Last Updated:November 27 @ 07:08 am

Elder: The Four Lies About the Economy That Obama Needs Voters to Believe

By Larry Elder

President Barack Obama's re-election turns on his ability to convince voters that 1) Obama inherited a "Great Recession," 2) every "independent" economist supported the "stimulus," 3) "bipartisan" economists agree that Obama's stimulus worked, and 4) as actor Morgan Freeman puts it, racist Republicans say, "Screw the country ... we're going to do whatever we can to get this black man outta here" -- nothing to do with deeply held policy differences.

That's a lot of merchandise to push.

1) Take this "Great Recession" business.

Remember the "misery index"? The term, popularized by former President Jimmy Carter, used to mean inflation plus unemployment. Unfortunately for John Kerry, by the time he ran for president in 2004, the misery index stood at 7.4 midway into the election year, the same as when George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000. What to do? Change the definition. Kerry invented a new misery index, one that included only high-rising costs like college tuition, health care and gas prices.

Similarly, "bad economic times" used to mean, above all, high unemployment. Within a year of Obama's presidency, unemployment climbed to 10.2 percent. Within three years of Reagan's presidency, unemployment reached 10.8 percent. Under Obama, inflation has been -- at least so far -- rather modest. Early in Reagan's presidency, inflation reached 13.5 percent. Rather than describe this era as the "Great-Recession-turned-around-by-Reagan's-pro-growth-policies," many pundits and scribes dismiss this period of extraordinary growth as the "me decade" or the "decade of greed."

2) "There is no disagreement," said then-President-elect Barack Obama, "that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy."

What?! More than 200 economists, including several Nobel laureates, signed on to a full-page ad placed in major newspapers by the libertarian Cato Institute. Eventually, over 130 more economists became signatories to the ad.

It read: "With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true. Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance.

"More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today.

"To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth."

These 350 or so notable economists notwithstanding, Obama later doubled down: "This is what independent economists have said -- not politicians, not just people in my administration. Independent experts who do this for a living have said this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and for middle-class families all across America. And what these independent experts have also said is that if we don't act, the opposite will be true. There will be fewer jobs; there will be weaker growth."

3) Obama surrogate Steve Rattner recently said that Obama's stimulus worked -- as confirmed by "bipartisan" economists. As proof, Rattner offered the findings of "bipartisan economists Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder," who "agree that ... we would have had unemployment substantially higher than what we've had over the last two years."


Blinder, a Democrat, served as a member of the Clinton administration and later advised presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry. As for Zandi, he did serve as a presidential campaign advisor to John McCain. Like Blinder, Zandi is a self-described Democrat.

Zandi likes "maverick" McCain, a Republican who voted against the first George W. Bush tax cuts using the same left-wing argument about the cuts benefiting the rich. Zandi's man, summoning his inner Dennis Kucinich, once said, "I cannot support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief."

As to the alleged unanimous expert opinion on the effectiveness of Obama's stimulus, Stanford economist John Taylor debated this on NPR with Zandi. Taylor's analysis, shared by many other economists: "I just don't think there's any evidence. When you look at the numbers, when you see what happened, when people reacted to the stimulus, it did very little good."

4) Democrats never tire of trotting out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said his "single most important political goal" was to make Obama "a one-term president." Horrors! Why, doesn't this just make McConnell the very personification of sinister! Republican opposition for the sole purpose of bringing down Obama, the first black president, yada, blah, etc.

Apparently, it is outside the brain capacity of people like Morgan Freeman to understand something: One way to defeat bad, leftist Democrats' policies is to defeat bad, leftist Democrats, who seek to implement those bad, leftist policies. It's not complicated.

Nothing personal.


Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.



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  2. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    June 7, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    Obama and the Democrats were voted into power and given trillions of dollars in bi-partisan trust to create jobs, create wealth and create recovery. His administration will go down in history as the one that misspent the money and misspent the bi-partisan trust to buy and create VOTES, not jobs,,,,, to empower themselves rather than jobs that empowered the people who trusted them.

    The conundrum of the fallacy in ideology and delayed justice which will remove him and his irresponsible administration from power is the fact that had he had the wisdom and courage to actually spent the money creating jobs that created actual wealth that created a meaningful recovery, he would have in the process also created and earned the votes he sought to purchase rather than earn. The party of wealth consumption apparently is unable to become the party of wealth creation, and just what was it about his promise of hope that made us believe they would ever change? This is what you get when you elect fearful men who prey on fear and who are unable to earn their own way and can only purchase their way through life with other people’s money. It is their reliance on the followership of others rather than the leadership of their own strength that condemns them to the perpetual failures that always get paid for by others who actually have the solutions, strength and intestinal fortitude to work, not buy their way out, or talk their way out of their problems. This is the party who cannot brag on what they actually produced, but what they claim they failed to lose, which defines them as the party of losers unfit to lead this nation.

    Elder is right, it’s not complicated but it is becoming personal to all who have no work, no homes, not future thanks to he who misspent our best opportunity to correct the problems with money, whose only alternative now is to correct the problems with votes in November.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      June 7, 2012 @ 9:17 am

      This time it will be with votes earned not purchased, votes that will count in American strength rather than be counted in fear by Americans who are weak.

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  3. cxComment by genesal
    June 7, 2012 @ 9:24 am

    The fifth lie:
    I’m not out to ruin America as we know it!

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  4. WillComment by Will
    June 7, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    Even today, President Obama keeps stating that he inherited the financial mess from President Bush and Republicans and trying to blame everything in the world but himself and democrats, even after more than three years of democratic failed policies.

    Who controls the finances in government? Congress! Who had total control of Congress from 2006 to 2010? Democrats! Who has control of the senate from 2010 -2012? Democrats! Who has not passed a budget for years? Democrats! Who has been spending money like there’s no tomorrow? Democrats! Who has been printing money? Democrats! Has anything helped? No!

    Past and current Congresses are the ones for the current country’s financial mess. It dates back into the 1990’s with irresponsibl Congressional Democrats and Republicans, not just Republicans.

    The straw that bent then broke the camel’s back was pushing loan institutions to give housing loans to people that couldn’t afford them (Rep Franks, Dem), spending money from social security fund and replace with IOU’s, expanding all social programs (education, agriculture, energy, environmental, medical care, etc. all with little country benefits), not paying for wars, and barrowing and printing money, just to name a few. These Congressional actions even caused the country financial rating to be downgraded.

    President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other Democrats better look in a mirror to see some of the real people that assisted in causing our financial mess, not just President Bush and Republicans.

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  5. jsm1963Comment by jsm1963
    June 7, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    Weak. Nice try though.

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