September 3, 2014

People vote with their pocketbooks.  That has pretty much always been true, and it will be true in November 2014. With that in mind, the president has begun to try and convince voters that the Obama economy is working for them.

At Milwaukee Laborfest in Wisconsin this past weekend, President Obama spoke about how he and the Democrats believe the American economy has strengthened over the last six years. The president told the crowd that “by almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office.” That just isn’t true. And a trove of new analysis proves my point.

A definition of being off-message is when a politician says things to people that differs from what they observe for themselves. Happy talk about the economy doesn’t fool anybody; it makes them angry. According to a George Washington University Battleground poll released today, 54 percent of voters disapprove of the job President Obama is doing on the economy. Even more telling, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from August showed that 49 percent of Americans still think we are in a recession. In that same poll, 76 percent said that they do not feel confident “that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us.”

The truth is, in many ways Americans are worse off today than they were before the recession. Sentier Research released a report showing that median household income is down 4.8 percent from December 2007, when the recession began, and down 3.1 percent from the end of the recession in June 2009. The last time I checked, having less money is not an indication that you are better off.

And, as The Post reported recently, some stunning data from the Pew Charitable Trust shows that from 2007 to 2014, not one state has reported employment gains. Bear with me. This means there is not one state where the percentage of people working today is higher than the percentage of people who were working in that state before the recession. Plus, overall, only 76.2 percent of people aged 25 to 54 are working today, compared with 79.9 percent of that age group who were working in 2007.

The labor force participation rate is still incredibly low, at only 62.9 percent. Democrats can crow about how the unemployment rate has now decreased to 6.2 percent, but the primary reason for that drop is not because people have gone into comfortable retirement; it’s because they can’t find a job. So when the president says that “more folks are working,” people are left shaking their heads, wondering if the president doesn’t know, doesn’t care or thinks it is effective to be deceitful.

There are just too many bothersome facts about the lack of growth and jobs in today’s economy. This administration is the most anti-business administration since World War II, and people who want to work notice.

I don’t ever expect the president to stand in front of a crowd and say “woe is me, I’m a failure,” but when he goes out there and pats himself on the back, crowing about the success of the Obama economy, he only makes his political situation worse.

Follow Ed on Twitter: @EdRogersDC

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
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