June 12, 2012

"The private sector is doing fine." With these words, President Obama opened the flood doors to criticism from all ranks, Democrats included.

At last Friday Morning's White House Press Conference, the President began by answering a question about Republicans claims that Obama was blaming the Europeans for the failures of his policies.

Here is the President's response: "The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.

"The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in...."

By 1 PM that afternoon, Obama was walking back his comments saying: "It's absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”

The President has had a rough couple of weeks. Don't get me wrong. I'm not seeking sympathy for him. He has flatly refused to move even the slightest to the middle on all matters economic and ignores any suggestion for compromise with the GOP on any issue dealing with domestic policy.

But let's consider...

Two weeks ago the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics dropped a bomb on the President's campaign when it released data showing only 66,000 jobs had been created in May - far below estimates - and that the top-line unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.2 percent.

Then came this past Friday's press conference when he made the economic gaffe of all gaffes and trying to explain that the rise in unemployment is largely due to budget difficulties at the state and local government level because mayors and governors are not getting the "kind of support they need from the federal government."

The federal government needs to send money to states and cities so those governments can hire more people. People who may do important work, but create nothing.

A few short hours after Obama had essentially proclaimed the return of prosperity for private industry, was running a piece by Chris Burritt headlined, "CEOs Losing Optimism as Job Slowdown Imperils U.S. Growth."

To make his point, Burritt wrote:

"Albertsons grocery store chain said this week it will cut as many as 2,500 jobs. Hewlett-Packard has announced the biggest round of job cuts out of any U.S. company this year, at 27,000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

Even Obama's favorite CEO, Dan Akerson (who runs our national car company, GM) said "When people have confidence that they'll have a job and that their homes are safe and whatnot, they tend to spend more and that tends to drive demand."

AT&T chairman Randall Stevenson stated that the real driver is businesses "hiring and putting people on payroll," Stephenson said in a May 10 interview. "We're still not seeing that."

Which leads us to ask the question: What world was Obama describing?

On Sunday, David Axelrod who is the senior advisor to the Obama campaign was sent out to try and scrape up the mess. In more than two minutes of bobbing and weaving on Candy Crowley's CNN Sunday show he couldn't get himself to way whether or not the private sector is "doing fine."

Remember, this "woe to state and local workers" business came a few days after public service unions were handed their lunch pails by the voters in Wisconsin who handily beat back a recall challenge to Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Walker had the - dare we say it - audacity to tell public workers they were making more than their private sector neighbors, they had better benefits and more job security, and that wasn't fair to the folks who were paying the bills.

The unions set off on a year-long tantrum to toss Walker out of the statehouse, but … they lost.

Obama's "private sector is doing fine" gaffe was not the only problem he had last week. Bill Clinton - who is supposed to be helping Obama - said that those "Bush-era" tax cuts should be extended for all Americans - even the wealthiest, assumedly because the private sector is not doing fine.

According to the "The former president said on Tuesday he supports the extension of his successor's tax cuts-a major break from President Obama's position. In an interview with CNBC, Clinton said temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts is "probably the best thing to do right now" to jump-start the economy."

Clinton, after suffering that moment of clarity in thinking, walked back his comment on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer saying he was mistaken in when the tax increase would hit. He thought they needed to be acted upon before the election, instead of before the end of the year.

It is not clear to me why that makes any difference as to the tax rates' effect on stimulating or further stalling the economy, but there you are.

I wince every time he hear him talk about the millions of jobs he has created. Over 70 percent of the jobs created (and there weren't 4.3 million) were in the public sector or government jobs. And over 75 percent of those went to women and minorities.

As for the remaining 30 percent of jobs created - in the private sector, we'll let's just say a majority of those are minimum wage positions and that goes a long way toward prosperity. Right!

"The private sector is doing fine" might not be the defining gaffe in this campaign, but it does show that as far as Obama is concerned, he either doesn't know doodley-squat about the economy, or he is too aloof to care.

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