Obama's 'middle-crush economics'
By Mark Alexander
Analyzing Barack Obama's 2015 State of the Union, I noted that "middle-class economics" got five mentions, and no doubt would become the centerpiece of his quest to redeem his disastrous legacy.
On that point, I wrote, "Obama will spend the next two years on campaign stumps across the country, spewing his divisive class warfare rhetoric under the name 'middle-class economics.' No doubt he will launch that campaign on college campuses, where some impressionable young idealists still drink his snake oil elixir and make for an enthusiastic political backdrop."
Indeed, the day after his SOTU, Obama launched his tour at Boise State University.
In front of legions of his adoring lemmings, Obama outlined his economic agenda for the next two years: "I focused last night on what we can do, together, to make sure middle-class economics helps more Americans get ahead in the new economy. ... Middle-class economics works. ... Middle-class economics is the idea that this country does best when everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules. ... So here's what middle-class economics requires in this new economy. Number one, it means helping working families feel more secure in a constantly changing economy. It means helping folks afford childcare, and college, and paid leave at work, and health care, and retirement. ... Middle-class economics means that we're going to make sure that folks keep earning higher wages down the road. ... The third part of middle-class economics is about building the most competitive economy in the world. ... You've got the super rich getting giveaways they don't need, and middle-class families not getting the breaks that they do need. ... We need to build middle-class economics."
The next day, Obama delivered the same drivel to adoring youth at the University of Kansas, who also showered him with mindless applause.
Thus, the platform for his final years is set. In the inimitable words of Buzz Lightyear, Obama will be mesmerizing select audiences with this rhetorical ruse "to infinity and beyond."
Obama has developed some traction in his first week out of the gate with his job approval ratings rising along with GDP -- the latter, ironically, supported by increased oil production, which Obama has fervently opposed.
So, let's subject his "middle-class economics" charade to a few reality checks.
It's worth noting, first, why Obama chose this theme for his closing chapters as president.
After the record midterm election defeat of Obama's policies both in Congress and across the nation last November, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a contemptible Leftist but a shrewd politician, appropriately laid blame at Obama's feet, insisting that BO should have spent the last six years focused on economic recovery, not force-feeding Americans his lie-larded ObamaCare stew.
According to Schumer, "Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform. ... Americans were crying out for an end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs ... not for changes in their health care. This makes sense considering that 85 percent of all Americans got their health care from either the government -- Medicare or Medicaid -- or their employer. And if health care costs were going up, it didn't really affect them. ... So when Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats are not paying enough attention to me.'"
Schumer's remarks triggered a fit of decompensating hysteria in Democrat House leader Nancy Pelosi, who protested, "We come here to do a job, not keep a job." But the November results lay bare the fact that a lot of Democrats didn't keep their job because they didn't do the job that needed to be done.
However, as Obama declared in his SOTU, "I have no more campaigns to run," so job security isn't an issue for him.
Thus, trying to salvage his legacy is Job One for this consummate narcissist. And while Obama will never admit it, Schumer's message hit home with him and his fellow Democrats -- which is why "middle-class economics" is now his mantra.
So just what does Obama mean by "middle-class economics" and the "new economy"?
According to Heritage Foundation analysts, there is no textbook reference to "middle-class economics," which is to say, it can and will mean whatever Obama interprets it to mean in furtherance of his statist Democratic Party agenda. Another "blank slate," if you will...
In the context of free enterprise, one could assume "middle-class economics" means advocating economic policies for all walks of life that both affirm job security for average income earners and provide ample opportunity for upward mobility in economies that are always evolving. The key tenets of such policies would include reducing taxes and regulations that impede economic growth, thus providing economic security for all Americans, whether they call themselves conservative or liberal.
However, as Obama and his Leftist cadres have clearly demonstrated, they oppose free enterprise, believing instead that centralized economic planning by way of income redistribution and regulation will lead to "fairness," making sure everybody gets a "fair shot" and is doing their "fair share."
Recall his absurd and patently false assessment of the American Dream: "If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."
Because Obama has never so much as operated a corner lemonade stand, he has absolutely no context for understanding the entrepreneurial spirit and free market system that has made America the world's leading economic engine since World War II.
Peddling his new "middle-class economics" farce, Obama suggests that he has the key to securing middle-class prosperity, when in fact he's done nothing but repackage his old failed policies in a new, shiny wrapper.
In reality, "middle-crush economics" more accurately illustrates the impact of Obama's policies on middle-class America.
The New York Times -- not my first source for economic insights -- offered last week some useful perspective on the middle class that takes Obama's plans to task.
According to the Times, "In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today's dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets [emphasis added]."
However, the Times noted that over the last 15 years "the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow [because] more people have fallen to the bottom [emphasis added]." As economic analyst Michael Strain observes, "In the Great Recession, we lost a lot of middle-income jobs and we gained a lot of low-paying jobs. That's a slower-burning thing, but it increased in ferocity during the recession, and people are feeling it."
In other words, the Obama recession, which was virtually institutionalized by his failed "economic recovery plan," is largely responsible for the hemorrhaging of former middle-income earners into the ranks of low-income earners.
Furthermore, the Times made this accidentally adroit observation: "Fewer of those in [the middle class] fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home."
Indeed, as noted in a recent American Enterprise Institute study, "The growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today." So, much of our nation's wealth gap is due to a marriage and family gap. And Obama's "middle-class" plan does nothing to support married couples with children -- in fact, quite the contrary.
That notwithstanding, under the cover of "middle-class economics," Obama is trotting out even more taxation, regulation and social engineering policies, which have a proven record of undermining middle-class families, job stability and upward mobility. In the inimitable words of that great American philosopher Yogi Berra: "It's déjà vu all over again."
From Obama's perspective, the failed "Great Society" policies of the 1960s are the ideal models for government social and economic intervention today.
Because Obama can do the math, and, as an elitist class warrior, he understands that generating ever-greater dependency on government will fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge of "fundamentally transforming" our country. Those words may seem dated now, but that remains Obama's core objective, no matter how creatively he repackages his propaganda.
To that end, Obama's "middle-crush economics" plan was aptly summarized by his billionaire Demo friend Jeff Greene at the climate confab in Switzerland last week. Greene, another leftist hypocrite who private-jetted his family and two nannies to the conference, had this advice for the middle class: "America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted... We need to reinvent our whole system of life."
Perhaps Green meant, "We need to transform our whole system of life."
Of course, before his term is up, BO's newest legacy charade is likely to be completely obscured by his current list of colossal policy failures, particularly his abject foreign policy malfeasance -- and certainly if it is determined that one or more of his illegally released Gitmo terrorists is back in the game murdering Americans.
(Footnote: Obama has already backed down on one of his SOTU "fairness" tax increases, the one on college savings accounts. And, regarding failed economic policies, in a recent report on the top 10 states where the middle class is under the greatest duress, it is no surprise that eight of the 10 are Democrat strongholds, most notably California, which topped the list.)
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.