The Real State of the Union

In his State of the Union speech on February 12, President Barack Obama failed to note that this nation’s 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, was born on the same date 204 years earlier. Perhaps that’s because it was Lincoln who said: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Obama removed all doubt about his foolishness — at least in his public statements, though possibly not in regards to his and fellow progressives’ larger agenda — when he told the assembled senators and congressmen that, concerning the state of the economy, “[W]e have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.”

No it’s not, and all of the insufferable media cheerleading describing jobs reports as “mostly encouraging” even when the official unemployment rate goes up, and about “A U.S. Economy That’s Strengthened Over [the] Past 4 Years,” won’t change that.

The evidence could take up a book. I’ll limit mine to three areas: employment, student loans, and housing.

A February 1 Investor’s Business Daily editorial, which appeared shortly after the government released its January jobs report, laid out the primary truth about the current job market:

It took an average of just 24 months to regain all the jobs lost in the previous nine recessions. But at the current Obama job-creation pace, it will take about 80 months to regain those lost jobs.

Mort Zuckerman, the liberal editor-in-chief at U.S. News who voted for Obama in 2008, recently wrote the following in a Wall Street Journal column:

After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression. But the crisis isn’t seen in that light because the country isn’t confronted daily by scenes of despair like the 1930s photographs of bread lines and soup kitchens …

… The jobless today are much less visible than they were in the 1930s because relief is organized differently.

Zuckerman’s subheadline succinctly detailed the point just made: “Twelve million out of work, 48 million on food stamps, 11 million on disability.”

Even those glum statistics don’t adequately capture the entire problem. Per Zuckerman, “The only work that has increased (since the November 2007 peak in nationwide employment) is part-time, and that is because it allows employers to reduce costs through a diminished benefit package or none at all.” Many employers are also clearly doing all they can to keep all but a few key employees from toiling more than 30 hours per week, because ObamaCare will compel them to treat employees who work 30 or more hours as “full-time,” forcing them to either provide mandatory health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don’t.

Additionally, the jobs that are being obtained are going overwhelmingly to workers who are 55 and older, where employment (again, largely part-time) has grown by 4 million during the past four years. Employment for everyone else during that same period has decreased by almost 3 million. The overall labor force participation rate is back to where it was during the early 1980s, an era when a much higher percentage of spouses voluntarily stayed home to raise their children.

The growing crisis in the government’s student loan programs may be the least publicized trillion-dollar mess in world history. Outstanding balances have grown by $400 billion during just the past four years. During that time, the percentage of loans which is 90 or more days delinquent has skyrocketed from an already awful 8 percent to 11 percent, with most of that increase occurring during just the past few reported quarters.

Why is this happening — and why will the situation probably get much worse? High school grads are going on to college at a record high percentage, but an unprecedented percentage of those who do are ill equipped to succeed in their studies. When they fail, their student loans don’t go away, not even in bankruptcy. If they can get jobs, they probably won’t pay very well. Their student loan payments act as an effective millstone hindering their ability to otherwise advance in life.

The alleged recovery in the housing industry is one of the most heavily publicized economic myths going. We’re supposed to be excited that new home sales are achieving three-years highs, even though today’s level is barely back to where it was during the early-1980s recession, when the U.S. population was 25 percent lower. Today’s level of homebuilding activity is about half of what it should be in a truly healthy economy. Though it’s clear that the housing bubble engineered by government frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and assisted by previous Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan caused home prices to increase beyond reason during the previous decade, the fact remains that inflation-adjusted home prices are right back where they were in 1990. So much for a home being a great long-term investment.

Uncanny in its inability to learn from past mistakes, risky lending policies and decisions have taken yet another government housing entity, this time the Federal Housing Authority, to the brink of insolvency. Last week, the Government Accountability Office “released a report stating … (that it) is a ‘high risk’ entity.”

Lincoln said something else about foolishness which ties directly into Obama’s State of the Union address: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” As the nation’s Obama-induced economic malaise continues, the roster of those who are being fooled will continue to shrink.

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  • AdinaK

    The real state of the union is an economic nightmare, soon to explode under the weight of ObamaCare. And don't think for a nanosecond that the gang in Washington doesn't know this. After all, they crafted within its bowels gun control, and that is not for nothing –

    Bomblets waiting to go off….

    Adina kutnicki, Israel

  • dickymo johnston

    I am missing something. We have record numbers doing no work yet not starving but instead gettin' fat. Sounds like a little slice of heaven pie to me. I dream of a day when all of us can stop working and still be fed, housed and entertained. Obamanomics, baby! Keynes is doin' the Harlem Shake in his grave.

    • tagalog

      Prez'dint Obama, he gon' pay mah mortgage!

    • whisky

      The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other peoples money.

      • wsk

        Thank you margaret Thatcher.

    • mlcblog

      Kudos on your lovely sarcasm. For real.

  • pierce

    He, Obama, doesn't have a clue as to the state of this nation. As long as the can board Air Force One, and continue to fly to any destination he wants, not worry about who pays for the fuel, and play golf, not just with Tiger, and continue to live high off the hog, why worry about the other guy. Let em fend for themselves.

    • sablegsd

      He knows. And he's happy about it. Everything is going just as planned. Wait till his muslim brothers bring nukes and or chemical weapons over what used to be our border. That he supplied. Anybody ever find out about that mysterious construction at the WH?

  • pierce

    Oops, I did not finish. I wonder what his golf handicap is 5 or 6 would be good, if he counts all the strokes, but does he count all the strokes, and oh Barack, whiffs count.

  • guest

    A lot of foreign aid to muslim countries, and record muslim immigration. The wahabbi come here with no visas refused now, and are being traiined in drones,

  • tagalog

    It is Mark Twain who is credited with the "better to keep silent and thought a fool…" quotation.

    But President Lincoln was no fool, and no doubt he would agree with the sentiment that if you're going to steal material, steal from the best.

    Student loans are going to become debts that are dischargeable in bankruptcy, certainly at least the privately-financed ones. If student loans can't be discharged or otherwise avoided, Barack Obama will end his presidency as a truly historical figure: the man who managed the economy in such a way that it bound the entry-level worker to his first job for a decade or more, thus singlehandedly turning a bad financial reverse into a revival of feudalism.

    • fiddler

      I think that is taken from Proverbs which says: "Even a fool if he remains silent is thought wise".

      • tagalog

        I doubt it; the two quotations say different things.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    With friends like Tony Rezko – WHO NEEDS a flippin' Chicago mortgage transaction???

    The Obamas and their Mortgage (updated)
    American Thinker – (way back in) – July 1, 2008

  • RedBaker

    The real state of the economy is that the Federal Reserve is printing massive amounts of money to buy up mortgages, buy 75% of new federal government bonds, and pump money into Wall Street. It's all a phony as a freshly printed $3 bill.

  • BLJ

    In 4 years this cretan has went a long way to destroying this once great nation. He needs to be kicked out of office, the sooner the better. I hold the MSM and the idiots who voted for him twice responsible as well.

    • NGH

      Completely and emphatically agree with your sentiments, but before you call others cretins please spell the word correctly! (Unless you are upset with someone from Crete.)

  • LindaRivera

    “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.

    But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.

    For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men.

    He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.”
    ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

  • Jim_C

    Many if not most employers are going to take the penalty for not providing healthcare, give their employees stipends, and say "Here, go find yourself some insurance." And still save themselves $4000-$5000 per employee.

    You can blame Obama for a bunch of stuff. I might even agree with some of it.

    But blaming him for trying to do something about healthcare after 40-plus years of kicking it down the road is probably not in your best interest. Costs were projected to skyrocket whether Obama or Romney or Sarah Palin was in the White House. Both providers and patients are going to take a hit. We're all about to become a lot more educated about our health care choices.

    But who is not going to take a hit? Insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. And whoever they've bought for Congress. You don't have to believe me, but do please pay attention to it. And stay healthy!

    • BLJ

      Obama could care less about real health care reform. He is concerned with only one thing. Power. (His ugly wife is grabbing the money for them).

      • sablegsd

        You mean fugly beard in a business arrangement, right?

    • tagalog

      I think it's eminently predictable that insurance companies are going to be adversely affected when the "no pre-existing condition" provisions of Obamacare kick in this year. In fact, I daresay that unless the no pre-existing condition language is widely ignored by the government in administering Obamacare, that will spell the end of private health-care insurance companies. It will be possible for people to opt out of having health insurance at all until they actually get sick. In fact, they would be foolish not to do just that.

      Obamacare cost controls will interfere with research and development, which will have a negative impact on pharmaceutical companies.

      • Jim_C

        I don't know, maybe the enormous margins pharmas make on their products will come down, and they'll have to re-route the huge $$ they spend on marketing back to research. But who knows; pretty soon, we may essentially be prescribing stuff to ourselves.

        Actually I think you're just scratching the surface of the fallout, some of it good and some of it bad. One thing short-term it will do is make people much saavier consumers of healthcare and make billing a lot more transparent.

    • wsk

      By the by, the penalties for not providing healthcare gradually increase over time until it will be a wash for the company. Then the real lay-offs will occur. There will be a lot of small companoes with 49 employees, and a lot of workers that are employed 29 hours per week. Business owners are not stupid.

  • cynthia curran

    Additionally, the jobs that are being obtained are going overwhelmingly to workers who are 55 and older, where employment (again, largely part-time) has grown by 4 million during the past four years. Employment for everyone else during that same period has decreased by almost 3 million. The overall labor force participation rate is back to where it was during the early 1980s, an era when a much higher percentage of spouses voluntarily stayed home to raise their children. If this is true, why do we still have illegal aliens under 50 working in fastfood.

  • maletarget

    If I lost my job and charged everything to my credit cards for a while everything would be going great. The economy should be booming considering the trillions of debt added by Obama.

  • trickyblain

    Wall Street at it's highest point since 2008. I bought a house in November 2011, and (according to an appraiser) it's now — a bit more than a year later — worth almost 100k more than I paid for it. Outside the hyperbolic Bubble of Doom and Despair, things are actually improving. Sorry.

    • Tom Blumer

      7.8 percent unemployment. 14.4% U-6 unemployment. No GDP growth last quarter.____If that's "improving," I don't want to see your definition of "decline."

  • George Marcina

    State of the Union as seen not from the White House but from our little Brick House.

    Dear Mr. President,

    Few days ago I watched your State of the Union speech and I though that maybe, perhaps, you will be interested in how the Union looks not from the White House but from our house, our little Brick House.

    The difference between what you and I see is, not surprisingly, large. But before I talk about the differences let me tell you where I agree with you.
    I was glad that you issued the order to kill Bin Laden. Actually, when I heard about it, I lifted a glass of cheap red wine to your health. Well done Sir! I also agree that we need to get out of Afghanistan. We spent way too much blood and money in that God forsaken place. And I agree that this is still an exceptional country full of very capable and hard working people who deserve better leadership.
    I think the State of the Union sucks.
    Four years into your Presidency we still have 20 plus million unemployed and forty plus millions people on food stamps. This is a shame! Especially when I hear from you practically once a month how you are working to get more jobs, that jobs are your number one priority, etc., etc. Its time for a change. Its time for Leadership. Its time to stop talking, its time to take steps to make our economy more competitive in this global economy. Its time to recognize government doesn’t create wealth and jobs. Its time to stop encumbering the wealth creating process with more taxes and regulations. Its time to stop legislations and rules that take more money from the American wealth creating machine, time to stop moving it to those who redistribute it and those who simply consume it.
    Just before I sat down to write you I went to buy gas. I paid almost four bucks. This too is a shame, especially since you could help it tomorrow. I challenge you to sign approval for the Keystone pipeline. Make the operators to put a dime for every gallon that flows through it into a lock box for emergencies. In case something goes wrong we will be ready for remediation and recovery. But let’s stop procrastinating. Time to help all citizens with one simple stroke of your pen.
    Our debt and yearly deficits are also a shame. Mr. President most of us citizens know about budgets, we know we can’t borrow more than we can repay, we know if we don’t nasty things will happen. We know how to say no, we can’t afford it. We’ve done it many times in our lives. We know it’s not pleasant but we also know it has to be done. Time for you to start saying NO! Time for you to present a budget and demand cuts, real cuts before we, the whole nation, end up like the neighbors down the street who bought a house too expensive for their income.
    I want to challenge you to cut a dollar from every hundred the Government, you are a head of, spends today. Real cuts in actual spending, not the Washington game of cutting growth and crying as if that was the end of the world. We know the government spends too much on too many needless programs. We know, that if you really wanted, we could cut a dollar from every 100 we spend. We know it can be done, we’ve done it ourselves and most of us more than once.
    Actually I want to challenge you to cut two bucks out of every hundred you spend. And I want to challenge you to spend the second dollar on job creation. Spend it on giving tax credits for industrial (not governmental or academic) research and development, for capital investments designed to increase employment, for creating new businesses, for bringing home money careful people keep in off shore banks. Spend it on going into business,as a minority partner, with those whose record show they can make create wealth, they can create jobs, they can compete with the Chinese or the Germans, with anybody!
    I want to challenge you to provide a real leadership in Education. We, as a nation, are spending more and more on education every year. Given a chance every politician will talk splendidly how he /she is for giving more money for schools. And what do we get for that? Are we, as a nation, leading the world? Are our kids educated better and better? We, the citizens, know that is not so. Spending more money on a process that is ineffective is a waste. It’s time for reform. We know what needs to be done – introduce competition! Be a real leader Mr. President, don’t enlarge the system as is, change it, free us to send our children to school of our choice!
    Hope you had a good time in Florida and are all rested and ready to work. And, of course, I hope you will spend a few minutes thinking about my thoughts on how to make life in these United States better in the near future.

    Citizen G.

  • Hoppers

    Nice allocation but Truly I did not know anything about real state of the Union but the allocation you did here simply makes me glad and knowable about this issue. Thanks