The So-Called “Recovery” Looks Fake
The media has continued to pretend that we have passed out of the recession into a “slow recovery.”
But despite the convenient fluke of a better-than-expected jobs report before the election, there never was any real recovery. As it stands now, Gallup is reporting that the unemployment rate has surged. While economists are claiming the jobs report today will be 7.9 percent (which is a flat rate of change—news that would be bad enough) Gallup predicts it is 8.3 percent.
“Employers announced 57,081 job cuts last month, the highest level since May and up nearly 20 percent from 47,724 in October, according to the report from consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. November’s job cuts were also up 34.4 percent from the 42,474 seen a year ago.”
Of course, the stories try to blame things other than Obama for what has happened. Sandy is held responsible for some of the job losses. But it wasn’t that long ago that the prophet of liberalism, Paul Krugman, was assuring us that Katrina would be a good thing for the economy. The bad economy makes us far more economically vulnerable to storms, but a real recovery would not be slowed by one. The fact that the recovery can be hurt by storms should tell you that the recovery is wishful thinking.
Before Republicans say “I told you so,” maybe we should admit that we haven’t given the electorate any assurances about economic recovery.
Under Bush, interest rates were shoved into the floor (they seem high now, but at the time they were extremely low). People might as well have put their cash under the mattress as put it in a savings account. Naturally, the low interest rates started an asset bubble. Rather than failing (as they would have done in a normal economy), housing policies to spread home-ownership directed investment into a housing bubble. Bush carefully selected a successor Federal Reserve chairman for Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, who was on record denying that there was a housing bubble. He and his others convinced the nations we could engage in two nation-building wars and go on with low taxes and a normal consumer economy.
When that began to shake apart before his second term ended, Bush’s answer was a word we hadn’t heard much since Greenspan talked it ups in 2003 for low interest rates and low taxes. Bush wanted “stimulus”—only this time it was done by government issued checks going to households. That didn’t work (duh!) and we soon had the meltdown and the barbaric robbery that was TARP (i.e. Troubled Asset Relief Program that gave over about three fourths of a trillion dollars to the personal discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury).
There is not going to be an economic recovery until we push down the deficit to zero, and enact entitlement reform. The economy is never going to recover under Obama and it probably would never have recovered under Romney either. Low taxes are wonderful, but they aren’t going to bring recovery to an economy with this much debt burden.
To the extent that anything political can be done to help our economic situation, getting Tea Party conservatives into Congress should not just be considered a high priority; it is really our only option.
Mark Horne has been studying the intersection of ethics and the economy since high school. He was raised in Liberia, West Africa and Kwajalein, Marshall Islands, as well as on the Atlantic coast of Florida. He graduated from Houghton College in 1989 and from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1998. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America and has pastored churches in Washington state and Oklahoma, as well as serving as an assistant pastor in St. Louis.