A look at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and unemployment numbers that paints a different picture than the one the President is touting
Obama’s Half-Truths and Big Lies
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Joseph Goebbels was of the opinion that it was easier to get people to believe a big lie than a small one. President Obama seems to agree, but not completely. He thinks that the way to get people to believe in big lies is not to have them stand alone but rather to wrap them in half-truths.
These half-truths are in the form of official federal government statistics that are accurate but misleading because they are incomplete. A compliant media obediently report these statistics as the whole truth. For example, the President has used the half-truth that the US has only 2 percent of the world’s oil to help sell the lie that he has done everything he can to expand domestic oil production and that he is, as one PBS News contributor put it, “the drill, baby drill president.”
The President also has been relying on other half-truths such as the core Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the official unemployment rate to convince the American electorate that his economic policies are bearing fruit. While he acknowledges there is still progress to be made, he argues that given the mess he inherited from the Bush administration no one could have done better. All he needs is 4 more years to get the nation back on track.
One of the things the President has going for him is the mainstream media’s reluctance to look beyond the official numbers, even when the facts are there in black and white. Let’s start by looking at the CPI. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes an all items CPI and a core CPI that excludes food and energy. The mainstream media invariably only report the core CPI number.
In the three years since President Obama took office, while the core CPI has only increased 5 percent, energy prices have increased 35.6 percent and gasoline prices 88.2 percent. On January 26, 2009, six days after President Obama took the oath of office, Consumer Reports noted that the national retail average price for a gallon of gasoline was $1.84, and that this was $1.14 less per gallon than the January 2008 price. During the eight years of the Bush administration gas prices increased 26 percent from the $1.46 a gallon price in January 2001. During Obama’s three years in office, the American people have seen the price of a gallon of gasoline skyrocket. The Associated Press reported that on March 16, 2012, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.83, and in six states and the District of Columbia the price was over $4 a gallon.
During this same period, prices for food have jumped 5.8 percent. So while the President tries to sell the lie that the modest increase in the core CPI is an indication that his economic policies are working and things are looking up, Americans are hurting every time they go to a supermarket or a gas station.
Another lie the President tells is that the decrease in the official unemployment figure shows that the American economy, thanks to his policies, is not just recovering, it is picking up steam. In February 2012, the official unemployment rate was 8.3 percent, an improvement of 0.7 percent over the 9 percent unemployment rate in February 2011. The official number of unemployed was 12.8 million. However, when you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics alternative measures of labor underutilization, you see a much less rosy picture. The unemployment rate is 14.9 percent when you include those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want a job. When the discouraged job seekers are added to the official number of unemployed, the number of unemployed increases from 12.8 million to 23 million. When President Obama took office, there were 13.7 million Americans out of work. During his three years in office the number of unemployed has increased by 67.9%.
Barack Obama knows that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. He understands that he only needs to fool enough to be reelected. With the help of the media, the President hopes to do that by convincing a majority of American voters to believe his lies. John Adams wrote that “facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts.” President Obama is betting that the American people will not learn the facts.