Earth To President Obama, Adding Speed To Our Death Spiral Isn’t Helpful

Happy Labor Day, Mr. President!

Now can I give you some Main Street advice?  Get yourself some new advisors.  Maybe some earthbound ones.  Because, after listening to your speech on the economy from the White House Rose Garden last Friday, I, along with most of Main Street America, got the distinct impression you live on another planet.

“We are confident we are moving in the right direction.”

–President Obama, September 3, 2010

Seriously?  Have you seen the polls?  Wrong direction is so universally felt it bridges the partisan divide.

Sixty-four percent (64%) of all voters say the country is heading down the wrong track.

–“Right Direction or Wrong Track” (9/01/10), Rasmussen Report

And as for the economy…

Eighty-one percent of the public rates the county’s economic conditions as poor… Forty-four percent of people questioned describe economic conditions as very poor…

“CNN Poll: Number of people who say economy in very poor shape on rise”, PoliticalTicker

So where did your “right direction” “confident we” come from, Mr. President?  Is the “we” the CEOs and upper management few whose salaries have barely felt the pinch of this recession?

American workers, by contrast, are taking home less in real weekly wages [in 2009] than they took home in the 1970s. Back in those years, precious few top executives made over 30 times what their workers made. In 2009, we calculate in the 17th annual Executive Excess, CEOs of major U.S. corporations averaged 263 times the average compensation of American workers.

–Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, Kevin Shih, “Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession”, Institute for Policy Studies

Maybe the “confident” are members of Congress whose salary (not including the $1.5 million per member in discretionary office accounts, perks, travel expenses and health benefits) actually increased by $8,800 (more than 5 percent) between 2007 and 2009.  While at the same time :

The per capita personal income in the Unites States shrunk by more than half a percentage point, or $254, from 2007 through 2009, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    • 2009: Per capita personal income, $39,138 – Congress pay, $174,000
    • 2008: Per capita personal income, $40,166 – Congress pay, $169,300
    • 2007: Per capita personal income, $39,392 – Congress pay, $165,200

–Tom Murse, Even in Recession, Congress Pay

And could those “moving in the right direction” be the wealthy — many of whom are in Congress:

The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009, about $85.1 million more than 12 months earlier, according to The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms. Twenty-seven Democrats along with 23 Republicans make up the 50 richest in Congress; 30 House members and 20 senators are on the list.

–Kevin Bogardus and Barbra Kim, “Wealthy lawmakers increased their riches as U.S. economy sputtered in ’09”, The Hill

One thing the Main Street “we” are confident about, Mr. President, is that you are not listening to us.  Because if you had, you never would have said:

“The key point I’m making right now is that the economy is moving in a positive direction,”

— President Obama, September 3, 2010

Optimism and persistence are powerful tools Mr. President, but they need to be grounded in reality.
The only thing moving in a positive direction these days are corporate profits.  And profits are no longer attached to Main Street jobs (via Kevin Drum at Truthout).

Once again proving the old fallacy that a rising tide lifts all boats. So tell me Mr. President, what is “right” about an economy that continues to bleed jobs?

22 million Americans are now jobless. Add in those who are working part-time who’d rather be working full-time, and we’re up to 25 million.

–Robert Reich, “The Great Jobs Depression Worsens, and the Choice Ahead Grows Starker”,Robert Reich Blog

And to even get unemployment back to our pre-recession 5% will require:

…the economy to generate about 17 million jobs — or about 285,000 a month for five straight years — according to Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

–Alana Semuels, “For many unemployed workers, jobs aren’t coming back”Los Angeles Times

Where is the “positive” when the three fastest growing occupations barely pays above minimum wage?  And when the fastest growing occupations won’t keep a family of three above the poverty line?

…wage of $8.28 an hour would earn an annual salary of $16,560, based on a typical 2,000-hour work year: That salary is just below the 2009 poverty threshold for a family of three.

–Kai Filion & Andrea Orr, “Jobs … but low pay”, Economic Policy Institute

And who can be among the “confident we” when:

Bankruptcy filings rose 20 percent in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010… According to statistics released Tuesday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, a total of 1,572,597 bankruptcy cases were filed in federal courts in that period….Non-business filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2010 totaled 1,512,989…Business filings totaled 59,608.

“Bankruptcy Filings Jump 20 percent”, WebCPA

Surely you don’t think home-owners who are losing their homes are “moving in the right direction,” Mr. President.  And they are not the few:

More than 2.3 million homes have been repossessed by lenders since the recession began in December 2007…

–Alan Zibel, “One in 10 with a mortgage face foreclosure”, dallasnews.comem

Nearly 528,000 homes were repossessed by lenders in the first six months of the year, putting 2010 on pace to eclipse the more than 900,000 homes repossessed in 2009,… In all about 1.7 million homeowners received foreclosure notices from January to June, which is about one in every 78 US homes

“US Could See Record 1M Foreclosures in 2010”,

Mr. President, our economy is not a bad rumor that needs to be squashed. Nor a mental health issue we just need to get over.  We are not a nation of hypochondriacs or fear mongers or socialists.  The American people are not looking for freebies or hand outs.


“We’re moving in the right direction…We just need to speed it up.”

President Obama, September 3, 2010

Earth to President Obama:  Main Street America is in a death spiral.  Adding speed to our downward movement isn’t helpful.



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