National Public Radio's Kai Ryssdal recently talked about the weak economy. His guests, two reporters from The Washington Post and The New York Times, acknowledged the obvious — that the economy is underperforming.
Yet, in the 20 minutes of my sitting and listening in the car in bad Los Angeles traffic, I heard no one mention the words "President Barack Obama."
Time magazine, in a cover story on the economy, called the current economic recovery a "97-pound weakling." It informs us that our sluggish economy is now driven by broad, virtually uncontrollable worldwide economic trends. Only once in this lengthy article did Time mention Obama — and only to say that Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney "plans to use the economy as a hammer against President Obama."
That's it. The President, Mr. Hope-and-Change, you see, is powerless to do anything about the economy. None of that "the buck stops here" stuff for him.
Investor's Business Daily writes that our neighbor up north sees things differently: "The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing. In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in."
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said: "Creating jobs and growth in our economy is our top propriety. ... We are creating the conditions for businesses to successfully compete in the global economy by investing in Canada and creating jobs and growth for all Canadians. Through our government's low-tax plan ... we are continuing to send the message that Canada is open for business and the best place to invest."
What about the economies of our 50 states? If Obama is powerless to do anything about the economy, surely the states alone are at least as impotent?
But low-tax states outperform high-tax states. Seven states have no personal income taxes (PIT) — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two states tax only income on interest and dividends — New Hampshire and Tennessee. The average state and local revenue growth of these nine states from 2000 to 2009 was 81.53 percent.
Average revenue growth in the nine states with the highest PIT rates — Ohio, Maine, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Hawaii and New York — was 44.88 percent. Similarly, gross state product growth from 2001 to 2010 averaged 58.54 percent in the nine states with no PIT versus 42.06 in the nine states with the highest PIT rates.
Remember, our leftist president once told ABC's Charlie Gibson that he wants to raise capital gains taxes — even though Obama conceded that historically higher capital taxes lead to less revenue. Then why raise rates at all, asked Gibson. "For purposes of fairness," said then-Sen. Obama.
This is a president determined to "spread the wealth" to deal with "the gap" between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent. To the Occupy Wall Street protestors, this is a president who said, "You are the reason I ran for office." This is a president who said, "I do think at some point you've made enough money."
This is a president who blames the Wall Street/housing meltdown on greed. As the see-no-Obama-on-the-economy Time magazine article puts it: "We got into the housing mess because we used our homes like ATMs to cover up the fact that neither incomes nor jobs have grown as much as they should have in the past two decades. It was a myth we all bought into, from the policymakers who pushed the idea of an ownership society fueled by debt to interest-rate-lowering central bankers who kept the music playing to individuals who took the mortgages they knew they couldn't afford."
This is the Obama version of events. Greed. Lack of oversight. Government policy had nothing to do with it. Banks just suddenly and for no reason started lending money to people they knew could not afford their mortgages.
Time magazine makes no mention about the central role played by laws like the Community Reinvestment Act. Nothing about the government-built and government-supported behemoths Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which changed the rules so that "underrepresented" borrowers could buy a home, too. The government told lenders to lend to high-risk borrowers — or else. What, or else? The government actually threatened fines and held up prudent bank mergers if one or both sides did not sufficiently "lend" to borrowers who, under normal circumstances, failed to qualify.
NPR, however, took the pretzel-twisting in defense of Obama to an even higher level. When the disappointing first quarter numbers came in, NPR's Scott Neuman actually asked this question: "Common sense says high growth rates are good and slower, more modest ones are not so good. But is that always the case? After all, the 'irrational exuberance' of the early 2000s helped bring on the recession, as people borrowed and spent their way to prosperity."
So bad economic news is actually good economic news. Four more years!