Economy: The latest economic data make it clear that President Obama's policies aren't helping the country get stronger. Rather, they're smothering what should have been a solid recovery.
Real GDP climbed a less-than-expected 2.8% in final quarter of 2011, and just 1.7% for the entire year, down from 3% in 2010. The trend of subpar growth under Obama continues.
To get a better sense of how bad Obama's recovery is, consider this: Under Obama, real GDP has climbed a total of just 6% in the two-and-a-half years since the recession ended in June 2009.
By comparison, real GDP had grown 16% by this point in the Reagan recovery, after the very deep and painful 1981-82 recession.
Had Obama's recovery been as powerful as Reagan's, the economic pie would be $1.2 trillion bigger today.
And had job growth under Obama kept pace with job growth during the Reagan recovery, there would be 10 million — yes 10 million — more people with jobs today.
So what explains the difference between these two recoveries? Obama and his legion of liberal defenders claim the last recession was so deep that we're just now getting back on our feet.
Plus, they claim that a financial crisis invariably causes a slow recovery.
Neither excuse holds water. First, the 1981-82 recession was almost as long (16 months vs. 18 months), and as deep (unemployment was actually higher, peaking at 10.8% in that earlier recession).
But even that didn't stop a rip-roaring comeback.
Second, a recent Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta report found: "U.S. history provides no support for linking low employment and high unemployment in the current recovery with the financial crisis of 2007-2008."
Plus, nobody at the time expected the Reagan recovery to be as fast and as powerful as it was. So what's different? The presidents' policies.Reagan enacted sweeping and permanent tax cuts, aggressively eliminated or reduced regulations, reined in domestic spending, and championed the private sector.
Obama's approach has been the opposite — a huge increase in regulations; meager, targeted and temporary tax cuts; a massive increase in size and scope of the federal government; and a barrage of invective against businessmen and the wealthy. Obama has bashed Reagan's approach, saying that cutting taxes and regulations "has never worked" to spur growth.
Obama might think the U.S. is "getting stronger," as he put it in his State of the Union speech, and maybe it is, a little. But if he keeps choking it with his misguided policies, it will never be as strong as it could be, or should be.