Commentary Magazine


Democrats Face the Voters with Lousy Economic Results

This report explains:

Real personal income for Americans — excluding government payouts such as Social Security — has fallen by 3.2 percent since President Obama took office in January 2009, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

For comparison, real personal income during the first 15 months in office for President George W. Bush, who inherited a milder recession from his predecessor, dropped 0.4 percent. Income excluding government payouts increased 12.7 percent during Mr. Bush’s eight years in office.

“This is hardly surprising,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist and former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. “Under President Obama, only federal spending is going up; jobs, business startups, and incomes are all down. It is proof that the government can’t spend its way to prosperity.”

It’s also more bad news for Democrats this election year. It was Obama, after all, who went after his predecessor for falling incomes. (“American families, since George Bush has been in office, have seen average family incomes go down $2,000,’ Mr. Obama said in a September 2008 speech on the economy in Green Bay, Wis.”) The “Bush did it” excuse is sure to follow, but plainly Obama’s stimulus plans haven’t made a dent in incomes or unemployment as he promised they would. The report also reminds us that the AP survey of leading economists has more gloomy news: “The unemployment rate will stay high for the next two years and still be at 8.4 percent by the end of 2011. Home prices will remain almost flat for the next two years, even after dropping an average 32 percent nationwide since peaking in 2006. The economy will grow about 3 percent this year, less than usual during the early phase of a recovery, but few jobs will be added.”

It’s not a record of success by any measure, and having spent over a year producing a health-care bill the country dislikes, Democrats are going to be hard-pressed to defend their economic record. The only question remains is how badly the electorate will punish those who controlled every lever of government and failed to deliver on their economic promises.