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Issue Analysis

This Time It's the Same

The stimulus package is over two years old, and the unemployment rate is still above the level that the Obama administration pledged it would not reach. Just as bad, the economy is not showing any signs of getting better, especially in the housing market. Finally, government spending on entitlement programs has reached the point where these programs are not only unsustainable, but threaten the sustainability of all other functions of the federal government (whether those functions are proper or not).

In a recent weekly radio address, President Obama said: “I wish I could tell you there was a quick fix to our economic problems. But the truth is, we didn't get into this mess overnight, and we won't get out of it overnight. It's going to take time.” Actually, voters were told before that there was a quick fix, but since the president’s stimulus package, the jobs voters were promised have either failed to materialize or have come at the expense of work in the private sector.

Daniel Henninger, in The Wall Street Journal, writes:

From within the exclusively demand-side context of the president's economic policy, there are no more bullets in the carbines. This president is now virtually defenseless against the inexorable forces of the U.S. economy.

And, right now, those are forces which are felt in America much worse than in Washington, a pattern which hurts both the old and the young: The young find it impossible to enter the workforce and the old find it unwise to leave it.

The president’s defenders will, no doubt, claim that the administration did not go far enough, but this narrative has become increasingly incredulous, considering the radical change and loss of confidence that the White House’s agenda has brought about. Austan Goolsbee, departing chairperson of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, recently said that the economy was “a million miles” from where the administration started. In terms of the growth of bureaucracy and uncertainty, this claim is true.

But the administration’s policies are not growing anything else; least of all jobs. A second recession looms; to avoid a permanent period of stagnant growth, the American people need leaders promoting policies which take seriously the challenges of the present. President Obama has failed to do so, and with every uptick that his policies cause in the unemployment rate, he is proving himself increasingly unworthy of asking for a second chance in 2012.