It’s not surprising that President Obama’s re-election strategy is to “cast himself as a middle class warrior.” What is surprising is that he thinks he can get away with it. The fact that he actually might says less about Obama than about Americans’ understanding of economics and the Republicans’ particular skill at turning smart policy into stupid politics.
The obvious question when a politician wants to run as a champion of any particular group is “what has he done for that group?” So, let’s think about what Obama has done for, or — more precisely — to, the middle class.
Unemployment, the single most important economic statistic for the middle class, spiked to over 10 percent before recently “improving” to 8.6 percent (with December data due out Friday, January 6). The last time unemployment was this high was in 1983, coming out of the Jimmy Carter recession. Under Reagan, the unemployment rate dropped 2.5 percent in one year from its peak and another full percent in the subsequent year. Under Obama, the rate has dropped only 1.5 percent in two years from its peak.
This is no accident. The slowest economic recovery in modern American history is a direct result of Obama’s policies.
The administration’s doomed-to-fail Keynesian economic approach is based on assuming that Americans, and especially entrepreneurs, are stupid. They trust that we don’t realize that massive deficit spending now must translate into higher taxes later (and perhaps higher interest rates, though historically that connection is not as strong as one might expect).
But harming employment is not all Obama has done and will do to the middle class. A recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) notes that Obamacare will “impose a cumulative cost of nearly $5,000 per family by 2020” through increased health insurance costs as well as “reduc[ing] private sector employment by 125,000 to 249,000 jobs in 2021, with 59 percent of those losses falling on small business.”