Authors: Matt Margolis,Mark Noonan
We would like to thank Beth Margolis, Cheryl Noonan, Ali A. Akbar, and Elliott & Caryl Margolis, for their support and encouragement throughout the process of writing this book, including help with proofreading and feedback. We also wish to thank David B. Schmidt and Stan Needham, LCDR, USNR-Retired, for their assistance with the research for this book, as well as all of those who have blogged with us over the years.
When Americans are asked “Who is the worst president in history?” and “Who is the best president in history?” one man ranks high on both lists: Barack Hussein Obama.
How can he appear on both lists so frequently? The truth is, polls won’t tell you much except that the respondents have stronger feelings, good and bad, about recent presidents than those of many years past. As opinionated as we Americans are about how Obama measures up, history will be the ultimate judge.
The goal of this book is make sure the truth about Obama’s record is not forgotten, so that history can make an honest, informed assessment of the Obama presidency. History will want Obama to be viewed favorably because he’s the first black president. But we can’t afford to let political correctness rewrite his true record.
We have a responsibility to ensure that history won’t gloss over Obama’s failures. It’s true that all presidents, even those who are judged favorably, are flawed people with imperfect records. But sometimes history ignores the most valuable lessons of our most transformative political figures. Bill Clinton takes credit for a booming economy that would have never happened had it not been for Newt Gingrich and his Contract With America. Franklin Delano Roosevelt is credited with ending the Great Depression despite the fact he prolonged it.
Unlike FDR, Obama won’t be able to hide his record or run for three terms while a generation adapts to the new normal. So honesty has a fighting chance this time. We will document the truth about Obama’s record for future generations, so they will know the true history and won’t be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
After Obama was reelected, we decided it was time to compile everything about Obama’s record that the media and academia chose to ignore (or cover up) so that the people could have all the facts in one place. There’s a lot of information on the following pages, more information than most people can remember in its entirety, and certainly more information than was ever discussed during the 2012 presidential election. Some failures are more egregious than others, but each reveal inconvenient facts about Obama’s real legacy. This isn’t about partisanship. This is about the truth.
History is the ultimate judge, we just want to make sure that history gets it right.
On Election Day 2008, the biggest issue was the economy. With the economic meltdown of September fresh in everyone’s memory, many Americans voted for Obama because he promised change from what appeared to a majority to be the Republican’s failure on the economy. Obama promised to get our economy back on track. Obama would later claim that actions he took prevented a second Great Depression. But the record proves otherwise.
To hear Obama tell it in 2009, the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would usher in a new era of American prosperity. Obama promised the American people that by spending hundreds of billions of dollars we would keep unemployment low, reduce poverty, create a new green economy, and provide shovel-ready projects that would rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
None of that happened.
All we got for our huge investment was a mountain of new debt,
a long list of failed “green energy” companies,
an infrastructure that remains insufficient,
and a “recovery” adding fewer jobs than needed to keep up with population growth. To say Obama’s stimulus failed to deliver is a huge understatement.
At the end of 2012, James Pethokoukis, blogger and columnist at the American Enterprise Institute, compared Obama’s forecasts in 2009 to what actually happened in terms of economic growth:
1. In August of 2009, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 4.3% in 2011, followed by 4.3% growth in 2012 (and 4.3% in 2013, too).
2. In its 2010 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.5% in 2012, followed by 4.4% growth in 2013, 4.3% in 2014.
3. In its 2011 forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.1% in 2011, 4.0% in 2012, 4.5% in 2013, and 4.2% in 2014.
4. In its most recent forecast, Team Obama predicted GDP would rise 3.0% this year and next, and then 4.0% after that.
Instead, GDP grew 2.4% in 2010, and 1.8% last year. So far this year, quarterly growth has been 2.0%, 1.3%, and 2.7% — with maybe 1.5% in the current quarter. Instead of quarter after quarter of 4% growth, we’ve had just two: The final quarters of 2009 and 2011. Other than those, we’ve haven’t had a single quarter with growth higher than this quarter’s 2.7%. It’s why we still have massive employment and output gaps.
We’ll explain other failures of the stimulus to do as was promised later in this book.
Cash for Clunkers
Many of Obama’s attempts to stimulate the economy were probably well-intentioned, but they were definitely foolhardy. Government programs often have unintended consequences and ultimately, do more harm than good.
The Car Allowance Rebate System (more commonly known as Cash for Clunkers) was a program meant to stimulate the auto industry by enticing car owners to purchase newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles by offering a rebate on their older, less fuel-efficient vehicle. The program was such a “success” that the original $1 billion allocated for the program wasn’t enough, and another $2 billion had to be approved to keep the program going.
But the program did not stimulate the auto industry like Obama claimed it would. It is true that auto sales jumped because of the program, but that jump in sales was temporary. People who were likely to buy a new car in the near future just bought a new car sooner. Others with perfectly functioning cars also took advantage of the program, but the used cars they traded in weren’t resold, but destroyed. Functioning vehicles which may have had many tens of thousands of miles of life left in them were sent to junkyards just because they were slightly less fuel-efficient than the cars they were being replaced with. Thus, Cash for Clunkers also became a prime example of how programs with seemingly good intention have bad, unintended consequences. Used-car dealers took a major hit, as cars that normally would have been resold ended up in junkyards. Many of these used-car dealers were small-businesses that were already struggling.
Low-income families that often buy used-cars saw prices go up. Estimates are that the average cost of a used car went up by $1,800 in the year after cash for clunkers was enacted.
In short, Cash for Clunkers merely gave participants a small rebate for purchasing new vehicles which eventually would have been purchased anyway, all while generating massive amounts of waste, crippling the used-car business and doing nothing to stimulate the auto industry. Hardly worth the $3 billion price tag.
Lower Wages for American Workers
One sign of an improving economy is an increase in wages. As economic activity picks up, companies start hiring more employees and the pool of available talent starts to dry up. In order to attract and retain good workers, employers start paying more money. When Obama was running for reelection, he kept saying that the economy was in recovery, and we were moving in the right direction. But, “The Obama Recovery” actually saw a net
in worker pay. Adjusted for inflation, the average pay of the American worker fell 0.7 percent between 2011 and 2012.
Decline in Workforce Participation Rate
Context is vital when assessing economic figures. The official unemployment rate, the U3 rate, measures only people who are both out of work and actively looking for work. This unemployment number does not include those underemployed, or those who have given up looking for work. So while Obama trumpeted a slowly falling U3 unemployment rate as progress, when considering the workforce participation rate, this falling rate was anything but progress.
The workforce participation rate is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and indicates the percentage of Americans sixteen years of age and older who are participating in the labor force. It excludes retirees, stay-at-home parents, disabled persons, etc. The record high participation rate was reached in May of 2000 when fully 67.3 percent of Americans over 16 were participating in the labor force. When Obama took office, as we were heading in to the worst part of the recession, the participation rate was still high at 65.7 percent. By November 2012, the participation rate plummeted to 63.8 percent, a figure not seen since the early 1980’s.
The drop in the size of the labor force may have been bad for the economy, but it did help Obama claim the economy was in recovery by reducing the number the people considered unemployed in the U3 unemployment rate.
Unemployment Above 8 percent for 43 months
Perhaps the most significant broken promise of Obama’s stimulus was that it would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. This was the promise Obama and White House economists made to sell the stimulus to the public. Had Obama’s projections been a reality, the economy would have recovered to roughly where it had been prior to the 2008 financial crash.
Not only did unemployment
stay below 8 percent, it hit 10.1 percent in October of 2009. The actual U3 unemployment rate at the end of Obama’s first term was 7.8 percent. Obama promised it would be 5.2 percent with the stimulus.
In fact, based on Obama’s own projections in 2009, the economy did worse with his stimulus plan than he predicted it would without it, and the unemployment rate remained over 8 percent for 43 straight months.
In September 2012, the American Enterprise Institute posted an updated graph of the one originally prepared by White House economists in January 2009, which showed their projections for the unemployment rate with and without the stimulus, and added the actual monthly unemployment rates. Not only was the unemployment rate worse than predicted, had the labor participation rate been the same in August 2012 as it had been in January 2009, the unemployment rate would have been 11.2 percent, 3.1 percentage points higher than the actual U3 rate according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
People Unemployed Longer Than Ever
The definition of “long term unemployed” is those persons who are unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. When Obama first took office, the number of persons in this category was 2.6 million. By June 2012, that number exploded to 5.3 million people.
In a healthy economy, the number of people who are long-term unemployed is tiny, sometimes making up only a percent or two of the total number unemployed.
Under Obama, the percentage of unemployed who are long-term unemployed has frequently been above 40 percent. In Obama’s America, unemployment has become the new norm.
High Minority, Female, and Youth Unemployment
Obama was elected and reelected with the enthusiastic support of a large percentage of minorities, women and young Americans. Unfortunately for them, Obama could not repay this ardent support with economic policies that gave them any hope for the future. When it was reported that the overall unemployment rate for the United States had finally, after 43 months, dropped below 8 percent, it was also reported that the unemployment rate among African-American and Latino youth (ages 18-29) was, respectively, a staggering 22.4 percent and 13.7 percent.
These are Great Depression levels of unemployment.
The overall rate for youth unemployment in America hovered around 16 percent in 2012. These young people are America’s future. They are supposed to be learning the job skills necessary to build up a prosperous, happy life in decades to come. Instead, America’s youths are being robbed of their future by the failed economic policies of Obama.
Women are also struggling on Obama’s watch. While the recession hurt men more, women are hurting more in the so-called “recovery.” By September 2012, 4.1 million women were driven out of the workforce, and unemployment for single women hit 12.9 percent, up from 10.1 percent when Obama took office.
Massive Increases in Federal Regulations
According to a report compiled for the Small Business Administration, complying with federal regulations cost the United States economy $1.75 trillion in 2008.
To put that number into perspective, it is about 50 percent greater than the price paid privately by American citizens for their health care. To be sure, some regulations add a net benefit to the economy. If we didn’t regulate against dumping raw sewage in to our drinking water, then the follow-on costs of cleaning up the water (as well as treating those harmed by the contaminated water) would probably be much higher than the cost of regulating. But at a cost of $1.75 trillion, it is clear that the overall effect of regulation is a net cost to the economy. This is because most regulations are not common-sense things such as regulating against dumping raw sewage in to drinking water. An American citizen who owns a cow cannot sell milk from that cow to their neighbor without violating federal regulations on the sale of milk.
From January 2009 through December 2011, the bound edition of the Code of Federal Regulations grew 7.4 percent, or 11,327 pages. This increase during Obama’s first three years in office significantly outpaced the 4.4 percent increase in regulations during President Bush’s first three years in office.
This sounds pretty bad. But it’s worse when you consider that this assessment still does
include many yet-to-be-written regulations for Obamacare or the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Remember, the cost of complying with federal regulation was already $1.75 trillion in 2008 and since then the amount of regulations have skyrocketed and all policies of Obama indicate a massive additional increase in regulations as long as he is President.
Pro-Unions, Not Pro-Jobs
Obama has always been able to count on the support of unions. And unions have also been able to count on Obama to support their efforts to increase their power and influence. Even at the expense of our country’s economy.
Currently, in order for a company to unionize, there must be a secret ballot election among the workers. When their ballots are secret, workers are more likely to vote against unionization. Hence the Employee Free Choice Act, or “Card Check,” which effectively eliminates secret ballot elections by having union organizers acquires signatures of at least 50 percent the employees on a union membership card. This not only opens the possibility of intimidation to sign the membership card, but anyone who refused to sign the card will be open to retaliation by union members once the union is certified.
A voter’s right to secret ballot is a sacred American value, and one would think that support for secret ballot voting would be universal. Not so. Barack Obama supports card check. This opposition to secret ballot elections goes against America’s traditionally democratic way of deciding things, and it’s unfathomable that an American president would support it, especially given the negative economic impact of forced unionization.
States with forced unionization have worse job creating records than their right-to-work counterparts. Still, with union participation on the decline (down nearly 50 percent from 1983 to 2011), Obama has seen plenty of pressure to help out this traditionally liberal voting bloc. Aside from his support of a federal Card Check law, Obama also opposes state level right-to-work laws.