A.J. DiCintio
Down so long it seems like up
By A.J. DiCintio
September 16, 2012

With the election season in full swing, voters should do some serious thinking about the lyric "I been down so long it seem like up to me" uttered by the forlorn lover of a song by composer, guitarist, and blues singer Furry Lewis.

Specifically, the exercise will help us do something about the sad, frightening reality that in the last few years, millions of Americans have been sarcastically muttering something like the lover's agonizingly-blue lament.

We'll never accomplish our task, however, unless the song's words prompt us to ask a question regarding a president who promised to heal a sickened economy feverishly bleeding good jobs, to restore health to a federal balance sheet ravaged by the cancers of irresponsible spending and dangerous debt, and to detoxify Washington's poisoned, poisonous political ethos.

This, then, is the burning question we must answer by November 6:

With respect to the economy, has Barack Obama behaved with the brave honesty befitting a truly "transformative" president, or, having failed to keep his promises, is he guilty of practicing the Same Old Expedient Politics that, according to his needs, seeks to convince a beleaguered public that down is up and vice-versa?

To help us decide the answer, following are some critically important economic topics discussed with references to sources who can hardly be described as staunch anti-Obama ideologues.

The Unemployment Rate

The first thing to know about this much publicized monthly number is that in doing the math, the government subtracts from the labor force anyone who has been unemployed for 366 days or more.

This perfectly stupid, perfectly vile example of political arithmetic so corrupts truth that while the economy added just 96,000 jobs in August, the unemployment rate fell significantly because the government excluded a shocking 368,000 Americans from the workforce in a single month.

Yes, Virginia, because it suits their selfish purposes, politicians love to artificially shrink the size of the workforce. Nevertheless, it's not your ordinary politician who can shrink it down to its lowest level in 31 years even as he boldly asks for your vote so that he can shrink it more in the name of lifting the nation up.

The second thing to know is that disability recipients (whose number has exploded over the past four years to all-time record highs) are subtracted as well, even though, as reported by financial analyst John Mauldin, the Congressional Budget Office informs us that as job opportunities wax and wane, many workers shift between work and disability.

Once we know those two facts, we are well on our way to understanding why Mauldin has this to say not just about unemployment but underemployment, a concept apparently unknown to the White House and its media sycophants.

"True unemployment is closer to 10% [instead of 8.1%] and perhaps significantly more [while] underemployment is still in the range of 16%."

Now to the president:

If we check the record, we'll see that purported change agent Barack Obama has never issued one of his famous executive orders to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, directing it to revise its practices so that the public gets the whole, unvarnished truth about unemployment, the political consequences be damned.

The Jobs Report

To produce its monthly report regarding new job creation, the government counts the number of jobs added by existing businesses, guesses at how many new businesses may have opened, and then guesses again to come up with its total.

But what's also rotten in the state of reporting the number of new jobs is this:

The government fails to publicize essential details about them.

For instance, Mauldin reports that of the 96,000 new jobs added in August, 28,000 were in the bar and restaurant business.

Could putrid politics be behind this kind of job equivalency insult?

Just ask college grads, 2008-2012, millions of whom will be happy to educate you about the Good-Job Hemorrhage afflicting the country as, during a break from their dish washing duties, they fill you in regarding their hopes, dreams, and college majors.

But once again content to have us believe getting down with a part-time job waiting tables is as much a step up as being hired as a full-time chemist or mechanic, Barack Obama has failed to deliver another executive order, this one requiring the Bureau to issue new job numbers accompanied by crucially relevant new job data.

The Deficit and Debt

Let's begin our analysis of President Obama's record on this wrenching problem simply by agreeing enthusiastically with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who recently opined (however bluntly) that if the federal government's fiscal mess doesn't get cleaned up, "we're screwed."

Next, let's note that Barack Obama, who has never produced an honest, practicable plan to put the nation on a sound fiscal path, appointed a debt commission only, upon hearing "boo" from congressional uberliberals, to summarily dismiss not just the entire commission but the bi-partisan reform template developed by its bravest members.

Then, let's turn to the new book, "The Price of Politics," in which Woodward reveals, in excruciating detail, the events of summer, 2011, when Speaker John Boehner (R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) pleaded with the president for "a little more time" to complete a substantive budget-reform plan.

And let's also agree one can't read the entire account without perceiving that it was not only a dithering Barack Obama bereft of the stuff that defines a true leader but also a peevish, selfishly political Barack Obama who prevented an essential step from being taken to save the country from the disaster that, to his credit, Woodward refused to sugar coat.

With that downer the president surely regards as a bold step up, this piece ends.

However, for those who feel they need more evidence to help them answer the question posed at the outset, there's plenty to choose from.

For example, there's the research done during the Democratic Convention by CNN's Tom Foreman and Erin Burnett revealing that for the period 2008-2012, Barack Obama invariably remembers (and crows about) the 4.5 million jobs added to the economy.

But something there is, the duo further points out, that keeps the Columbia and Harvard graduate from recalling (and thus taking responsibility for) the 5 million jobs lost.

Not that memory is the president's ultimate problem, because if he would remember the losses and do the math, he'd surely boast that under his watch, unemployment is down, as evidenced by the wonderfully positive statistic of 500,000 jobs up.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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