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Congressman Tom Cole's Weekly Column - Obama Touts Recovery that Doesn't Exist


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President Obama is well-practiced at taking credit for economic recovery and job creation. Whether actual progress or improvements exist or not, he claims time and time again that the country is in better shape because of his political initiatives. However, due to the Administration's flawed policies, closer analysis of the facts reveals that our economy and job market are lackluster at best. In fact, our country is currently suffering from the weakest economic recovery since World War II.

This slowed recovery is due in large part to the president's unworkable, counterproductive policies. Rather than address the actual problem of our nation's out-of-control spending, he continues to propose tax increases and the expansion of free-spending government programs like Obamacare.

When in doubt, Obama falls back on phony claims of job creation and attempts to ensure the American people that he wants to create an environment that fosters job growth. He claims success through a declining unemployment rate--one that may seem promising but is actually flawed in its measurement. In July, the civilian unemployment rate was reported as 7.4 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is the percentage of workers and job seekers without work. However, this measurement is deceiving because it doesn't account for those who are underemployed, working part-time or have given up looking for work altogether. Instead, the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) provides a better diagnosis of our economic state, as it measures the labor force as a percent of the population. Currently at 63.4 percent, the LFPR has hovered around its lowest level reported since May 1979 (63.3 percent) much of this year.

Not only are more people unemployed, they are staying unemployed longer. Since Obama entered the White House, the average time an individual remains unemployed has shot up from 19.8 weeks to 36.6 weeks. If individuals are still jobless at 27 weeks, they are considered to be long-term unemployed; this number has unfortunately grown from 2.7 million in January 2009 to 4.2 million last month.

Additionally, there's the expense of the president's healthcare law and the harmful effects that it continues to have on hardworking taxpayers and our economic recovery. When the president promoted his plan for affordable care, he promised a system that would be favorable for job creators, boost the job market and create at least four million new jobs. Instead, Obamacare has led to greater costs for employers and taxpayers. Until the recent White House announcement to delay the employer mandate for a year, businesses would have been required to accept the financial burden of providing expensive health plans to their employees. While businesses have been awarded an extra year to comply, this doesn't eliminate uncertainty surrounding the law for businesses who want to expand and hire. It's likely that, until the law is fully implemented or repealed, businesses will be forced to resort to hiring freezes and layoffs.

Despite the delay of the employer mandate, individuals are still required to purchase expensive insurance from a flawed, unworkable government system. This requirement comes in addition to the first set of tax increases that kicked in this year just to begin funding the system. Former National Democratic Committee Chairman, and physician, Howard Dean recently expressed his doubts in the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and its ability to set coverage rates accurately. He noted in the Wall Street Journal, "Rate setting--the essential mechanism of the IPAB--has a 40-year track record of failure." Without question, it is unwise and irresponsible for the Administration to force taxpayers to fund a system whose core component doesn't work and adds even more to our debt.

Despite the sad reality that our economy is broken and our national debt is well over $17 trillion, President Obama continues to try and make a case to the American people that we're on the road to recovery. History, and the facts, suggest otherwise.

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