By John D. Turner
18 Oct 2012

I am glad I watched this most recent presidential debate. Not that it caused me to change my vote or anything; there is no way that I will ever vote for Mr. Obama. But rather, because it highlighted one of the reasons why the country is in the current mess that it is in. It’s not because George W. Bush was the most awful president in the history of the country, and handed poor Mr. Obama such a mess that no one could have possibly have fixed it. No, it’s more that. When it comes to economic matters, Mr. Obama isn’t just a lightweight, but more like an ignoramus.

Nowhere was this better illustrated than by his response to Mitt Romney’s comments on the increase in the price of gas since he took office. When asked by the moderator to address Governor Romney’s statement that if his [President Obama’s] energy policy was working, the price of gas would not be nearly $4 per gallon.

"Think about what the governor just said. That when I took office the price of gas was about 180 -186. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney’s now promoting. So it's conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down the gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess." – Barack Obama, second presidential debate, 16 Oct 2012.

So apparently, our president believes that the “low” price of gas at the end of the Bush administration (which I didn’t really think was all that low), was due to the fact that the economy was on the verge of collapse. And, by extension, the reason why prices are so high now is because he (Mr. Obama) has done such a great job of getting the economy going again.

So, in President Obama’s economic world, a roaring economy leads to high gas prices, while a collapsing economy leads to low gas prices. The U.S. currently has an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, according to the latest government figures (and don’t get me started on that number – that is a whole ‘nother article), with 23 million Americans (that are still looking) currently out of work. I wonder what the price of gas in Obamanomics will be if the unemployment rate comes back down to what it was under George W. Bush.

I know that it is fashionable to look only at the unemployment rate when George Bush left office, and to compare that with the unemployment rate that is current at any point during the nearly four years that President Obama has been in office and to say, “hey, look what he left us with.” But in reality, unemployment during the Bush years was pretty good, averaging around 5% for most of the eight years of his presidency. It was only during the latter part of 2008 that the rate went up dramatically, hitting 7.3% during his last full month in office, Dec 2008. This is a full 0.5% less than the current dubious rate of 7.8% that Obama finally got it down to, 45 months into his presidency.

Just for comparison purposes, here are the unemployment rates for the 8 years of the Bush administration:

Give me the Bush policies any day! As a bumper sticker I saw recently, with a picture of Dubya on it said, “Miss me yet?”

The point is, under President Obama, unemployment is at 7.8% and gas is nearly $4/gallon. At, say 5% unemployment, one would have to think that the economy was “revved up” more than it is today. So by Mr. Obama’s reckoning, should gas prices have been somewhere north of 6-8 dollars a gallon? I don’t remember them being that high.

The economic collapse we had during the end of the Bush administration was triggered by the collapse of the housing bubble. Is the president trying to make the case that housing and gas prices are somehow linked?

Mr. Obama sees a linkage between low gas prices and bad economic policy promulgated by the Republicans; the same sort of policy that he claims Mr. Romney, by virtue of being a Republican, will foist upon us once more. He may bring down your gas prices, the president claims, but only at the cost of destroying the economy once again. Is that what you want, he asks?

He thinks a robust economy, which we currently are not enjoying, Michelle’s comments to the contrary notwithstanding, is responsible for higher gas prices. There is no evidence for this in the history of the country. When I was growing up, gas was 26 cents a gallon, and the economy was not in collapse. Of course, the money was worth more. One could make the case that one reason that gas prices are up is because inflation is up. On the other hand, he says inflation is low, so that can't be the problem, can it?

Conversely, he does not see any linkage between higher gas prices and the restricted granting of drilling leases, restrictions on off-shore drilling, and the denial of permits to build the Keystone pipeline.

This is because despite his paean to capitalism in his closing remarks, which was, quite frankly, bizarre, this president knows absolutely nothing about how capitalism works, economics, or the laws of supply and demand. His economic policies are totally ideologically driven. They have no basis in reality; rather they are grounded in what he “feels” to be true, what he would like to be true.

To be fair, no one really expects a president to be an expert on everything. That isn’t a president’s job. A president’s job is to lead, to focus the nation in a particular direction, and to handle executive decisions as they arise. This is one of the reasons why a president surrounds himself or herself with experts in various disciplines like, for example, economics. In fact, we were told at the beginning of his administration that Ben Bernanke, the President’s pick for head of the Fed, was the only person in the entire country qualified to lead the United States out of the terrible situation that the despicable President Bush had left us in. This despite the fact that Mr. Bernanke was somehow unable to correctly pay his taxes, a fact that came to light during his confirmation by the Senate.

Be that as it may, Mr. Bernanke became Fed Chairman where he serves today and guides the US economy through the difficult economic times that were left as a legacy of George W. Bush. Only through his deft handling, most recently QE3 (third round of quantitative easing), will the nation persevere.

Ever heard of Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe is an African nation (once known as Rhodesia), which is the latest example of completely out of control hyperinflation which has economically destroyed the country. Recently, Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in his 2012 mid-term monetary policy statement talked about how he, as governor of the reserve bank, destroyed the Zimbabwe dollar and created the resulting hyperinflation. In the document, he draws parallels between his policy and Bernanke’s QE3. Frightening. But then again, this is Bernanke, President Obama’s hand-picked economic genius. Surely, he knows better than the head of the central bank in some backwards African nation.

One can only hope and pray.

The only thing is that this president, instead of surrounding himself with competent experts, seems instead to have surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues. Last debate, the president depended on John Kerry to coach him to victory. That didn’t work out so well. I wonder who the coach was this time. How could one send a president out into a presidential debate this ill-prepared?

All I know is that things have not gotten better in the past four years. The policies that the president has put into place have not worked. Despite what he may think or say, this is not what an economic recovery looks like. I have been through multiple economic ups and downs. This is by far the longest “recovery” I have ever seen. The methods used in the past of getting us out of a downturn have, despite what he says on the campaign trail, worked much better than what he has done.

Three years have passed since the “greatest recession since the Great Depression” ended. Unemployment is still high; higher than it was when Barack Obama took office. Economic activity is still low and getting lower. Some economists are saying now that we are back in recession, a “double dip” recession as they call it. Fifty Percent of new college graduates are unable to get jobs in their degree fields. Many Americans have given up looking for work altogether and many more are only working in temp jobs – if it weren’t for that the unemployment numbers would be higher still. In February 2012 Forbes magazine puts the “real” unemployment rate at 11%. In October 2012 they changed the numbers to 14.7% and added that a new recession is on the way. More Americans are on food stamps than at any other time in the nation’s history.

This is a “recovery?” This is what economic success looks like? Well, perhaps it is, for a president who thinks that gas prices drop when the economy is bad and increase dramatically when the economy is good. For a president who thinks that gas prices and housing prices are somehow linked. For a president who thinks that you can restrict supply and somehow not cause prices to rise. Who thinks that a (bogus) 7.8% unemployment rate is great news.

And we should give Barack Obama four more years? For what?