President Barack Obama speaks on the economy during a campaign event at the Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 14. Thursday night, Obama delivered a major economic address in which he drew stark contrasts between his and Gov. Romney's approaches to fixing the economy.
Jeffrey H. Anderson is a writer for The Weekly Standard and a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.
Today, President Obama said, "It has typically taken countries up to ten years to recover from financial crises of this magnitude." In truth, however, the historical norm has been as follows: the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery.
For example, having inherited the Great Depression when he took office in 1933, FDR presided over what was probably the greatest year of peacetime economic growth in American history in 1936. According to the Obama administration's own Bureau of Economic Analysis (see "Percent change from preceding period"), real (inflation-adjusted) growth in the gross domestic product was a whopping 13.1 percent in 1936. So far in 2012 (according to that same source), it has been 1.9 percent under Obama. In 2011, it was 1.7 percent.
It's true that, in 1938, America plunged into the second deep trough of the Great Depression. But at least under Roosevelt, we experienced a blend of peaks and troughs. Four years under Obama has been like one continuous, uninterrupted walk along the floor of a canyon.
In his speech, Obama also asserted, "Our economy started growing again six months after I took office. And it has continued to grow for the last three years."
Well, according to the federal government's own numbers (published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), the employment rate in July 2009, six months after Obama took office, was 59.3 percent. Since then, the employment rate has actually fallen to 58.6 percent — a tally that, except under Obama, we haven't seen in the past quarter of a century.
In fact, 58.6 percent employment barely exceeds the tally from when President Eisenhower was running for reelection in 1956 — back before millions upon millions of American women entered the workforce.