) he lies.
When Obama was trying to sell the plan, he said it would bring the cost curve down. Once his plan was signed into law, he said he knew that it was "going to increase our costs." At least that sure looks like a lie to this ignorant know-nothing. Maybe there's some nuance I don't understand. Or does "down" mean "up" in actuarial science? Maybe Katie Couric could enlighten me; she knows pretty much everything about climate science.
Here is what I think I know about the big achievements of the Obama presidency.
Putting it all together, at the very time that we should be reining government in, Obama is using every means at his disposal to expand it as far in every direction that he can. When we should be trying to avoid the obvious pitfalls of European welfare states, we are doing everything we can to imitate them. If there are facts and science that I'm missing, please enlighten me.
I think I speak for many of us unwashed hillbillies when I say that.