New income data from the Census Bureau reveal what a great job Barack Obama has done for the middle class as President. During his entire tenure in the oval office, median household income has declined by 7.3%.
In January, 2009, the month he entered office, median household income was $54,983. By June, 2012, it had spiraled down to $50,964. That’s a loss of $4,019 per family, the equivalent of losing a little less than one month’s income a year, every year. And on our current course that is only going to get worse not better.
Obama never tires of telling us that the economy was in one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression when he entered office, as if he was the only President to have suffered a recession early in his term. But nobody expected that he would use the vast powers of the most powerful office in the world to make it worse. But that is what he has done.
Even if you start from when the recession ended in June, 2009, the decline since then has been greater than it was during the recession. Three years into the Obama recovery, median family income had declined nearly 5% by June, 2012 as compared to June, 2009. That is nearly twice the decline of 2.6% that occurred during the recession from December, 2007 until June, 2009. As the Wall Street Journal summarized in its August 25-26 weekend edition, “For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.”
The Journal elaborated, “The President portrays the financial decline of American families on his watch as part of a decades-long trend. He’s wrong. Real income for middle income households rose by roughly 30% from 1983 to 2005, according to the Congressional Budget Office.” And MSNBC hosts, listen up, you might learn something. The Journal further explains, “The political left likes to blame the ebbing of union power. But non-government unionization fell dramatically in the 1980s and 90s, and incomes rose.”
True, income growth lagged from where it should have been during the Bush years. But that only reflected the abandonment of half of Reagan’s economic program during those years. While Bush’s tax rate reductions did promote growth, Bush and the Republican Congress lost control of federal spending during the 2000s. Federal spending as a percent of GDP increased by one-seventh during the Bush years, almost exactly reversing the gains that had been won under Speaker Gingrich’s Republican Congress in the 1990s. (Clinton played a good rhetorical game appearing to fight the spending reductions, but deserves great credit for substantively giving into them in the end.)
But more important by far was that the Bush Fed abandoned the Reagan/Clinton strong dollar monetary policy for a cheap dollar, Keynesian style monetary policy, falling for the dopey Keynesian line that a cheap currency promotes exports. The Bush Treasury Secretaries cheered this debasement of the Fed’s monetary policy, reflecting the dark cloud of reemerging Keynesian influence on national economic policy.
What is overlooked is that a declining dollar may reduce the prices of American exports, but it makes the entire nation poorer in the process, reducing the international purchasing power of every dollar every American worker earns, and reducing the international value of every asset owned by every American investor, business entrepreneur, and property owner.
The problem is that Obama has only greatly accelerated everything Bush did wrong, and reversed everything Bush did right. So Obama’s spending has skyrocketed the federal budget by nearly one-fourth as a percent of GDP in just one term. Moreover, the Obama Fed has abandoned any semblance of control over monetary policy, buying most of the soaring federal debt issued to finance Obama’s record smashing federal deficits with newly printed money (actually created by computer record, a sort of cyberprinting). Of course, the whole point of Obama’s tax policy has been to more than reverse the Bush tax rate cuts, which is now already slated under current law to go into effect on January 1.
That is why it will all only get worse in a second Obama term, as the economy slides back into a double-dip recession in 2013 unless these Obama policies are swiftly reversed. I first began ringing alarm bells about that a year ago with the publication of my Encounter Books Broadside No. 25, Obama and the Crash of 2013. But now even the Washington establishment CBO is pealing the air raid siren as well.