Republicans now join Democrats in the Blame Bush mantra

Although the struggling economy under President Barack Obama’s leadership will likely define the outcome of this year’s general election, more Americans continue to hold former President George W. Bush accountable for the nation’s economic problems, according to a new poll.

The poll, released by Gallup Thursday, showed that 68 percent of Americans place either a great deal or moderate amount of economic blame on Bush, whereas 52 percent blame Obama. Republicans more universally ascribe the bad economy to the incumbent president, with 83 percent holding Obama responsible and 49 percent attributing the same level of blame to Bush. An overwhelming 90 percent of Democrats still blame Bush for the nation’s economic problems, as opposed to only 19 percent who place blame on Obama, showing that Republicans are far more willing to hold Bush responsible than Democrats are willing to blame Obama.{1}

This leaves many of us Americans to ask the questions: when does the Bush administration end, and when does the Obama administration begin?  If we are to believe that Bush’s power was so mighty that he continues to affect the economy three and a half years after his tenure expired, what does it say about Obama’s leadership abilities that he can’t while in office?  What does it say about an administration that had two years of a Democrat controlled Congress and Senate, and it was still unable to reverse the course that he condemns?  He’s the most powerful man in the world, and he had both of the legislative branches at his disposal, and he was unable to do anything?  We’re supposed to believe that he can’t do anything?  With the most powerful podium in the world?  It takes ten years, say Former President Clinton, and now Obama, say 10 years.  It takes ten years to get out of a recession.

“Over the last 500 years, whenever there’s a financial system collapse, it takes 5-10 years to return to full employment. And if you have a financial collapse and a real estate collapse, it’s almost always out there at 10 years,” Former President Bill Clinton said. “So what our government has to do, and our communities and states have to do, is to try to beat that record.”{2}

If Clinton is correct here, and 500 years of history back up what Obama is trying to do, what was the progress of those other financial system collapses?  Did they see any progress in the ten years that followed the financial collapse?  To listen to Obama, one would think we have made progress.  “I’ve added four million jobs,” he says.  That depends on who you ask.  If you ask the Labor Department, who only count short-term unemployed, that number stands up.  If you cite the statistics that factor in the long-term unemployed and those who have simply stopped looking, however, you get another picture of the unemployment rate altogether.  As a 2/09/12 Forbes magazine piece puts it, that latter number is around 5 million.

“The trick is that when those 5 million are not counted as in the work force, they are not counted as unemployed either. They may desperately need and want jobs. They may be in poverty, as many undoubtedly are, with America suffering today more people in poverty than in the entire half century the Census Bureau has been counting poverty. But they are not even counted in that 8.3% unemployment rate that Obama and his media cheerleaders were so tirelessly celebrating last week.

“If they were counted, the unemployment rate today would be a far more realistic 11%, better reflecting the suffering in the real economy under Obamanomics.”{3}

The latter statistic, that some argue is actually closer to 14.5%, is called the U6 rate.  The U6 tracks those who have been unemployed long-term and those who have given up looking for work, and it is not used in the official Labor Department statistics.  To be fair to President Obama, this U6 statistic has not been used by other presidents or politicians who cite unemployment rates, but the disparity that has occurred between these two groups has never been this great.  As the Fox Business piece below suggests the difference between these two rates has traditionally been about 2% points, but most recent numbers suggest that the difference is now 7%.

According to a recent report from RBC Global Asset Management, the ranks of the long-term unemployed, or those out of work for 27 weeks or more, have soared to 7 million, up from 1 million in 2007 ahead of the onset of the financial crisis.

Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar and economist at the American Enterprise Institute, said about 43% of the 12.8 million Americans officially labeled out of work fall into the category of the long-term unemployed, “which is huge, we’ve never seen those kinds of numbers in any recession,” she said.{4}

But it’s all Bush’s fault, it’s all Bush’s fault, and it’s all Bush’s fault.  For a president that claimed, “I’m not going to make any excuses,”{5} he has made just about every excuse possible.  What happened to “The buck stops here” request for accountability that we used to require of our leaders?  One could say that Obama’s powers of persuasion are just more powerful than Harry S Truman’s were.  One could also say that Obama’s constant messaging on 24-7 news networks gives him a sizable advantage to Truman, but one could also say that due to the fact that we’re less demanding of ourselves we’re less demanding of our leaders.  Harry S Truman put some of the blame for his stagnant economy on a “do nothing” Congress, but he wasn’t afraid of giving the American public a no excuses, ultimate accountability form of leadership.  Candidate Obama claimed that he wanted the same degree of accountability for his presidency, but President Obama wants us to join him in counting those that we blame for this mess.  To be fair to Obama, candidate Truman had more positive reasons to vote for him in his bid for re-election.  Team Obama is simply trying to redress the negatives, and it appears as though we’ve heard him.

{1} {2}  {3} {4} {5}


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