Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Obama's running out of excuses on economy

By William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor
July 11, 2012 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
William Bennett says he's not sure President Obama understands the depth of the economic crisis.
William Bennett says he's not sure President Obama understands the depth of the economic crisis.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • William Bennett: U.S. economy continues to experience poor job growth
  • He says President Obama isn't proposing any bold ideas
  • Obama tends to place blame for economic woes on Bush administration, Bennett says
  • Bennett: Obama's campaign is focusing on worn-out proposals, attacks on Romney

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He was U.S. secretary of education from 1985 to 1988 and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush.

(CNN) -- The White House is running out of time, and ideas, for turning the economy around before the fall elections.

Almost three years into recovery, the U.S. economy added only 80,000 jobs in June, marking its third consecutive month of poor job growth. The Wall Street Journal noted that the United States gained just 225,000 jobs in the past three months combined, making it the weakest quarter of job growth since the labor market began to recover in 2010. The unemployment rate, still 8.2%, has been stuck above 8% for 41 straight months, the longest streak since the Great Depression.

A government report found that 85,000 Americans left the workforce in June to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance program. That means that more workers joined the federal government's disability program in June than got new jobs.

William Bennett
William Bennett

How did the White House respond to the anemic report? "There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making," Alan Krueger, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, said in a written statement.

In other words, any chances for economic recovery before the fall elections look slim. More importantly, there is a profound lack of urgency from the White House for any large scale, serious reforms.

Obama defends tax plan
McConnell: Most tepid recovery

In fact, Krueger went on to claim the economy really isn't as bad as we think. "The economy has now added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs during that period," he said.

The obvious problem here is that Obama has been president for more than 40 months. The White House conveniently blames Republicans for decades of lost jobs, but forgets to mention the United States lost 4.3 million jobs in President Obama's first 13 months in office.

Krueger concluded, "[I]t is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available."

This isn't the first time the White House has used this excuse. In fact, the Romney campaign was quick to put together a list of the 30 times the White House has used this same excuse, dating back to November 2009. Is the White House perhaps telling us something more significant: that we shouldn't read too much into the entire term of Barack Obama's presidency?

In Ohio on Friday, Obama excused the jobs report by again claiming he inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. He added that the jobs report is "a step in the right direction" and that "it's still tough out there."

The president appears intellectually and ideologically spent, and it's not just Republicans saying that. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, wrote recently, "[T]he excuse is wearing thin. It's his economy now, and most voters don't care what he inherited." He added, "[H]e has to show he understands the depth and breadth of this crisis."

It's not so clear the president does. On Monday, he again called to repeal the Bush tax cuts on the highest earners, a contentious partisan issue that the public knows will not be solved before the elections. In his weekly address he continued to push for more construction projects and increased financial aid for college students. Even to Keynesian economists on the left these are hardly bold policies a party can rally behind.

The economy is shaping up to be the most important factor of the 2012 elections, yet the president seems content to rest his re-election chances on worn-out, recycled policy proposals and ad hominem attacks on Mitt Romney. It's hard to see how this is a winning strategy.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of William Bennett.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1852 GMT (0252 HKT)
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2225 GMT (0625 HKT)
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1850 GMT (0250 HKT)
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT