President Barack Obama went to Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., this week to rearticulate his vision for the American economy and to reassure the American people that, yes, he knows what he is doing.
The president’s prodigious political skills are always on display, even in the most challenging circumstances.
He can take dismal reality and spin a positive and optimistic picture that will inspire his supporters.
And no matter how many facts may contradict the claims of the president’s vision, that vision never changes and there never seems a moment when he doubts he is right.
The president reminded the audience that he first spoke there eight years ago as a new senator.
He noted the changes that have taken place. He’s now president. He now has gray hair.
But what has not changed is the inside of the man. His views have not budged an inch from those of the young senator of eight years earlier.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the current economic recovery “is one of the weakest on record, averaging 2 percent. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 was .4 percent. It rose to a still anemic 1.8 percent in the first quarter, but most economists are predicting even slower growth in the second quarter.”
Yet, the president has no doubt that his policies are right. He ticks off the litany of big government programs that allegedly saved us from economic depression. And, with a slight nod that economic reality is not as rosy as he paints it, he concedes, “We’re not there yet.”
Perhaps it’s again worth recalling the $831 billion stimulus package in 2009 that supposedly would keep unemployment below 8 percent. As unemployment galloped past 10 percent, never was there a hint of doubt from the president that his policies were right.
We’re just “not there yet.”
Now the president tells us we have to keep big, activist government going to save America’s languishing middle class.
But the facts are that the middle class has fared poorly under big government.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, median household income — $51,761 — remains way below where it was before the recession started — $56,289 – and where it was when it began — $54, 218.
But, perhaps most notable in the president’s remarks is what he did not say.
A magnificent economic miracle has occurred during this presidency. But the president did not find it worth mentioning because it has nothing to do with government.
Breakthroughs in technology have produced a boom in American energy production. American oil production is up 37 percent over the last two years, reversing 20 years of decline.
As of last March, the United States has become the largest oil producer in the world. Oil imports have dropped to 36 percent of our total oil consumption, down from 60 percent in 2006 and the lowest level since 1987.
No government planner could have ever dreamed of this type of miracle. It was not many years ago we were hearing about the world running out of oil.
According to Mr. Obama we are really dealing with different visions of how the world works. And he’s right.
One is driven by government planning — socialism. The other is driven by freedom and private ownership — capitalism.
Our president seems to be genetically hardwired to the socialist view. And his portrayal of capitalism is harsh.
But as the new American oil boom attests, it is freedom and capitalism that releases the human spirit, taps human creativity and produces prosperity that could never come from any government planner.
Few things are harsher than a stalled economy. People wanting to work and can’t.
Even Barack Obama’s charisma is failing to mask the fact that if America is to recover, we need to restore the spirit of capitalism.