11 ways the U.S. economy still ‘isn’t fixed’


Former President Clinton, in Ohio, yesterday:

Governor Romney’s argument is ‘we’re not fixed, so fire [President Obama] and put me in.’ It is true, we’re not fixed.

Clinton probably doesn’t know how right he is.

1.  U.S. publicly held debt as a share of GDP was 41% in 2008. It is projected to be 76% next year —  and more or less stay at that historically high level for another decade under the most recent Obama budget. Then it really gets bad.

2. During the more than three-year Obama recovery, we’ve recovered only 4.8 million private-sector jobs of the 8.9 million lost during the Great Recession. During the Reagan recovery, it took just a year to recover all the lost jobs.

3. At the current pace of job creation the past two years — and assuming labor force participation stays constant — the economy won’t return to the Bush low of 4.4% unemployment for 9 more years.

4. The current level of private sector jobs remains nearly 13 million below where it would be if the labor market was back to normal and creating jobs at what economists call a “trend recovery.” Lots of catch up still to be done.

5. The output gap — the difference between where the economy would be if it was recovering normally (the blue line below) and where it actually is (the red line) — remains wide:

6. The United States now ranks 7th in the World Economic Forum competitiveness rankings out of 144 nations. It was 1st back in 2008.

7. There are fewer new firms being formed today than two years ago when the recession ended, according to a Hudson Institute study. In fact, the rate of startup jobs during 2010 and 2011 — years in which the economy was technically in full recovery — are the lowest on record.

8. Real average hourly earnings fell 0.2%, seasonally adjusted, from September 2011 to September 2012, according to the Labor Department. 

9. Too Big To Fail still exists despite Dodd Frank, as evidenced by the cost-of-funding advantage big banks hold over small banks. In fact, the borrowing edge is virtually the same as it was four years ago.

10. Median household income has fallen 5% on an inflation- adjusted basis since the recession ended in June 2009, according an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Sentier Research. That’s more than the 3% drop during the Great Recession itself.

11. When Obama took office, the U.S. had a fiscally unsustainable safety net, uncompetitive tax system, and an anti-innovation immigration policy. All are still true today.

So, yeah, I guess you could say, we’re “not fixed.” Excellent analysis, Mr. President.

50 thoughts on “11 ways the U.S. economy still ‘isn’t fixed’

    • Obama a few years ago on TV interview:

      “Look, if I don’t have this fixed in three years, then its a one-term proposition.”

      Four years (not three) later…$5.5 trillion more debt, record spending, record deficits, record foreclosures, record low home prices, record bankruptcies, record numbers on food stamps, record poverty levels, not one job created, college tuitions and healthcare costs surging, 50% of college grads unemployed and household incomes plunging $4,000, $4-5 gasoline at the pump, denial of terrorist attacks and the resulting murder of Americans.

      This is a one-term abysmally failed, track record…little wonder why Gallup has Romney ahead 52-45.

  1. re: “not fixed, Reagan vs Bush/Obama

    the recession that hit in 2008 was twice as damaging as Reagan’s recession and damn close to the depression in many respects.

    No, we are not “fixed” – but tell me how much Obama himself added to the debt:

    the rest is damage from the biggest recession in the history of the country.

    Could John McCain and the GOP fixed it?

    Not likely, because neither would agree to new revenue or cuts to DOD.

    that leaves little else to work with.

    It is quite likely if we had no stimulus and went the austerity route that we would have had a depression.

    It’s all debatable of course but what is being debated is what happened and what will happen and it’s more speculation than proof.

    Looking at Romney’s budget, I just don’t see how we go about balancing the budget.

    For instance, there are no estimates, no projections of what tax reform will generate in additional revenues.

    at least the sequester puts a number on it – 100 billion a year for 10 years and we know how it gets the 100 billion that INCLUDES increased taxes AND cuts to entitlements and DOD.

    If there is a different ostensibly “better” plan, we have no clue what it is in comparison to the sequester.

    • The damage during the Carter-Reagan period was much worse.

      Wikipedia Misery Index Highs:
      Jimmy Carter – 21.98
      Ronald Reagan – 19.93
      G.H.W. Bush – 12.47
      Clinton – 10.56 [Gingrich, really]
      G.W. Bush – 11.47
      Obama – 12.97

      Our problem simply is there has been no recovery under Obama. People are quitting the workforce and depending on government. We are borrowing our way towards doom like Europe, doubling down on regulations which pretend to reduce risk, putting taxpayers on the hook for bailouts, fighting energy producers, and about to take over medicine’s 17% of GDP. The Fed is the only thing propping up the stock market, the financial system, and the fantastic borrowing by the federal government. This ain’t working.

      • ” The damage during the Carter-Reagan period was much worse. ”

        they had 2/3 of the auto manufacturers and the biggest banks on Wall Street on the verge of collapse?

        have you actually looked at what happened under Reagan:

        you guys live in a mystical dream world where you only look at thing that confirm your erroneous beliefs and shut out facts that contradict them.

        at least look at the real history guy.

        this was by far the most damaging recession in the history of the country.

        If the auto companies and Wall Street banks went under, we’d be in a full depression again.

        but you guys – ya’ll were in favor of letting the car companies and wall street go under – using the same myopic reasoning you use now.

        • GM went under–Chapter II.

          Bankruptcy is as under as you can get. The only thing that survived was the name. And the next thing to go tlts up is the Chevy Volt.

    • Not likely, because neither would agree to new revenue or cuts to DOD“…

      Leave it to larry the liberal to flame out again when the facts get in the way…

      DOD isn’t the biggest problem, extorted tax dollars to pander to parasites is the problem as you’ve been shown on numerous occassions before…

      • re: entitlements

        Heritage is INCLUDING Fed Govt civilian an military retirement and health care in their categoy.

        Those categories should belong to DOD not general revenue entitlements since they are benefits – NOT entitlements.

        The same is true of people who have paid into SS. That was THEIR money that they did earn.

        but the dishonestly is only part of the idiocy when you take into again that DOD more than doubled since 2000 as did Homeland Security – AND other national defense expenditures like NASA satellites.

        It does matter that you HONESTLY depict the actual data which Heritage, Cato and AEI simply dishonestly refuse to do.

        The idiocy here is that even if you completely zeroed out all REAL entitlements, you’d not cover the deficit.

        No sane person in this country would believe or advocate that we can balance the budget with entitlement cuts alone.

        so we’re dealing with some seriously delusional types Juandos.

        between dishonesty and idiocy – these folks are simply in denial about the realities.

  2. Of course its not fixed. The conceit offered by Mr. Pethokoukis is that it should be.

    I was in front of a Thompson terminal on September 15, 2008. I knew THEN this wouldn’t be “fixed” by now.
    If Mr. Pethokoukis didn’t he has no business commenting on the economy.

    “Reagan recovery” your @ss.

    • Obama legitimately owns about a trillion of the debt – not the deficit as the stimulus was a one shot deal and we’d probably be in a depression without it – but that can and will be debated.

      but what’s not fair and totally untrue is where the rest of the debt came from on his watch.

      It was from previous budgets – that carried forward as CRs and neither party would agree on taxes and cuts.

      and for that matter STILL don’t agree.

      so, for instance, DOD spending more than doubled in the 2000 Bush years and never got rolled back.

      same thing with Homeland Security

      ditto with entitlements.

      the folks who often point out the debt imply that Obama has added 6 trillion in debt and he has not.

      and listening to Romney talk about how he’d balance the budget is comical as he is saying that his plan to reform the tax code in a “revenue-neutral” way will balance the budget.

      This is the same plan that Bush had and Ryan does – as it totally relies on tax cuts to generate enough growth to balance the budget and pay down the debt.

      problem is, it failed under Bush, and it EVEN failed under Reagan as he had to backtrack as his cuts started increasing the deficit.

      It’s fine to debate – it’s good but when you using dishonesty and lies to portray the fiscal landscape no one interests are really served. It just becomes a partisan food fight other tax-cut theories and absolutely no “Plan B” if the “cuts produce offsetting revenue growth” theory fails – as it did under Bush.

      It produced SOME growth but not near enough to keep the budget balanced and there was no Plan B if it failed.

      that’s just plain fiscally irresponsible and all the more ironic coming from folks who portray themselves as fiscal conservatives.

      • Obama legitimately owns about a trillion of the debt“…

        Just what planet do you live on larry g?

        Actually Obama can share that being a big spender title with the R.I.N.O.s in the House which as you should know is the source of government permission to spend money…

        • re: ” big spender title with the R.I.N.O.s in the House which as you should know is the source of government permission to spend money…”

          the current budget is largely the one that was voted on during George Bush’s term.

          Its TRUE that Obama did not cut … but it’s also true that the GOP refused to also or they proposed cuts that were not serious and refused to cut DOD, and still do even though it has more than doubled in Bush’s term.

          When you double the DOD budget and cut taxes at the same time – and the budget goes into deficit – you have to be a moron to not see what happened but we do seem to have our share of morons these days.

          right Juandos?

        • Obama catapulted government spending to 25% of GDP versus the normal 18-20%. His fingerprints are on every dime of that $5.5 trillion of new debt–more than the combined total of all presidents prior to B-II.

          The DNA evidence is in…your messiah is the daddy–he owns it.

          • ” Obama catapulted government spending to 25% of GDP versus the normal 18-20%. His fingerprints are on every dime of that $5.5 trillion of new debt-”

            tell me how he alone approved the spending…

            do you know how the budget works sport or do you just make things up so suit your ideology?

            The President cannot spend a dime without Congressional approval.


      • The stimulus was a horrific and criminal waste of money. Obama bought Bernstein and Roemer’s 1.5X multiplier hook, line and sinker. But instead of getting back 1.5 dollars of GDP back for every government dollar spent, we got less than $0.5 back if you add in transfer payments.

        JMK’s multiplier turned was a divisor. It didn’t work in the Great Depression and it didn’t work this time either.

        In the long run, JMK was only right about one thing.

        • ” The stimulus was a horrific and criminal waste of money.”

          perhaps debatable but worse than Iraq and WMD or Iran-Contra?

          you seem to have a double standard here, eh?

    • max whining again says: “I was in front of a Thompson terminal on September 15, 2008. I knew THEN this wouldn’t be “fixed” by now“…

      I doubt you had a clue then because it appears you’re absolutely clueless now…

    • You should have shared your wisdom with the messiah who said in a TV interview that “If I don’t have this fixed in there years, then this will be a one-term proposition.”

      Meanwhile, 4-years later…

      • re: POTUS words

        Reagan: I was out of the loop on IranContra

        Bush I – “read my lips”

        Bush II – bank collapse ” what happened”?
        I’m a decider and a uniter”

        Clinton: “I did not have sex”

        so what exactly is your point?


          Neither Reagan, Bush I, Bush II nor Clinton are running in 2012.

          The guy who is running–Obama–is more famous for what he didn’t say. He has yet to call Benghazi a terrorist attack.

          He is hoping that America will not notice is failed COVERUP. Monday night, the messiah gets to drop his pants, bend over and hold onto his ankles as 70 million folks watch him wiggle, squirm and lie.

          • ” NEWSFLASH…NEWSFLASH…NEWSFLASH… Neither Reagan, Bush I, Bush II nor Clinton are running in 2012. The guy who is running–Obama”

            yup and he’s not much different than the others.

            Did you jump up and down when the others did the same?

            I bet not. You saved it JUST for this guy, right?

      • ” You should have shared your wisdom with the messiah who said in a TV interview that “If I don’t have this fixed in there years, then this will be a one-term proposition.” Meanwhile, 4-years later”

        there is no Messiah. He’s a politician who made dumb and arrogant statement but all politicians including Bush and Romney make arrogant and dumb statements.

        DId you vote originally for Obama and changed your mind or were you opposed from the get go?

        Do you REALLY think that McCain and Pallin would do better or did you just want a GOPer no matter what?

        Have you EVER voted for a Dem or are you a lifelong GOPer?

        I’ve voted GOP in both state and Fed elections myself and I basically voted for Obama because McCain is a neocon that would have put us in 3 more wars and Pallin is an idiot who as Gov was a disaster.

        If Romney had run against Obama the choice would have been tougher but he lost to McCain because he was too RINO and not NeoCon enough.

        Now, the right wing is SO desperate that they’ll take a RINO…??? when they wouldn’t against a NeoCon Geezer and Bimbo LITE????? amazing…


        • McCain and Palin would have never had JMK in their corner and they would have correctly focused on fixing the economy and not creating socialized medicine Frankenstein that 70% of American’s don’t want.

          Your incompetent messiah squandered his opportunity, made things worse, dug America financial ditch and failed CARPE DIEM-101.

          • ” McCain and Palin would have never….”

            they would have had us in even more countries in the Middle East spend even more money that we don’t have …

            did you complain when Bush lied and people died or were you more “forgiving”?

            Are you opposed to a black man or a Muslim being POTUS?

        • You can find the AWOL messiah either in DNC Headquarters or the Oval Office. He can no longer be found in the first pew of Jeremiah’s Wright’s Chicago “hate-whitey” cult.

  3. ECONOMICS 101:

    Going back over 100 years, there are volumes of evidence that the strength of right recovery leg of the “V” recession mirrors or reflects the the severity of the decline in the left leg. Bottom line…big recession–powerful rebound. Weak recession–weak rebound.

    And that also goes for financial recession as well; the dem’s case that financial recessions are somehow different is not supported by history and evidence.

    So how has this recovery been so different from the early 1980s which saw near 11% unemployment and 21% interest rates, double-digit inflation and harpooned S&Ls?

    Over comparable identical periods from the start of recovery, Reagan’s 1980s recovery generated 5.7 % GDP annualized growth and millions of jobs and Obamas “recovery” generated 2.2% GDP growth–plunging to just 1.3% in the last quarter and no jobs–the same number of folks that were working when Obama took office hasn’t changed in almost 4 years.

    Why the big difference? They were both severe and both financial. The difference was in the way Reagan reacted to the economic challenge compared to Obama. Cutting marginal tax rates and rolling back costly and hostile regulations worked. In sharp contrast, Obama committed to higher taxes as well as massive and expensive regulations. He declared war on capitalism, big business, profits and free markets. He took companies over by totalitarian fiat. He punished winners and picked losers. Policies matter.

    No wonder the result differed so very greatly. No wonder why Reagan succeeded and Obama failed.

    • “He declared war on capitalism, big business, profits and free markets. He took companies over by totalitarian fiat.”

      Gee. That must explain the record profits, massive stock buybacks and dividend increases, as well as giant cash hoards.

      Unreal- I never dreamed that people could be so willfully blind to the idiocy of their own rhetoric. A parrot that can drive a car. Whaddya know?

      • It explains why crude oil drilling permits are down 38% on government land and why big business are stashing trillion of dollars overseas and not hiring in the USA.

        • crude oil drilling permits are down 38% on government land

          It’s Obama’s fault that natural gas prices collapsed under his watchful eye and then producers in Wyoming and Utah materially slowed down their drilling programs and expressed less interest in federal acreage for leasing. LMAO

          BLM data

          • ” It’s Obama’s fault that natural gas prices collapsed under his watchful eye”

            not because of increased Nat Gas production ?

            isn’t it a GOOD thing to have prices go down?

            what planet do you live on boy?

          • “It’s Obama’s fault that natural gas prices collapsed under his watchful eye and then producers in Wyoming and Utah materially slowed down their drilling programs and expressed less interest in federal acreage for leasing. LMAO”

            Is this man an exempar of a stunning intellect or what? He HATES Obama since high oil prices MUST be his fault, and he HATES Obama AGAIN when Natural Gas is cheaper.

            If that isn’t the sign of a hate pathology nothing is.

            BTW, you made one true statement- demand for setting up new drill sites goes down when the price of the commodity goes down, which is why the Federal leases the wingnut websites drive themselves into hysteria never get used. Even the ones that are leased are simply sat on, and they sit on the company books as an “asset.” Another steaming heap of BS blown to bits.

            That’s how capitalism works, you right wing dopes- higher prices force new supply on the market and prices are then kept in equilibrium. Works with every commodity you can name.

  4. So the Reagan recovery is the “one size fits all” recovery?
    So the likening of the 2007 crisis to the Great Depression was all just hubub to give Obama a break eh?

    oh my goodness! god forbid we have a crisis like this one where we’ve bottomed and haven’t recouped all the jobs lost within 5 years!!!

    How about we be more diligent about the benchmarks we use to criticize someone else’s performance.

    • Hear, hear. It will take a long time to cure the nation of the cancer that Bush left us.

      And that is just a hard truth we’ll have to live with. Having said that, I think next year is gonna be a lot better than almost everyone thinks it is. Cliff or no cliff.

      • re: Bush and supply side

        Bush, like others now, believed he could duplicate what he though Reagan did – even though Reagan’s own Budget Director – Stockman warned it was a sham and needed “just right” conditions to have a chance to work. He admitted it was very risky business with no viable Plan B if it failed. Even under Reagan, the deficit almost doubled and they had to backtrack on the tax cuts.

        Bush had no clue, like many folks today – they have a mythical idea of how supply-side works or not and what the consequences are if it fails.

        Bush showed us what happens when supply-side fails to produce enough revenues to keep debt from increasing – and the man had no Plan B and now we have the same budget he created with the GOP and it continues to spend a trillion more than tax-cuts generate in growth.

        You do not need to be a genius to understand this but it does help to have half a brain to go with the right-wing ideology.

        Stockman was and continues to be a fiscal conservative and he does not like Obama’s “tax only the rich” approach either.

        But dumping Obama to go back to Bush’s failed policies is even worse.

        look at Romney’s “revenue-neutral” tax reform plan and tell me how we get growth if overall there is no more revenue in the hands of taxpayers.

        In order to “believe” that revenue-neutral tax reform will generate growth – you have to believe the people who currently benefit from lower taxes from tax loopholes invested/spent that money differently than the folks who will receive tax cuts with a lower marginal rate – paid for by removing tax loopholes from others.

        The whole idea is nutty but what is really scary is we have people who believe it.

        Reaganomics did not have a 16 trillion deficit threatening bankrupt the country,

        You can’t reach a balanced budget with cuts only to entitlements, no tax/revenue changes, .

        but in the mythical world of supply-side / voodoo economics we have “believers” – one of whom is NOT Reagan’s own budget director.

        • When I see “the failed policies of the past,” it annoys me. It’s taken decades and many administrations to blow up the stock market, personal debt and housing bubbles. The bursting of the last two are the cause of the current slowdown. It was Greenspan, Bernanke, Barney Frank, Fannie, Freddie, Clinton and Bush (to name a few) that have brought us to our current position.

          Now, we’re in a position where interest rates are zero (liquidity trap), the economy is so weak that you’re damned if you try to raise taxes and damned if you try to actually cut the budget (something that has never happened in modern history except after WWII). You’re also damned if you attempted to increase deficit spending.

          Pro-growth policies are the only way out. It may require corporate tax cuts and some middle class cuts to “kick-start” the economy. Pro-growth policies must accompany the ‘kick-start.’

          • the Bush tax cuts resulted in a deficit not enough increase in revenue to pay for increased spending.

            there was no Plan B if the tax cuts failed and we went into deficit.

            then the economy went belly up.

            you cannot continue cutting taxes without increasing the deficit.

            we have the sequester on the table that will cut spending. It won’t come free; it will surely result in DOD layoffs.

            there are no sugar pills.

            Romney’s “plan” is to essentially trade tax loopholes for a local overall marginal rate – “revenue neutral”.

            how do you get growth out of that if it results in no new money in the economy just some people with more money (from lower marginal rate) and others (those who used to have loopholes) – less?

            I do not see how that cuts the deficit.

            I do not see how that creates growth.

            what it looks like is that we’re going to continue to add a trillion in deficit a year to the debt.

            I’d LOVE to see a better idea from Romney but the idea he’s got right now is bogus.

    • Disputes between democrats and republicans are like eating a pig and a dog. A dog is morally wrong… but a pig… it seems to be okay for most of us –at least for breakfast. What we view as morally “wrong” is a view that we hold dear and we probably cannot be persuaded to change it – regardless of your political party. That is until things are put in context. In 2008, whatever was handed down to Obama could have been given to McCain and Palin and they would have had to deal with the same issues. But if you consider the political scenario as a football team that hired a new head-coach everyone would give this coach time to get the team together. How long would the owner of the team let the new coach to keep blaming the last coach, especially if the progress was slow, regardless of how bad the team was and what unforeseen challenges presented themselves? Probably not 4 years. How long would the fans keep supporting the new coach? Probably nowhere near the 45% that supports President Obama. You can change the scenario to a new manager, new employee or many other scenarios and I believe most of us would not give as much time as we have given to President Obama. Then spend twice as much as the previous coach, take more than twice as many fund raising days (164 vs. 86) than the previous coach and a new context emerges that may just stimulate a little more than the same old thinking.

      • I’d be satisfied with ONE THING from those who espouse supply-side.

        Tell me what happens if the expected growth does not occur in the amount needed – and the deficit get worse.

        Why would we tinker once again with supply-side when we are already in debt by 16 trillion as a result of the previous policy?

        I’m not talking Dem or GOP or Bush or Romney or Obama.

        just a simple answer to that question.

  5. Gallup Poll among likely voters, Oct 21:


    Nice, very nice…held the big gap right through the weekend. O is on the ropes and the referee is giving him a close look.

    Florida and Virginia…in R’s bag!!!

    • re: Benghazi

      what a load of tripe.

      Bush lied about WMD and how many people died and got sliced/diced?

      Reagan – Iran Contra – “who me, I was out of the loop”

      ” U.S. President Ronald Reagan called the [Beirut] attack a “despicable act” and pledged to keep a military force in Lebanon. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who had privately advised the administration against stationing U.S. Marines in Lebanon,

      Mr. Bush felt he was “blindsided” over the Abu Ghraib photos of prisoner abuse. He wrote that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld informed him about the military investigation into reports of abuse, but he was not aware of the graphic nature of the photos.

      “The first time I saw them was the day they were aired on ’60 Minutes II,’” he wrote. Mr. Bush also wrote that he felt blindsided by the financial crisis. He wrote that he assumed regulators and rating agencies were doing their jobs.

      the bottom line is that security overseas has ALWAYS been a dicey proposition.

      we’ve had Embassies and other facilities bombed and terrorized on a fairly regular basis.


        …Bush is not campaigning for anything. Its the failed Oval Office liar and cover-up artist that America has to worry about, not anybody else.

        Besides, since he started it all, doesn’t George Washington get to share in any blame?

  6. New FJP Muzlim Brotherhood leader, with 47% of House vote in Egypt’s Parliament, calls for Sharia law.

    Let our incompetent Oval Office Muszlim explain that one to America on Monday night as well. Or will his just lie about it like everything else?

    The entire middle east has blown up right under his butt and the only thing he’s talking about is Big Bird.

    • 22 January 2002 Calcutta, India gunmen attack Consulate 5dead

      14 June 2002 Karachi, Pakistan al-Qaeda truck bomb detonates outside Consulate 12 killed

      12 October 2002 Denpasar, Indonesia Consular Office bombed

      28 February 2003 Islamabad, Pakistan Unknown gunmen attack Embassy 2 killed

      30 June 2004 Tashkent, Uzbekistan Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan suicide bomber attacks Embassy 2 killed

      6 December 2004 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia al-Qaeda gunmen raid diplomatic compound 9 killed

      2 March 2006 Karachi, Pakistan Car bomb explodes outside Embassy unknown 2 killed

      12 September 2006 Demascuc, Syria Gunmen raid US Embassy 4 killed

      12 January 2007 Athens, Greece RPG Fired at Embassy

      18 March 2008 Sana’a, Yemen Mortar attack against US Embassy 2

      9 July 2008 Istanbul, Turkey Armed attack against Consulate 6 killed

      17 September 2008 Sana’a, Yemen Two car bombs outside US embassy in Yemeni capital

      • Bush did not lie about the deaths…he didn’t tell anyone they were caused by a fifth rated comedy film, for the next 14 days! This is the same lying that cost Nixon his job, and it should cost obama his…

        • re: Bush and Obama.

          Obama did not lie either. He said MORE than he probably should have but also way more than Bush ever said about any of the dozen attacks that occurred on his watch.

          Only the right wing wingnuts are saying “lie” but that’s expected given their track record on other issues also…

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