You’ve likely heard the spin lines and talking points from Obama loyalists claiming Barack Obama’s presidency netted the longest period of job growth in the last xyz years or maybe even “ever.”
It’s a shame that people view things through shaded glasses and bias. In the case of this so-called “continued job growth,” we need to examine the claims and determine what has actually “grown.”
At this point, we have more federal workers than ever before. More than 1.4 million people collecting government salaries according to the congressional budget. That’s a 10 percent jump from the time Obama took office. The government has never employed so many people. Think about that.
So we’ll add this to our evaluation of President Obama’s economic record. Government employees don’t result from a healthy economy. They don’t result from policies that allow businesses to start up and grow. They simply result from a president adding new salaries to the bill paid by the taxpayers – and businesses who employ people are also taxpayers. So we very well can’t say that Obama knew his stuff on the economy or that “Obamanomics” was some great thing that led to job growth based solely on the job numbers (which aren’t impressive anyway and we’ll get to that in a minute).
Many of us remember as children, going to one of our parents and telling them that we wanted some money to buy the latest toy or some other item. Say an eight year old boy asks his mom for money for a new football. His mom says, “Well, I have some chores I guess you could do. Go make your bed, dust off the coffee table, and dry these dishes and I’ll give you the money for a new football.” That’s pretty much the equivalent to more federal jobs being added. Are some of them good and important? Sure, but in many cases it was simply a case of “finding something to be done” so that President Obama could claim job growth.
The jobs haven’t been coming from a healthy economy making it where businesses could expand and, therefore, need to hire in solid or large numbers. It was just the taxpayers having their bill increased even more. And we’ve seen how that has worked. At the time of this writing, the U.S. national debt is at a record level at $19,934,670,800,000. That’s nearly $20 trillion dollars! It’s never been that high before and it has increased more under President Obama than under any president in history. So the new government jobs didn’t even come from a healthy government bank account. They were funded by digging deeper into colossal, disturbing, and astronomical debt.
There was some increase in private sector jobs – a very large number of them being part-time jobs – but there were also losses. One of the things often ignored during this presidency is the job addition versus population addition. Under President Reagan, for example, starting in 1982 the population grew by 12.4 million but the number of jobs grew by 18.4 million.
Under President Obama the population has grown by 20 million but gained by his own claims, 14 million. There is a difference. With population growth, there is more purchasing and more demand for goods and services. That should result in more jobs without the president having to do anything. But, based on population growth, job increases weren’t impressive at all. Based on the way economists used to measure a president’s term in job growth, Obama’s would be a loss of 6 million jobs (20 million population growth but only 14 million jobs is a gap of 6 million jobs).
And to the claim that Obama likes to make of 73 months of job addition, well, consider what has been said above and then consider this: The gains were small which might cause one to say, “Well, at least they were consistent.” Sure, but can anyone even name something that Obama has done to stimulate natural job growth? Again, I’m not talking about something taxpayer funded, I’m talking about something that Obama has done to reduce the government-imposed burden on businesses both large and small so that they could naturally flourish without the artificial hand of the government. The answer is, nothing.
And concerning this, “consistent” argument, what if a basketball player stood right under the goal and made a simple bank shot, one after the other with no defender? Would anyone be impressed? That’s the case of the economy when you have the government adding federal employees to the taxpayers’ bill resulting in a total record number of federal employees and when you have record population growth that increases demand of goods and services. In light of those simple facts, job growth at the numbers under Obama have been the least that could have been done. The economy is not healthy or else we would’ve seen the fed raise interest rates. But Obama hasn’t wanted them to and so they haven’t so that the weak economy wouldn’t completely cave. It’s really that simple.
Last month, after Bernie Sanders decided to sell out and campaign for Hillary Clinton, said this:
“Let’s be honest, real unemployment remains much too high if you add people who don’t have any jobs with people who are working part time that want to work full time. You know, anybody who works part time that wants to work full time. A lot of people out there have given up looking for work in high unemployment areas. Real unemployment is over nine percent.”
In addition to the fake unemployment rate claims in which this administration has tweaked the way that number is determined by counting people with part-time jobs as “employed” so that the so-called “unemployment rate” looks good for Obama, under his watch the participation rate in the job market has actually choked, resulting in another record number for the Obama years. That number is 94,609,000 people who are not in the labor force. Never before have that many people been out of work in the United States. So just that number by itself tells us that Obama’s claims of a 5% unemployment rate is completely bogus and that Bernie Sanders saying the real percentage is over 9% is far more accurate.
What Trump has done, before he’s even sat in the commander’s chair in the Oval Office, is to go directly to manufacturing companies and look at the government’s role in the negatives impacting them. This was Trump’s first instinct because, unlike President Obama, Trump has had to make payrolls, he’s had to struggle with running his business against the friction and hostility of the U.S. government. He knows what it’s like out there. That’s why his tax policy will lower the corporate/business tax rate from the world’s highest at 35% to 15% which will allow U.S. businesses to be much more competitive internationally, will make the economic environment much more conducive to small business being able to grow to medium and large sized businesses resulting in higher employment numbers, and will encourage new businesses to start up – something that has been at near record lows under Obama. Already we have seen jobs saved and already we’ve seen commitments from foreign corporations to actually come to the United States to do business instead of our corporations leaving and taking their jobs with them to the economically friendlier waters of our foreign competitors.
With the addition of Trump renegotiating trade deals and refusing to enter ones where the U.S. is disadvantaged, natural, or we could even call it, “organic,” job growth will occur again. It won’t be dependent on government spending or on population growth – it will be because the weights on the shoulders of U.S. entrepreneurialism and enterprise will be reduced and the freedom to prosper will exist in greater amount. And that’s a big deal.
Rhett October is on Twitter @RhettOctober