Obama: "Don't tell me how to mop!"
More than three years ago, at a $50,000-per-couple fundraiser (or $15,000 per person if you skipped the photo-op) at the five-star St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, President Obama was in a feisty and confident mood.
In office less than two years, Obama told the well-heeled gathering of supporters that he had put things back on the road after the Republicans had crashed the economy: “After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can't drive! We don't want to have to go back in the ditch. We just got the car out.”
In fact, the economy for most Americans remained in a ditch that night — and it's still in a ditch, stuck in the slowest recovery since World War II.
American “households still have not come close to regaining the purchasing power they had before the financial crisis began,” explained New York Times reporter Robert Pear, citing household income figures in a new study by two former Census Bureau officials.
Median annual household incomes, adjusted for inflation, declined 4.4 percent from June 2009, when the recession ended, to June 2013, reported Pear. That income drop was on top of the 1.8 percent inflation-adjusted decline in median household income that occurred during the recession, from December 2007 to June 2009.
In other words, median household incomes, inflation-adjusted, dropped by roughly twice as much during Obama's “recovery” than during George W. Bush's recession.
Still, at the St. Regis that evening, with the economy for most Americans stuck firmly in the ditch, Obama continued to toss red meat to a crowd that was simultaneously being served a five-star menu prepared by the French Culinary Institute deans Alain Sailhac, Andre Soltner, Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres: Chilled Maine lobster with avocado and black radish in yuzu dressing, roasted filet mignon with a truffle gift box potato, braised leeks and broccoli in cabernet sauce, and petit fours — plus, for the grand finale, opera cake in a mini-chocolate oven.
“We got our mops and our brooms out here and were cleaning stuff out and they're sitting there saying, ‘Hold the broom better, that's not how you mop,'” continued Obama, mocking those who questioned his stimulus-based approach and redistributionist ideology for economic recovery. “Don't tell me how to mop! Pick up a mop!”
Well, it's more than three years since Obama said those words and here's what he's saying now: “The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999,” he declared last month at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
Specifically, the median household income in the U.S. is currently $2,380 lower than in June 2009, adjusted for inflation, a decline that's hit the lower-income groups the hardest, while the labor force participation rate has dropped to its lowest level since 1978.
And why this decline in earnings, the decline in participation in the labor force? At Knox College, Obama didn't mention how work hours are being cut and expansion plans shelved because of ObamaCare's mandates. Instead, Obama blamed the rich, saying that pay hikes since 2009 for those at the top have been too large.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (email@example.com).