September 6, 2013
In a recent CNN op-ed, Newt Gingrich criticized the president's idea of launching "a few missiles at Syria" as a "meaningless public relations use of military force" that allows the administration to avoid facing the nation's "really big" national security issues, namely, the threat of radical Islam, Iran's nuclear program, and untargeted defense cuts imposed by the sequester.
As is often the case, the former Speaker performed an admirable public service by insightfully addressing the big picture regarding a policy issue, this one all the more in need of thoughtful criticism as a result of Barack Obama's cosmetic vision of military force, including his incredibly amateurish telegraphing.
However, while President "I Didn't Set a Red Line" who has dithered feebly on the Syria issue for the past two years likely wants to shoot off a couple of Tomahawks as a sorry attempt to convince Vladimir Putin he is much more than a vainglorious blusterer of egotistical speeches, it is just as likely he harbors the additional motive of shoring up his standing with an American public increasingly dissatisfied with his performance on the economy.
Problem is, the odds he can achieve the first goal are the same as those faced by the proverbial snowball; and the same is true for the second, an assertion supported by a number of complementary charts reported by John Mauldin.
Those charts, compiled by GaveKal Data and the St. Louis Federal Reserve's FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Database), reveal the following realities:
▪ While part-time job growth has increased steadily since the late 1990's, full-time job growth has suffered two significant downturns in the last ten years. Moreover, the current number of full-time jobs now stands at the 1999 level, below the peak not just of 2008 but the former peak achieved in 2002.
▪ The total number of Americans employed today stands at the 2006 level. Furthermore, there are two million fewer Americans employed today as compared to the 2007-2009 employment peak, explaining that "The only reason the unemployment rate has fallen at all [from its 10% level in '09-'10] is that several million people have simply left the labor force."
▪ The total number of working Americans age 25-54 is currently 94.5 million, 6 million below the 2007 number and 2.5 million below the number employed in 2003.
▪ The total number of working Americans age 55+ has risen by a stunning 10 million or 47% over the past ten years, 4 million of the total having been added since the recession of 2008.
▪ Correlating inversely (amazingly so) with the rise in part-time jobs, today's median income has fallen sharply from equal peaks it reached in 1991 and again in 2002.
With respect to the cause of the falling fortunes of millions of American workers as well as young people looking to establish themselves in solid careers, John Mauldin presents data arguing for artificially low interest rates as the main culprit, arguing that their effect is "to subsidize what are effectively overpaid financial jobs and undermine employment prospects within traditional sectors."
Regarding who is currently responsible for this ultimately destructive monetary policy, he observes that while Fed Chair Paul Volcker (appointed by Carter and reappointed by Reagan) "cared for the interests of ordinary people over those of investment bankers," Ben Bernanke (with an expedient Obama in full support) is creating an American underclass and a "parallel class" of the "super-rich," a reality that will give rise to "many consequences, not all of them pretty."
So, what do those economic realities have to do with the near impossibility Obama will gain traction with the public?
Foremost, they tell us that the biggest myth sold to the American public after the Election of 2008 is that Barack Obama is a "transformative" president; for the record shows that like the worst of same-old politicians, he has never spoken honestly with the American people about the fundamental problems afflicting the nation's economy but has taken every opportunity to expand the size and scope of government with the aim of securing his reelection and advancing the reach of his power-loving ideology.
That irony explains why his policies, especially his cheap money largesse, have enriched bankers and others who comprise the nation's growing "super-rich," have harmed workers from the middle class on down, including small business owners who employ from one or two to one or two hundred of their fellow citizens, and have jeopardized the integrity of retirement accounts, both for retirees and current workers of every age who have been forced to reduce bond holdings to seek income from much more speculative vehicles.
Adding a grave insult to those profound economic injuries is the unconscionable, arrogant, and deceitful non-real-reform healthcare law the president and his allies jammed down the nation's throat.
Indeed, its major ironic effects are to kill full-time jobs, increase taxes, increase health insurance premiums, destroy the security of people's current health insurance policies, weaken Medicare and Medicaid, do nothing to reduce the frightening inflation in healthcare costs, and, as Garrett Baldwin of wallstreetexminer.com excellently points out, enormously increase the number of highly paid, former politician and bureaucrat lobbyists employed by corporations and other powerful interests to use government to distort markets and "drive fair competition into the ground."
With the shocks of Obamacare soon to be added to the economic pain already afflicting the American public, it is plain that whatever happens with respect to Syria, the president will face increasing public disapproval as he completes his second term.
To put it another way, it's possible to borrow from Ann Coulter's recent title ("Community Organizer Goes to War") and say that despite any amount of public relations bombing, Obama will pay a dear price as the public comes to understand more fully what happens when "Community Organizer Directs US Economy."
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