Imagine if in 2012 we had elected a businessman instead of a community organizer as president.
Why, maybe the stock market would be breaking records so frequently it would become old hat and the economy would have the longest streak of monthly private-sector job gains in its history, including a streak of 200,000-plus jobs produced for five consecutive months, a feat not accomplished since the Clinton-era boom.
Had we elected a businessman in 2012, the unemployment rate, which had been at, above or near 8 percent after peaking at 10 percent – a fact Republican politicians reminded us of daily – would fall so rapidly, the Federal Reserve and most economists would be taken by surprise.
Corporate profits would be at an all-time high. Wages would finally see some real growth for the first time since the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Heck, to top it all off, America would become the world’s largest oil producer, the pace of layoffs would slow to less than half the rate seen in the financial crisis, the deficit would fall by almost a trillion dollars since 2009, and health care costs would continue on a four-year slowdown, brightening the country’s mid-term fiscal outlook.
All of that could have been ours. Instead, we re-elected a man who walked away from a potentially lucrative life on Wall Street after graduating from Harvard Law School to help poor people on the streets of Chicago.
Of course the truth is, we did get all of that without a businessman in the White House. On the day the Labor Department reported that our unemployment rate had dropped to 6.1 percent (some Fed officials believe full employment is 5.5 percent) and we completed a three-month stretch in which we created an average of 272,000, the Dow Jones Industrials topped 17,000 points and the S&P 500 approached 2000, firsts in Wall Street history. The 288,000 jobs created in June represented the record 52nd consecutive month jobs were created. The expectation is that will be extended this month.
“Now you are seeing hiring that’s more broad based since the 1990s,” Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp., told CBSMarketwatch.com
A day later, Bloomberg News reported that the U.S. had overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, which has kept gas prices from skyrocketing. And we will soon be the world’s overall energy producer.
This is happening as a four-year slowdown in health care costs and spending have been extended into 2014. Health care costs represent the country’s biggest long-term fiscal threat, meaning the slowdown, if it continues, would save us billions and lessen the pressure to drastically alter or cut Medicare. And a federal deficit that was almost $1.5 trillion when Obama got into office is estimated to be less than $500 billion now. The irony is that had we not reduced the deficit so fast, the unemployment rate would have fallen even faster, with more people back to work sooner. (That’s what happened during the Reagan-era economic turnaround, a big increase in government spending and public jobs.)
It’s true that President Obama is not responsible for all of the recent positive economic news. No president has ever been singularly to blame for bad news or the only reason the economy began to heal. But it is a certainty that had there been a President Romney in the White House, the same people downplaying, discounting or ignoring our economic progress today would be hailing this as the new “Morning in America.”
They can’t bring themselves to appreciate the difference between an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month (the one Obama was handed) and one creating more than a quarter of a million jobs every month. While they are talking down the stock gains, had there been a President Romney, they would have declared it was breaking records because we had a man in the White House who didn’t hate Wall Street.
There are legitimate criticisms of Obama’s economic policies, including his administration’s tepid response to millions of struggling homeowners, among other things.
But that’s not what we’ve been getting from his harshest critics. In their minds, as long as he is in office, bad economic news is bad news – and so is good economic news.
Opposing Obama is more important than being grateful that millions who had been shut out of the job market are now finding work.
Maybe Obama should change his last name to Romney, maybe then the country could unite around the economic turnaround we all had been waiting for.
Contact Issac Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or @TSN_IssacBailey.