Obama’s legacy feels the Bern

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a labor union conference, July 28, Washington. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a labor union conference, July 28, Washington. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)

The biggest early surprise in the 2016 race is Donald Trump. The second-biggest is Bernie Sanders.

Though Trump leads the GOP field while Sanders remains a distant second among Democrats, each captures roughly 1 in 5 of his party’s voters in national polls. Sanders, the self-described socialist from Vermont, is doing well enough to put pressure on Hillary Clinton to mimic his populist tone.

If Clinton is looking for someone to blame, she should look at Barack Obama.

That’s because Sanders’ ascent is in part an admission from the left that the Obama years have been a slow-rolling disaster for low- and middle-income Americans.

Obama recently got a “mostly false” rating from Politifact for claiming the economy is “by every metric” better now than when he took office. Nope: Inflation-adjusted wages are down, poverty is up, a smaller share of Americans is working (including those in their prime working years of 25 to 54), and a larger share is on food stamps.

Americans who do work are more likely to be poor. Just this past week, the federal government reported 7 percent of workers in 2013 were considered “working poor,” the fifth year in a row at or above that threshold. That line wasn’t crossed a single time between 1986 (the earliest reported year) and 2008.

Obama has harped on income inequality more than any president in decades, but he has presided over a widening of the gap. Those at the top have built wealth faster of late than those in the middle and bottom — in large part because, six years after the Great Recession officially ended, the average American is still less likely than before the downturn to own stocks, a retirement account or a home.

Enter Bernie Sanders, whose rhetoric implies the shortcoming of Obamanomics — but whose plans would merely double down on it.

Obamacare made millions more Americans dependent on government for health insurance; Sanders would put all of us on the dole with a single-payer system. Obama raised taxes on “the rich” to their highest level since before the Reagan tax reforms of the 1980s; Sanders would go further to an undefined “fair share.” Obama has proposed a nearly 40 percent increase in the national minimum wage; Sanders would more than double it.

Rather than more government intervention, what Americans need is an economy that creates jobs on a scale large enough to make up for seven years of stagnation.

Take the minimum wage. Not only would doubling it harm job growth. History suggests the minimum wage isn’t as low as you might think.

Remember that point about the “working poor” making up a larger share of the labor force now than in the previous two-plus decades? Surely that’s because the minimum wage isn’t keeping up, right?

Wrong. Since at least 1986, a full-time minimum-wage earner has made enough money to keep himself out of poverty. But in only four years since then has that person made enough money to keep two people out of poverty. Three of them were recent: 2009, 2010 and 2011 (the other was 1997). Seen that way, the minimum wage has held up pretty well.

Times are indeed tough for too many Americans. But poverty is too high not because the minimum wage is too low, but because too many people aren’t earning a wage at all. Fixing that requires choosing a different path, not running farther down the current one.

Reader Comments 0

134 comments
Luigi Loves Equality
Luigi Loves Equality

Let's be honest here. Universal single-payer healthcare systems have better outcomes than the American healthcare system - at significantly less per capita. Obamacare is only one small step in the correct direction - but it's as much as we could get over Repugnant Republican opposition.


As for jobs, President Obama wanted a jobs program to rebuild infrastructure which we desperately needed, but it was blocked by Repugnant Republicans.


If you object to "Repugnant" as an adjective to describe Republicans, I will point out that if you apply the Southern Policy Law Center's hate group criteria to the Republican Party Platform, the Republican Party is a hate group.


The Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage our country by kowtowing to a tiny international cartel of ultra-wealthy who have no loyalty to the United States or any other country. Their only loyalty is to their own wealth.


http://ourfuture.org/20140923/the-cost-to-our-economy-from-republican-obstruction-and-sabotage

HDB0329
HDB0329

....interesting in that Forbes states that the economy does better with a DEMOCRAT in the White House.....and how many have forgotten what happened when the nation was BUSHwhacked for a second time: the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression and TWO unpaid wars!!


.....as for me, I couldn't find a job under BUSH for TWO YEARS after 9/11....and that paradigm always occurred whenever a REPUBLICAN was in the White House.....but I was able to find a job within 90 DAYS after a DEMOCRAT (including Obama!!) got into the White House!!!


Economists stated that it would take TEN YEARS to recover from the nation's getting BUSHwhacked......I think we on the road to recovery.....


anthony patterson
anthony patterson

Kyle can't talk about Republican candidates or there plans to create jobs or anything else, because these plans don't exist. Keep being a sore loser, you got the perfect flag for it.

JeffersonianAlliance
JeffersonianAlliance

I gave this article a lot of publicity before finishing it! 


I didn't read the last two paragraphs. The author should also get a 'mostly false' rating. Single Payer lowered costs in other countries, and an increase in minimum wage cannot be objectively described as having a harmful effect on the economy. It would have largely positive effects, from most studies I have read.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

I suggest reading articles about the jobless future due to automation, computing power, and worker productivity. There is no longer enough work required for workers to gain a reasonable share of profits produced by worker productivity. It will only get worse from here. 


"By now you've heard the cookie joke. You know: a CEO, a tea party member, and a union worker are all sitting at a table when a plate with a dozen cookies arrives. Before anyone else can make a move, the CEO reaches out to rake in eleven of the cookies. When the other two look at him in surprise, the CEO locks eyes with the tea party member. "You better watch him," the executive says with a nod toward the union worker. "He wants a piece of your cookie."


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/06/953112/-Why-it-s-okay-to-hate-union-workers

mackdenny
mackdenny

Sanders, like most socialists, doesn't believe in equality of opportunity, but in equality of outcome.

Heather Suhrie
Heather Suhrie

It's not a different path, we've tried it before. FDR, took his top tax rates from 25% to 63% and saved capitalism(Wall Street Crash, The Great Depression) Eisenhower built the great striving American middle class. He did it by building our (now crumbling) infrastructure and expanding social programs, which turned the 1950's folks into a bunch of hands out freeloaders? Not! His top tax rate was 91% for incomes (not assets) above 3.5 million. Why? Today 99% of income goes to 1% of the population. Which leaves us with a dwindling 1% to pay for our wars, infrastructure, and government. The top pay 24.2% but most of the income is stuffed away in tax havens. We have 3 wars we didn't pay for and owe 5TRILLION in interest to the big banks.(they don't want a balanced budget) I'll take Republican Eisenhower's way. The fiscally conservative way. He payed for his war. We lowered taxes  on the wealthiest.

Juanx
Juanx

Am I the only American who remembers 2008 ending and 2009 beginning? There was a recession that we are still trying to over come. There are many office complexes in metro Atlanta whose doors still remain closed. The NO! Republican Party has not helped in this recovery process. Under these circumstance the President and the Democrats who held the USA together have done a great job. And, I believe the historians will agree.

bu2
bu2

@Juanx 

Obviously you don't remember previous recessions.  This has been the weakest and slowest recovery in my lifetime, by FAR.

gmaye
gmaye

People like Kyle can not with a straight face say things are worst when this great President took over, yes we are in debt but look at the hole GW Bush put us in.  When this great President took over you were given codes levels at the airport,.


How soon we forget about being safe for the last 6 years, after 3500 Americans died 911, 4500 American troops dead, really Kyle, this country was in the toliet . 

ATLAquarius
ATLAquarius

In a vacuum this is a good argument.....in reality in a general election which likely won't feature Sanders we will see....I just don't think that running on no third term of Obama is a winning strategy seeing as how 47% of Americans are already lost to the Republican party if you believe certain rhetoric....is this "morning in America under Reagan"? Perhaps not but one this is not late 2008 and two I don't believe any candidate is advertising such a boost of the nation's GDP as experienced in Reagan's or Clinton's for that matter term.....in fact one struggles to find any real, halfway ready for congressional dissection, plan to boost income levels or lower the "real" unemployment....this phenomenon where productivity has not been rewarded by boosts in pay is unprecedented....it will be interesting to see what actual policy prescriptions come about from these candidates

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@ATLAquarius

Government doesn't boost income levels, not in any sustainable way.

Demand for labor does.

Wages aren't rising as they should and income inequality is worsening because Obama's taxing and mandating and regulating and bashing are moving companies and jobs offshore and reducing demand for labor.


ATLAquarius
ATLAquarius

@LilBarryBailout @ATLAquarius So you're basically going to tell me that we can return to the days when one person could find a manufacturing job to support the entire household? Where we can deregulate to a point when food service workers will be hired as full time employees based on health insurance rules? Sorry there is too much profit in what companies are doing to put the cork back in the bottle....

Chris Baker
Chris Baker

Sanders ideas are the only ones on the table that haven't been previously tested and shown to concentrate wealth at the top. Americans from every political persuasion are tired of working our butts off with nothing to show for it except billionaires being even richer. Every other candidate from either party is selling the same reheated leftovers from the previous years of oligarchy. Only Sanders refuses the corporate money, only Sanders offers any practical alternatives that mean something to most Americans. Hungry people don't stay hungry for long, especially not when we can see the PILES of food behind Rich Uncle Pennybags.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

 Obamacare made millions more Americans dependent on government for health insurance; Sanders would put all of us on the dole with a single-payer system. Obama raised taxes on “the rich” to their highest level since before the Reagan tax reforms of the 1980s; Sanders would go further to an undefined “fair share.” Obama has proposed a nearly 40 percent increase in the national minimum wage; Sanders would more than double it.

You mean, like a civilized country would have done as a matter of course? Works for me. (I know, big surprise.)

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@Hedley_Lammar @LilBarryBailout @Visual_Cortex

Yes, it failed for specific reasons.  Three, exactly:

1)  Vermont would have to raise its income tax rate by 10 percentage points

2)  Vermonters didn't want to pay for it.

3)  Vermont can't print it's own money to make up the difference between tax revenue and spending.

M H Smith
M H Smith

Oh, and Obama better watch those Koch brothers, now they want to end "corporate welfare."

PappyHappy
PappyHappy


Cut Obama some slack

·      Hamas is attacking. 

·       Israel is defending. 

·       Russia is invading. 

·       The Middle East is smoldering. 

·       Boko Haram is massacring. 

·       ISIS is marching. 

·       Iran and North Korea are threatening.

·       American cities are crumbling. 

·       Our southern border is dissolving.

·       Our debt is skyrocketing ($18 Trillion + and rising)

·       Obamacare is falling apart (insurance rates are increasing with Insurance companies consolidating). 

·       The VA is showing us how Obamacare will wind up.

*Turkey is harassing our sailors

*Trust in the Obama Administration is dropping daily due to persistent lawlessness, and one scandal after another, with Obama learning of the scandals via reading a newspaper.

*Russia is now patrolling the Gulf of Mexico with bombers and ships.

*China picked Obama’s pockets on an Obama’ climate deal

·       The Internal Revenue Service (IRS,) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Justice Dept. are violating laws. 

·       Americans are hurting. 

·       Our enemies are laughing.

*CHINA IS HACKING.

·       And Obama is fundraising between golf games.

BUT:  Please take it easy on Obama.  Remember:  it is his first job!

GMFA
GMFA

@PappyHappy His first job, twice. He was elected over a Pub who keeps his money in the Cayman Islands. And now the Pubs have another circus going on.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@PappyHappy


Yes - it's his first real job - unless you count his eleven years working as an associate in his law firm an becoming a partner.


Is this trope that he's never worked before just a bizarre ignorance of facts that can be learned on the first page of a search online, or it just a steadfast adherence to pathetic racist stereotyping?


JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Thanks for the responses Kyle. I don't think it should be easy for Hillary or who ever else might get either nomination.

Regarding the debate, I am just hoping it's better than 2012.

straker
straker

Kyle - "doesn't mean they know something true"


It just may be that FINALLY the people are catching on to the fact that predatory Capitalism is really not  good for 99% of us Americans.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@straker

Please, please, please, Luddite Democrats...run against Uber and other free-market innovations where people are free to participate (or not) on either side of the transaction.

Capitalism is just another word for "freedom".  Democrats fear it.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@straker Is it not wonderful that someone who lives in the country with the highest living standards in the world, frets that we aren't more like those other countries.

Redfin
Redfin

@straker By your deduction we need to copy the govt of Greece or better still get Vlad Putin over here and whip us into a shining communist example........just like Russia.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@LilBarryBailout @Hedley_Lammar @straker And yet people continue to use it and to sign up as drivers.  That has to be frustrating for the control-freak left.


I dont. Way too dangerous. Who knows what drunken idiot is going to show up ?


As soon as someone ( especially someone high profile ) is killed by an uber driver everyone will be up in arms to have it regulated and made safer. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield  The newest incident happened in Houston, when an Uber driver allegedly took a drunk female passenger to his home and raped her.

The driver, Duncan Eric Burton, 57, is an ex-con. He'd spent 14 years in federal prison on drug charges and was released in 2012, according to the Houston Chronicle. And he had cleared Uber's background check.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield For its part, Uber says fingerprint checks are time-consuming and delay the process of getting new drivers onboard. But Houston's Cottingham said the process typically takes just three to five days and the wait is worth it to let passengers know they're safe in Uber cars.


Clearly 3 to 5 days is far to long to ask someone to wait to become a super duper background checked uber driver.

Heather Suhrie
Heather Suhrie

@Redfin @straker No. I'd prefer a shining (economic) copy of America, In the 1950's under a Republican president, Eisenhower. Upper tax rate, 91% on incomes over 3.5 million. Why? 99% of all new income goes to 1% who stuff it into tax havens. What can go wrong? And all those socialistic entitlement programs? Gave rise to the Golden Age of the American economy. Eisenhower paid for his war, we haven't paid for the last 3. We lowered tax rates for the wealthiest (on the stuff they couldn't hide) to 24.2% We are now have 5TRILLION in interest going to the big banks. They have a great deal to gain by screaming socialist. 

GMFA
GMFA

Wait a minute, let me Google the Republicans Job Bills over the last 5 years. Let me see, oh yea, they shut down the Government costing us millions. They are under-studies of Grover, raise no taxes and pass no bills to help the middle class, but help the rich instead. Obama's Legacy will be fine, especially put in the context of dealing  with fools like Cruz, Demint, and Boehner, who can't even seem to get his own Party in order.

Redfin
Redfin

@GMFA If you want to know who shut down the govt..........Look up Harry Reid

ArmourAll
ArmourAll

@GMFA  When are you taking your comedy act on the road? 

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

I'm hoping Biden runs just so he can be a cheerleader for Obama's administrations.

I'm wondering what the odds are on the Republican candidates presenting any new ideas on Thursday night.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JeffreyEav Btw, Biden in the race as a cheerleader for the Obama administration would put Hillary in a real pickle. I know the Clintons are expert triangulators, but how to position oneself vis-a-vis Bill Clinton's tenure, Obama, and the Warren wing of the party? She has to do that to some degree now, but Biden in that role would only make it harder on her.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JeffreyEav I'd say the odds are pretty long. One's opinion of the field aside, the format -- short answers from a crowded stage -- doesn't lend itself to presenting new ideas. Maybe a reference to an idea that can be found in more detail on a website, but that's probably the upper limit.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @JeffreyEav  I'm hoping Biden runs just so he can be a cheerleader for Obama's administrations.


One thing we know for sure


At the 2016 DNC Obama will be front and center. 


Dubya will be nowhere to be found at the 2016 RNC. That alone should be very telling. 

Redfin
Redfin

@Hedley_Lammar @RafeHollister @Kyle_Wingfield @JeffreyEav  People are sick and tired of the way this country is run under this current administration.  H Clinton is anointed "flag bearer" of the Dem party,  but low and behold B Sanders(a proclaimed socialist or maybe even a dyed-in-the-wool communist)  is eating into her popularity nos.............says volumes for the present day Dem party. Even the DNC chairmanship is occupied by an "airhead" (Debbie W Shultz)   I predicted the landslide defeat for Dems in 2012....I predict that trend will continue in 2016.