PolitiFact exposes the President’s Claim to Jon Stewart that the economy is better “by every metric.”
I think of PolitiFact as mostly regime propaganda, but sometimes the lies are so outrageous that they can’t pretend otherwise.
Thus, we read,
During his farewell visit to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, President Barack Obama took a bit of a victory lap.
At one point in the extended interview posted online, Obama said, “Here’s the thing I can say, Jon. I can say this unequivocally: The VA is better now than when I came into office; government works better than when I came into office; the economy, by every metric, is better than when I came into office.”
Well, he can say it, but that doesn’t make it true. Politifact felt compelled to point to contrary evidence.
We found several important measurements that went in the wrong direction during Obama’s tenure.
- Real median weekly earnings.Between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2015, inflation-adjusted weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers fell from $348 to $344, a decline of about 1 percent. Comparing the second quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2015, weekly earnings fell from $342 to $337, a decline of about 1.4 percent.
- Median income. Inflation-adjusted median household income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, fell from $54,059 in 2009 to $51,939 in 2013 — a decline of about 4 percent. (Depending on how you adjust these raw numbers for taxes and in-kind income, inflation-adjusted income per person may have gone up a bit rather than shrinking.)
- Percent of people in poverty.The data show that 13.2 percent of Americans were living in poverty in March 2009. By March 2014, that percentage had risen to 14.5 percent. That was down slightly from what it was in the previous three years, but not enough to match the 2009 level.
- Median weeks unemployed.In January 2009, the median number of weeks an unemployed person was unemployed was 10.7. By June 2015, that number had risen to 11.3 weeks. (The peak of 25.2 weeks came in June 2010.)
- Civilian labor force participation rate. This is the percentage of people either working or looking for work, divided by the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. In January 2009, this stood at 65.7 percent, but by June 2015, it had fallen to 62.6 percent. The caution here is that this statistic has been affected by the increasing rate of retirements due to the aging of the Baby Boomers. However, most economists say that the weak recovery has played at least some role in this decline.
- Number of people on food stamps.The number of recipients has risen from 33.5 million in 2009 to 46.5 million in 2014, an increase of 39 percent. What is hard to say is how much comes from expanded accessibility rules and how much comes from rising economic need.
Even where PolitiFact agreed that Obama had improved some economic indicators, their claims are debatable. I was especially appalled that they claimed the employment rate was a good indicator of economic recovery. It is quite likely that the employment rate, or unemployment rate, is highly manipulated.