Over the summer of 2012 and during the last few months of the presidential campaign, a number of us watched the changing employment numbers and labor statistics with an increasing sense of skepticism. The lamestream press would dutifully report the administration’s numbers and note that the unemployment number was going down slightly, but anyone who looked into the numbers quickly realized that the only reason the numbers ever went down was that with each successive report, the number of people in the workforce kept shrinking. And so things have continued throughout the first few months of 2013.
Tuesday on his Twitter feed, Bruce linked to this article by Mortimer Zuckerman in the Wall Street Journal, which once again confirms what many of us have come to believe about the Obama economy:
The Great Recession is an apt name for America’s current stagnation, but the present phase might also be called the Grand Illusion—because the happy talk and statistics that go with it, especially regarding jobs, give a rosier picture than the facts justify.
The country isn’t really advancing. By comparison with earlier recessions, it is going backward. Despite the most stimulative fiscal policy in American history and a trillion-dollar expansion to the money supply, the economy over the last three years has been declining. After 2.4% annual growth rates in gross domestic product in 2010 and 2011, the economy slowed to 1.5% growth in 2012. Cumulative growth for the past 12 quarters was just 6.3%, the slowest of all 11 recessions since World War II.
And last year’s anemic growth looks likely to continue. Sequestration will take $600 billion of government expenditures out of the economy over the next 10 years, including $85 billion this year alone. The 2% increase in payroll taxes will hit about 160 million workers and drain $110 billion from their disposable incomes. The Obama health-care tax will be a drag of more than $30 billion. The recent 50-cent surge in gasoline prices represents another $65 billion drag on consumer cash flow.
And that’s just the beginning of the article. Read the whole thing if you want to feel even more depressed about the state of the economy than you felt already.
But that’s not even the whole story. Tuesday when I was driving to lunch, I heard Tom Sullivan discussing “America’s Disability
Scam Crisis.” The facts of the disability crisis are alarming enough as it is, but even more surprising was that the facts which inspired the discussion on the Tom Sullivan show were first reported by NPR. Scott Johnson at Powerline noticed and wrote up a post about it entitled “NPR goes Rogue.”
The NPR story linked above is quite long, but it focuses largely on the fact that since Clinton signed “welfare reform” into law, more and more people have been going on to disability and the disability rolls have grown to unsustainable levels. It also mentions the fact that many lawyers and doctors have found a lucrative business focusing on disability cases.
And it gets even worse. As the NPR story reports: “signing up for disability benefits is an excellent way to stay hidden in one key way: People on disability are not counted among the unemployed.” The story continues:
But disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn’t supposed to serve this purpose; it’s not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet. Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then, one economist told me.
As Tom Sullivan emphasized on his show yesterday, the disability rolls have grown dramatically under Obama. Investors Business Daily reported last April that 5.4 million had joined disability between 2009 and early 2012. There also seems to be a strong correspondence between the number counted as unemployed and the number who go on disability. Sullivan suggested that for many people whose unemployment benefits had ended during the past few years, disability has become an alternative source of income.
And, worst of all, the costs are staggering. As NPR reported: “The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined.”
The alarming reality is that not only has the number of people in the workforce declined under Obama, the number on disability has grown at an alarming rate, as has our national debt. And yet, the press can still be counted on to report marginally lower unemployment numbers as though they are good news, while ignoring the many unpleasant realities hiding under the administration’s rearranged statistics.