Imagine that you had the chance to sit down with the President of the United States and you could ask him any question. What would you ask?
Many of us would probably try to figure whether he thought his economic initiatives were ill-conceived and whether they should be altered or discontinued.
What do you think he would say?
Well, you don’t have to imagine any longer because ABC affiliate WVEC’s David Alan asked for you.
“How have we become a country where so many members of the middle class go to bed at night wondering if they going to be able to keep their homes and put food on the table and send their kids to college?” Alan asked the president. “Do you take any personal responsibility for your administration creating that condition?”
"We didn't create the condition. We haven't solved it fully yet because it was three decades in the making," President Obama replied.
Watch the president's response (via WVEC):
“I mean, if you look at the trend lines, essentially what’s happened is that because of automation, because of globalization, you had a lot of manufacturing move out of the United States. Businesses got more efficient, they needed fewer workers, they had more leverage over workers, and all this added up to a tougher time for middle class families," the president explained.
So, if one is to understand the president correctly, the current economic crisis facing middle-class America was created by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush? And it has been exacerbated by “automation”?
While one could argue that Alan's question was loaded, and that it was specifically designed to prompt an admission of failure from the president, it is very difficult to view President Obama's response as anything but “passing the buck.”
The president continued, explaining his plans to “grow the middle-class” and then arguing in favor of his economic policies.
“The good news is that we still have the best universities in the world, the most innovative businesses in the world the best workers in the world, [and] the freest market system in the world,” the president said.
First, didn’t the president just blame automated innovation for shrinking the middle-class? Second, Boeing might disagree with his assessment that the U.S. has the “freest market system in the world.”
“We’ve seen our exports go up, we’ve now seen 21 months of job growth (in the private sector), so we’ve got all the tools to refocus and make sure that we’re growing our middle class again,” the president said. “But we’re going to have to do some smart things to do it: improve our education system, invest in infrastructure, invest in basic science and technology, and make sure the rules of the road are fair and that everybody is doing their fair share.”
Again, there seem to be some serious discrepancies in the president’s claims. First, "21 month of job growth"? In what sector?
“The fact is, new jobs are being added at a far lower rate than a decade ago, as the chart below shows. And it’s that tepid job growth that explains America’s unacceptably high unemployment rate,” writes Mike Brownfield of The Heritage Foundation.
Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would show that the president's "21 months of job growth" hasn't worked out too well for many Americans:
Secondly, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) must be thrilled to hear the president’s pledge to reinvest U.S. resources in science and technology. Recently, they’ve been a little, what’s the word, “underutilized”?
And then there’s the president’s oft-repeated call for the wealthy to pay their “fair share.” Even though “fair share” has been questioned, dissected, and disputed (almost to the point of nausea), no one from the Obama administration has offered to define what that actually looks like. Perhaps they will continue to repeat it until no one questions it any more.
(h/t Weasel Zippers)