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Obama's two Americas – The economy and how Democrats win elections

By Dr. Peter Morici
web posted February 17, 2014

President Obama is dividing America into two nations—one rich, the other increasingly poor, and both more likely to elect Democrats. Americans growing richer support his policies, and those growing poorer are increasingly dependent on Democratic politicians for government handouts.

In this century, the economy has not performed well, and a jobs shortage has driven down the income of most Americans.

Obama's "recovery" has managed only 2.4 percent growth, but George W. Bush's expansion scored about the same rate and then collapsed altogether.

Since 2001, when Bush took office, the U.S. economy has created only 4.7 million jobs—about 30,000 a month and less than one-fourth of those needed to keep pace with population growth. For most, wages after inflation and higher state taxes have fallen.

Technology is important. The digital revolution and the shift of news and entertainment to the Internet, cable, eBooks, and the like have effectively killed one million jobs.

Globalization is a culprit. American industry still boasts many of the best products and most efficient factories but has shed 5 million jobs—far more than can be justified by rising productivity.

Manufacturing has enjoyed a small renaissance but has recouped only one in nine lost jobs, because Bush and Obama poorly enforced trade agreements that apply to principal competitors. China, Japan and Germany systematically maintain currency advantages and barriers that artificially under-price their products and block our exports.

Obama has unilaterally imposed environmental and energy policies that needlessly raise costs and penalize competitiveness.

Increasingly workers are divided into two groups.

Those with diplomas from elite universities rely less on sinking U.S. fortunes and more on global markets for their services, or who can simply manipulate markets. Big wealth is concentrated on Wall Street, the Silicon Valley, and Hollywood, and players with monopoly power—like the NFL and your local cable operator.

Meanwhile, the rest of America goes without a job or languishes with sinking wages waiting on the new elite in restaurants and hotels.

One in six men between the ages of 25 and 54 have no jobs, few prospects for finding one, and are increasingly supported by their wives.

Contrary to the cynical alibis of Democratic politicians and feminists, this is not a choice made possible by greater gender equity. During the William Clinton years, when both women and the overall economy made strong gains, the percent of prime-age men working increased, but since has declined precipitously.

Non-elite males don't vote for Democrats and certainly are not likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, so Obama happily pursues policies that marginalize and make them despondent.

Hillary talks endlessly about programs to help girls and women, but little about the plight of those forgotten men and the boys our schools are failing.

Democrats answer these problems with strategies that motivate the poorly and less prestigiously educated to quit the labor force altogether and rely on government largess, and rewards the wealthy elite who finance their campaigns.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare's perverse incentives will motivate 2.3 million low and middle-income Americans not to seek employment. One in seven adults is now covered by food stamps.

Strong enforcement policies and generous tax treatment for intellectual property enhances the wealth of high-profile Democratic contributors in Hollywood and the Silicon Valley.

The Obama Justice Department, unlike its Clinton and Reagan era predecessors, fines banks instead of prosecuting financiers who defraud investors. Then Democratic fundraisers collect commissions from left-leaning bankers and lawyers with seven and eight figure incomes.

IRS stalks conservative political contributors and the Justice Department rifles the phone and email records of reporters. We can't have too many critics stirring up the masses.

The PC police now ensconced at the helm of America's once great universities, limit conservative voices but supply NPR and the New York Times with research that pimps progressive causes.

Wrapping it all together, Democrats win elections cultivating a large contingent of voters whose declining circumstances require substantial government support, and finance their campaigns with contributions from elites profiting from globalization. Critics are squelched, and the Republic declines.

I thank my stars for tenure, but feeding my family and writing this column will only get tougher under the high heels of a President Hillary Clinton. ESR

Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and is a widely published columnist. He tweets @pmorici1





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