President Barack Obama briefly addressed the country on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the start of the financial crisis that would see the middle class loose most of its wealth. The president rightfully chastised the obstruction on congress, blasting the Republican threats to shut down the government unless the he agrees to de-fund the Affordable Care Act and he patted himself on the back for how far the economy has come in the last five years.
In his speech the president paints a glowing picture of the economy and his accomplishments:
And so those are the stories that guided everything we’ve done. It’s what those earliest days of the crisis caused us to act so quickly through the Recovery Act to arrest the downward spiral and put a floor under the fall. We put people to work, repairing roads and bridges, to keep teachers in our classrooms, our first responders on the streets. We helped responsible homeowners modify their mortgages so that more of them could keep their homes. We helped jump-start the flow of credit to help more small businesses keep their doors open. We saved the American auto industry.
And as we worked to stabilize the economy and get it growing and creating jobs again, we also started pushing back against the trends that have been battering the middle class for decades, so we took on a broken health care system, we invested in new American technologies to end our addiction to foreign oil, we put in place tough new rules on big banks, rules that we need to finalize before the end of the year, by the way, to make sure that the job is done, and we put in new protections that crack down on the worst practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies.
We also changed a tax code that was too skewed in favor of the wealthiest Americans. We locked in tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans. We asked those at the top to pay a little bit more.
So if you add it all up, over the last three-and-a-half years, our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has come down. Our housing market is healing. Our financial system is safer. We sell more goods made in America to the rest of the world than ever before.
However, his rosy view of the current state of the economy isn’t shared by the 99% who are still struggling with low wage jobs, unemployment, and a housing crisis that is still looming.
The president’s speech makes one wonder who is advising this man and what economy was Obama talking about? Then one remembers that it was his best buddy Larry Summers and the Chicago School of Rubinite cohorts, as The Guardian‘s economics editor Heidi Moore notes in her column. Ms. Moore writes that is time to “end the delusion that this White House has done even a fraction of what it should to help the economy” and concludes that the president has had some poor economic advice:
The president’s economic initiatives – food stamps, manufacturing, infrastructure, raising the debt ceiling, appointing a new chairman of the Federal Reserve – have mostly ended in either neglect or shambles. After five years, the Obama Administration’s stated intentions to improve the fortunes of the middle class, boost manufacturing, reduce income inequality, and promote the recovery of the economy have come up severely short. [..]
Here’s the litany of failure: the president has not pushed through any major stimulus bill since 2009, and most of that was pork-barrel junk. Manufacturing is weak and weakening; the employment gap between the rich and the poor is the widest on record; the economic recovery is actually more like an extended stagnation with 12 million people unemployed; the housing “recovery” will be stalled as long as incomes are low and house prices are high; and quantitative easing as a stimulus, while a heroic independent effort by the Federal Reserve, is past its due date and is no longer improving the country’s fortunes beyond the stock market.
Shall we continue? We don’t have a food stamp bill even though 49 million Americans lack regular access to food. Goldman Sachs analysts have said the sequester is taking a toll on stubbornly growing unemployment: “since sequestration took effect in March, federal job losses have been somewhat more pronounced,” they wrote last week; and another debt ceiling controversy – the third of Obama’s presidency – looms in only a few weeks with the potential to hurt what meager economic growth we can still cling to.
The economy for the vast majority of people and small businesses is not going well and won’t improve in the neat future. One of the people that Pres, Obama has ignored is Pres. Bill Clinton’s former Labor Secretary and economics professor that the University of California, Robert Reich. Prof. Reich sat down with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to discuss the current state of the economy since the fall of Lehman Brothers.
Transcript can be read here
Meanwhile, the president is living in a bubble. Let’s hope his bubble bursts before ours does and he starts to really do something about it.