Obama's Jobless "Claims"

by Gerri Willis

Everybody's got a complaint when it comes to the Republican field for the Presidential nomination.

Critics say Ron Paul is too soft to lead the country's foreign policy. A turn-the-other-cheek policy in international relations, they say, would devastate our standing in the world.

Others say Rick Santorum is too angry.

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich critics say he's too much of a Washington insider to be very convincing as the leader of an insurrection that would remake tax policy and refashion entitlement programs.

Mitt Romney is a gaffe a minute. And, a rich elite that can't relate to the rest of the country.

But what about the other side?

What if we evaluated President Obama as Candidate Obama?

Would he be the best choice to lead his party and this country?

Well, let's see, he doesn't have a record of creating jobs.

Of course, he cheered the latest jobs report saying unemployment rate fell to 8.3% - the lowest of his Presidency.

But he won't tell you over a million Americans fell out of the labor market, and the percent of people in the workforce is now at the lowest point in decades.

The biggest decline on record came under Obama.

He won't tell you around 13 million Americans are officially out of work.

And, almost 2 million fewer people are employed since the President signed his signature economic stimulus law, and declared 2010 to be the "summer of recovery."

When it comes to gaffes, well the President has made a few of them.

Today in Virginia he said the economy is "growing stronger" and the "recovery is speeding up"!

Speeding up? Is he joking?

Last year's economic growth was a paltry 1.7%. That's almost half the rate of the previous year.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke just yesterday warned about continued weakness in the economy, and said the outlook for growth is "uncertain" at best.

And the Congressional Budget Office this week said GDP will only do slightly better this year and will slow even more next and unemployment will stay above seven percent through 2015.

As for foreign policy, the President's style is to apologize for being American, and he has weakened America's standing in the world, not strengthened it.

In the years since his famous 'Cairo speech' in the summer of 2009, approval ratings for the U.S. and for the President himself have plunged with some polls giving him an even worse approval rating than President Bush!

Obama has criticized our allies like Israel, and emboldened our enemies like Iran.

So, while Republicans have at least a few decent choices for President, that's a heck of lot better than the Democrats' who have just one awful one.

Are You Better Off Today than 4 Years Ago?

by Gerri Willis

June 2009.

That is the date economists say the recession officially ended. That was two and a half years ago. The President maintains we're in a recovery, and he's taking credit for it.

“And we began to see signs of economic recovery here at home, even as too many Americans are still struggling to get ahead,” said President Obama. “There's no doubt that 2012 will bring even more change.”

Here's the thing: there have been some good headlines over the past year or so, but a few bits of good news does not a recovery make. Because I bet if someone asked you at home if you're better off now than you were four years ago - I don't think you'd be as cheery.

Let let the numbers speak for themselves. Last week, we told you the economy grew 2.7% in the final quarter of 2011. That's the largest quarterly increase in a year and a half. Plus, the U.S. economy has experienced ten straight quarters of positive economic growth.

However!!! Even with the strong finish, the economy expanded just 1.7% for the whole year - roughly half the growth in 2010. And growth is expected to slow in the first three months of this year. The folks who track recessions for a living -- the NABE -- forecast growth of just 2.5 percent this year. That's punk compared to most recoveries when the economy jumps 5 or 6 or 7 percent.

The unemployment rate tells a similar story. Here's the good news. The rate is now down to 8.5% from more than 9% over the summer.

However!!! The unemployment rate has been above 8% for the last 35 months, and is still considerably higher than the 7.8% when Obama took office.

Full employment is around 5 to 6 percent, but we've been down so long, 8.5% looks like up to us. If you don't have a job, chances are you're not spending much, including buying a house, which is a main reason why housing remains so weak.

For all of 2011, existing home sales actually rose by nearly two percent to more than four million homes. That's pretty good. However, back in 2005, more than seven million homes were sold. And, even though home prices are falling, one report today has prices falling another 3.75% in December. People aren't willing to buy. Perhaps because they're spending so much on gas!

The good news: gas prices have declined to $3.43 a gallon from nearly four dollars last spring.

However!!! That $3.43 is considerably higher than how much it cost for a gallon of gas back in January of 2009. And, if you're lucky enough to have a job, you're probably not so happy about your pay. The median earnings over the last decade haven't really changed much. Adjusted for inflation, the average worker made about $39,125 back in 2000. Four years ago, you'd have made $39,224. Now, it’s $39,312. Not too impressive.

A lost decade. A decade we can't afford to repeat. When thinking about who to vote for president this election cycle, ask yourself if you're better off now than four years ago - I bet I know the answer!

Clues Your Candidate Will Deliver in 2012

by Gerri Willis

Sometimes the proof is in the pudding. Even when it comes to politics.

Maybe especially when it comes to politics.

My big issue for the Republican candidates for president -- just how careful will you be with tax payer dollars? Are you a spender or a defender? Everyone seems to be talking a good game right now, but the pedal will hit the metal when we actually elect a candidate, put them in office and the federal wallet gets pulled out and opened up.

And, there are clues from last night's Iowa caucus that can give us a sense of how far these candidates can stretch a dollar -- specifically their own dollar.

Take a look at the charts below. What we've measured is just how much each candidate spent in campaign contributions for each vote they got. Oh, and by the way we are counting just their personal war chests not the Super Pac money:

Always better to look at the evidence than listen to the promises when it comes to politicians – And we'll want to know everything we can about how these candidates spend because our federal government closed out 2011 with a record $15.2 trillion in debt. Even worse, our debt to GDP ratio now above 100 percent.

In other words, we're broke and we need someone who understands the value of a dollar and help us get rid of our debt.

Unfortunately, the people we have in Washington right now might not be the right people because they are kicking the can down the road.

Any day now, you can expect the President to ask Congress to lift the debt ceiling because we are about to run out of money to pay our debts -- bills already due and owing. And all of Washington is just hoping you won't notice. No doubt though Congress and the Senate will face raising the ceiling to an unprecedented $16.394 trillion.. And you and I will be the people who pay all that money back.

So watch with me in the coming weeks and months as we watch how these candidates spend their money...

The No.1 Issue Facing Election 2012

by Gerri Willis

You can't say the election is next year anymore.

We have turned the page on the calendar and suddenly now it is right in front of us.

People who want to sound "with it" talk about the power of the Superpacs or debate the merits of negative advertising.

In truth, neither of those things will matter as much as the economy.

This year it is the economy, stupid, words first uttered by James Carville on behalf of Bill Clinton two decades ago.

Over the weekend, the papers were full of upbeat forecasts for the economy and the stock market.

Some analysts projecting stocks to jump 10 percent, the housing market to recover. But before you get too excited, remember those are exactly the same forecasts we got this time last year.

And in the end, as you know the S&P 500 barely treaded water and the economy struggled to stay in positive territory --GDP expanded less than two percent in the second and third quarters.

Looking out at the Republican's primary schedule tells an interesting tale:

So as the political calendar unfolds this month and next, Republicans will venture ever deeper into territory where the economy is still painfully anemic.

What will matter even more than the actual numbers is how they are perceived.

By most. any measure, an eight point six percent national unemployment rate, is a disaster, but it sure is better than 10.1 percent -- its peak in October 2009 -- a fact the president is sure to flaunt.

What's more, the President can count on a critical battleground -- the Midwest -- to continue experiencing recovery.

That puts the pressure on Republicans to make the case: they are the better managers of the economy -- and don't think for a minute voters will automatically concede that ground to Republicans.

They'll have to prove it -- "41" -- George Bush wasn't able to.

But this generation has to -- its time for republicans to get back to their most inclusive and appealing message -- expanding economic opportunities for everyone.

That should be the first, second and final item of the GOP nominees' to do list.

It's what voters want and expect.

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