Deroy Murdock - Obama grows economy, but in wrong ways

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Who says President Barack Obama is bad for growth? True, U.S. gross domestic product grew 2 percent in the third quarter. However, comparing data from the time of the president's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, and today's latest figures proves that plenty of things have grown quite robustly during the Obama years.

• When Obama took office, for instance, nearly 43.6 million Americans lived below the poverty line. Today, almost 46.3 million survive beneath that dismal threshold -- up 6.1 percent.

• While Americans have struggled to find work in the private sector, Washington has hung out the "now hiring" sign through these sluggish times. The federal civilian workforce has grown under Obama, from roughly 1.9 million to 2.1 million -- up 6.7 percent.

• Conversely, on Obama's watch, the number of working-age Americans (age 16 and older) who no longer are in the civilian labor force has grown from 80.5 million to 88.7 million -- up 10.2 percent.

• The number of Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance has grown under Obama, from 9.7 million to 10.8 million -- up 11.3 percent.

• Obamacare was supposed to reduce health-insurance costs. After all, this 2,801-page law is known officially as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And yet, average individual medical premiums rose from $4,824 to $5,615 -- up 16.4 percent. Likewise, then-Sen. Obama promised, in a debate with opponent Sen. John McCain, that his reform proposals would lower the typical family's health-insurance policy costs: "We're going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year." Instead, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust, such premiums increased by almost the same amount: $2,370 (from $13,375 to $15,745) -- up 17.7 percent.

• In 2008, candidate Obama complained that President George W. Bush, in eight years in office, had taken out "a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children. We now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back -- $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic." Bush's alleged lack of patriotism notwithstanding, America's national debt as a proportion of GDP has expanded under Obama's watchful eyes, from 74.6 cents on the dollar to 101.8 cents -- up 36.4 percent.

• One of the Great Society's signature welfare programs has done land-office business in the last four years. America's food-stamp population has ballooned with Obama in the Oval Office, from 32.9 million to 46.7 million -- up 41.9 percent.

• Obama has fired up a volcano of red ink. After one month in office, he pledged "to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term. ..." Thus, Obama promised to chop that year's $1.3 trillion deficit to no more than $650 billion. Instead, the deficit stands at $1.1 trillion, a $450 billion overage. Indeed, Obama's four consecutive budget deficits have exceeded $1 trillion -- each. This is a first in U.S. history. In Obama's first 42 months, his $5.25 trillion in deficits have outpaced the $4.18 trillion total for America's first 42 presidents, from George Washington through George Herbert Walker Bush. In these and other ways, Obama's record-shattering performance on borrowing and spending has elevated America's national debt from $10.6 trillion (with a T) to $16.2 trillion -- up 52.4 percent.

• With Obama behind the wheel, regular gasoline has raced from $1.83 per gallon to $3.68 on average -- up more than double or 101.1 percent. (Interestingly, that number almost perfectly parallels the advance in gold prices under Obama, from $853.25 an ounce to $1,706 -- up 99.9 percent.)

Yes, Virginia, President Obama can point to stunning growth. Unfortunately, like someone with an insatiable appetite, it's in all the wrong places.

(Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a Media Fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.)

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