Is This Obama’s "Fundamentally-Transformed" America?

At the close of the 2008 campaign, Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” America.  Is today’s America the reflection of that transformation?  Let’s look at several indicators of Obama’s efforts:

A Weaker American Military

A 10 July 2015 article in the Fiscal Times announced Obama’s plans to reduce the Army by 60,000 soldiers. Among the complaints regarding this drastic action were observations how this would affect American’s safety in an ever-more-dangerous world:

“Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska called the cuts in her state ‘devastating’ and ‘short-sighted.; She argued that they make no sense when the country needs a tough defense in the Arctic as well as responding to potential threats from Russia, China and North Korea.”

In a similar 10 July 2015 article in the Christianity Today, more of the history of Obama’s reduction-in-force plans came to light:

In 2014, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel first announced a plan to cut the Army to pre-9/11 levels and pre-World War II levels in a 2015 budget proposal.

A document from the Department of National Defense acquired by USA Today said the number of American Army troopers reached 570,000 during the peak of wars in Iraq and Pakistan.

Citing documents, USA Today explained that the Army might also need to cut an additional 30,000 soldiers if automatic budget cuts or sequestration begins in October.

“At that level, the Army would not be able to meet its current deployments and respond to demands for troops in other regions,” USA Today said.

Reuters reported on 9 July 2015:

“The cuts would reduce the active-duty Army from about 490,000 soldiers to about 450,000, its smallest size since World War Two. The Army said it had about 490,000 soldiers before the 2001 attacks, rising to about 570,000 in 2012 before reductions began.

‘These cuts will impact nearly every Army installation, both in the continental United States and overseas,’ said Brigadier General Randy George, director of Army force management. ‘These are incredibly difficult choices,’ he said.

The cuts, first announced more than a year ago, come as the Pentagon is absorbing nearly $1 trillion in reductions to planned defense spending over a decade.

George said unless Congress moves to end spending limits currently in the law, the Army will have to cut the size of the force by a further 30,000 soldiers by the end of the decade.

‘The resulting force would be incapable of simultaneously meeting current deployment requirements and responding to overseas contingency requirements,’ he said.

George said three Army combat brigades in Georgia, Alaska and Hawaii would be significantly restructured. Two of them would be reduced from brigade-sized units of about 4,000 to battalion task forces of about 1,050. One would lose its Stryker fighting vehicles and become a regular infantry brigade.

A Weaker Economy

As observed in an 6 March 2015 CNS News article, a weak economy has become the mark of the Obama administration:

“The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013.

Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.”

A 2 July 2015 Fortune article also related how our labor participation rates have fallen to 1970’s levels:

Here’s something unique about America not to celebrate on July 4th: Our shrinking workforce.

On Thursday, the government reported that the U.S. added 223,000 jobs last month. It’s a decent number, and it shows that the economy is still expanding, though not quite spectacularly. The jobs report also included a figure that suggests the labor market is perhaps a lot weaker than many think. The number of people in the workforce dropped by 432,000 in June, to just over 157 million. That translates to 62.6% of the overall population, the lowest the labor force participation rate has been since 1977.

Although Obama cannot be fully be blamed for a trend that has been building since the 1970’s, the policies of the Democrat party (unwavering support of abortion, support of programs that break up the family, support of tax rates burdensome to families, etc.) do share the blame. As shown in a 3 October 2014 Business Insider article:

“Today’s jobs report, while overall very strong, showed a slight tick down in the labor force participation rate, from 62.8% last month to 62.7% this month. It’s now at the lowest rate since 1978.

Why the participation rate has fallen so much is one of the most hotly debated questions in economics. On the one hand, America is aging (blogger’s comment: and has lost many to abortion), and the baby boomers are beginning to retire. That leads to a natural demographic decline in the participation rate.

On the other hand, the US is coming out of the worst recession it has faced in decades, and the participation rate dropped much more sharply since 2008. The cyclical effects from the recession may also be a big factor in the declining participation rate.”

As shown by this graph generated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis, labor participation rates have been on a steady decline:

Highest Food Stamp Usage

A 20 February 2014 article in the Weekly Standard points out the facts about Food Stamp usage under Obama:

“A recently released Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on the “Food Assistance Landscape” for the fiscal year 2013 shows that for the second year in a row, participation in the federal government’s SNAP (food stamps) program has increased despite a corresponding drop in the unemployment rate, bucking the historical trend. The unemployment rate fell below 8 percent in 2013. On the other hand, the percentage of the U.S. population on food stamps in 2013 rose to the highest level ever, just over 15 percent at 47,600,000 persons.”

A 2013 study by Pew Research found:

A 7 October 2014 CNS News article cited federal records when it said:

“The number of Americans on food stamps has topped 46,000,000 for 35 straight months, according to data from the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

From September 2011 through July 2014, the latest month for which data is available, the number of persons participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has exceeded 46 million. As of July 2014, there were 46,486,434 beneficiaries of the SNAP program.”

Highest Unemployment/Underemployment

One News Now quotes economist Dan Celia regarding the government-issued report on unemployment:

“The most recent job numbers from the feds included a report on private sector jobs for February. It looks as though we have added 295,000 jobs. Most hailed this as good news, particularly since the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent. This is about as close to full employment as you can get – and it should be good news, assuming all the numbers are accurate and the economy is thriving.

But here’s the deception: 102 million people aren’t working, including about nine million who are officially counted as unemployed and the 93 million who’ve given up. Are these numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics accurate? Ninety-three million adults aren’t in the labor force. That’s up from about 79 million from when we began to head into recession seven years ago.

But the BLS only takes into account a population of 250 million because they only consider those who are over 16 (that’s convenient for the administration). If they would use the real population of America and not just those over 16 years of age, the real number of Americans who are not working is over 170 million, not 100 million. Government spending, tax revenues and GDP growth need to keep up with 170 million. So you decide: what is a true representation of our economy?”

A 14 August 2014 Forbes article relates the heartache of underemployment in Obama’s America:

Imagine being served your poolside drinks by a lawyer, or getting your chicken sandwich delivered by an experienced marketing professional. The first is a friend of mine, the second my waitress a few weeks ago. Both lost jobs due to economic downturns at their organizations. Both took available work to pay the bills while looking for new positions in their chosen professions.

My friend and the waitress are victims of a massive but hidden problem called underemployment. Watching falling unemployment numbers being reported at 6.2%, down from nearly 10% four years earlier, is simply misleading.

Despite the significant decrease in the official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment rate, the real unemployment rate is over double that at 12.6%. This number reflects the government’s “U-6” report, which accounts for the full unemployment picture including those “marginally attached to the labor force,” plus those “employed part time for economic reasons.”

A 31 July 2014 article by Peter Morici in the Hill points out that:

Friday, the Labor Department is expected to report the economy added 235,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate remained steady at 6.1 percent, but that hardly tells the story.

The jobless rate may be down from its recession peak of 10 percent, but much of this results from adults, discouraged by the lack of decent job openings, having quit altogether. They are neither employed nor looking for work.

Only about half of the drop in the adult participation rate may be attributed to the Baby Boom generation reaching retirement age. Lacking adequate resources to retire, a larger percentage of adults over 65 are working than before the recession.

Many Americans who would like full time jobs are stuck in part-time positions, because businesses can hire desirable part-time workers to supplement a core of permanent, full-time employees, but at lower wages. And Obamacare’s employer health insurance mandates will not apply to workers on the job less than 30 hours a week.

Since 2000, Congress has enhanced the earned income tax credit, and expanded programs that provide direct benefits to low-income workers, including food stamps, Medicaid, Obamacare, and rent and mortgage assistance.

Virtually all phase out as family incomes rise, either by securing higher hourly pay or working more hours, and impose an effective marginal tax rate as high as 50 percent. Consequently, these programs discourage work and skills acquisition, and encourage single parents and one partner in two adult households not to work. Often, these motivate single people to work only part-time.

Undocumented immigrants face more difficulties accessing these programs, and lax immigration enforcement permits them to openly take jobs that government benefits discourage low-income Americans from accepting.

One News Now further quotes economist Dan Celia regarding the true unemployment rate:

“If we really have a 5.5-percent unemployment rate, it’s unlike any other 5.5-percent unemployment rate in the history of any recovery. Many on the Left are quick to remind us that at one point during the peak of the recession we had a 10-percent unemployment rate. But I would like to remind them that this was back when we had a strong labor participation rate.

If we step away from 1978 labor participation rates for a moment, use our current participation, and use the real population numbers, we have over a 30-percent unemployment rate. These are not my numbers – this is using what is in plain sight from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau.

In a true 5.5-percent unemployment environment, it would be almost impossible to keep wages from climbing. The fact that isn’t happening now further confirms the reported numbers aren’t even close to reality. Wages will go up and the standard of living will improve when the labor market is truly tightening and workers have the opportunity to move from job to job for higher wages; in other words, when employers are having more and more difficulty finding workers.

However, that doesn’t describe today’s environment. We have no wage growth because the reported tight labor market is nothing more than a government-created illusion.

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