When President Obama pitched his first stimulus, to the tune of $787,000,000,000.00, his administration famously claimed that such massive deficit spending was necessary to keep unemployment from reaching 8 percent and then to bring it below 7 percent by mid-2011. Yet for the past 28 months — since the recession ended in June 2009 and the “recovery” began — unemployment has been at or above 9 percent 26 times. (And in the two months that it didn’t hit 9 percent, when it was 8.9 in February and 8.8 percent in March, it rounded to 9 percent.)
Such continuously high unemployment is a central aspect of the declining standard of living for middle class Americans in the Obama era. During the recession that Obama (mostly) inherited, the real median income of American households fell 3.2 percent. During the “recovery” over which Obama has presided, the real median income of American households has fallen an additional 6.7 percent. In other words, the typical American household’s real income has declined more than twice as much during Obama’s “recovery” as during the recession itself — dropping $3,609 per household, so far, during the “recovery.”
Meanwhile, Obama, who says that the 2012 election isn’t among “the least of” his concerns, is out on the campaign trail feverishly pitching a second stimulus. Both in this sense and more broadly, Obama’s campaign strategy seems to hinge on his hope that Americans don’t regard past success as a worthy predictor of future success.
At the same time, Republicans would be wise to advance economic proposals that have the clear goal — and the stated purpose — of promoting the prosperity of the median American. In the wake of an administration whose firm commitment to government largess and income redistribution has produced massive deficits and declining incomes, Americans would welcome a Republican economic message that centers on promoting the prosperity of the middle class and Main Street, U.S.A.