On Wednesday, while eyes were focused on Mitt Romney’s victory in New Hampshire, Team Obama in Washington was busy conjuring (in the David Copperfield sense of the word). At a carefully contrived press-available White House roundtable, American business leaders assembled to share their convictions about the best way forward for the nation—which all agreed was four more years of the same. Several of the invitees even skewed the narrative by sharing horror stories about Bain Capital, the “vulture capitalist” equity firm that Romney founded. Here’s Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
Later, aboard Air Force One, which was on its way to the first or three high-ticket fundraisers planned for the day, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said:
The first thing, the top priority on the President’s domestic agenda is strengthening the economy and creating jobs here in the United States at this make-or-break moment for the middle class.
It’s an odd place for an incumbent to be. Having presided over the country for the past three years, the president is campaigning on his commitment to grow the economy and jobs? Granted, he squandered much of his first two years passing a wildly unpopular health care reform initiative—while blaming his predecessor for the moribund economic reality—and who can forget “Recovery Summer”?
Actually the Obama campaign is hoping that you, the voter, will forget. They are hoping that you will also ignore the fact that Obama presided overthe largest deficit in American history and nearly doubled the national debt. They want voters to forget about the failed $787 billion stimulus package he pushed through Congress and his promise that it would prevent unemployment from rising above 8%.
What does the administration want you to focus on? Why, class warfare, natch—the haves versus the have-nots, the poor against the rich, the haughty against the humble. And its’ working. The message is getting out there.
A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday shows that the percentage of Americans who believethere are “strong” or “very strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor is up by 19 points since 2009, from 47% to 66%. The group with the largest differential in perception is voters who identify themselves as Independents, 68% of whom believe there are conflicts between the rich and poor—up 23% from 2009.
Meanwhile, there are other numbers circulating that the president—as self-styled protector of the middle class—would rather no one notice. Consider these findings from a report compiled by Sentier Research released last October:
Real median annual household income has fallen significantly more during the economic recovery period from June 2009 to June 2011 than during the recession lasting from December 2007 to June 2009.
During the recession, real median annual household income fell by 3.2 percent, from $55,309 in December 2007 to $53,518 in June 2009. During the economic recovery, real median annual household income fell by an additional 6.7 percent, from $53,518 in June 2009 to $49,909 in June 2011.
There is little that is new in these data. They mimic a trend evident in an Internal Revenue Service analysis of 2009 tax returns, which show that compared with 2008, average income was down $3,516, or 6.1% in real terms. Average income in 2009 was at its lowest level since 1997, while the average tax rate was 11.4%, up from 10.5% in 2007.
Team Obama is counting on the so-called elite media to assist in misdirecting the electorate. Will he get their cooperation this time around? Stay tuned.
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