Obama tilts playing field to One Percent
1:00 am detroitnews.com
Barack Obama has won two presidential elections promising that he had the best policies to make the U.S. economy work — not just for the wealthy, but also for the middle class and poor. So how is it that his presidency has seen unprecedented erosion in both American household income and the gap between rich and poor?
Consider the president’s visit with San Francisco billionaire hedge-fund manager and green activist Thomas Steyer this April.
Steyer is a staunch opponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline which, despite its promises of 20,000 jobs, he considers to be threat to global climate change. Thanks in part to swanky fundraisers in Steyer’s estate overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, One Percent greens have gotten their way at the expense of 99 Percenters from union workers to Michigan valve makers.
When government remakes industries like energy and health care and concentrates more power in Washington, it tilts the playing field to the rich and well-connected who, like Tom Steyer, who can afford to lobby for their special interest. Welcome to the Obameconomy.
The yawning gap between rich and poor is also the result of Treasury/Federal Reserve policies during the 2008 financial panic that stabilized Wall Street and have restored stock prices to record highs. Since the rich tend to hold their wealth in assets, those polices have benefited them. The middle-class and poor, by contrast, gain their wealth from jobs — which have suffered from an activist White House agenda that has favored Washington regulators over job creators.
According to Sentier Research, median real household income is 5 percent lower than when the Great Recession ended in June 2009. The decline has actually been steeper during the Obama recovery than in the Bush recession. Meanwhile, reports the Associated Press, “the gap in employment rates between America’s highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago.”
“The folks in the middle and at the bottom haven’t seen wage or income growth,” President Obama told ABC this month as if he were an innocent bystander to the U.S. economy.
But his initiatives have been a key driver of income inequality.
A Gallup poll of 600 small companies under $20 million this summer found 41 percent have frozen hiring due to the president’s signature achievement, Obamacare. But Big Hospital and Big Pharma, with their armies of government lobbyists, have thrived with hospitals due to reap $2 billion in Michigan alone from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
In the energy sector, thousands of coal miners have lost their jobs as the Obama administration has waged a War on Carbon. In favoring green alternatives, the administration has showered wealthy pals like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Fisker Automotive investors with hundreds of millions in taxpayer loans. And for the well-to-do buyers of their Obama-preferred, $100,000 chariots? They get a further $7,500 taxpayer subsidy.
The ripples from hedge-fund billionaire Steyer’s anti-Keystone energy crusade are being felt in Michigan, where unemployment has risen to 9 percent. “Our valves are used extensively in the facilities on both ends of the pipelines,” said Keith Stelter, president of Delta Industrial Valves in Niles, in Congressional testimony this spring. “If the Keystone XL pipeline can be built, I would see my company probably doubling in size over the next 10 years.”
“Too many hard-working Americans are out of work, and the Keystone XL Pipeline will change that dire situation for thousands of them,” testified David Milano of Laborers’ International Union of North America. But White House cronies have stifled development.
Indeed, the unions, minorities, and youth that swept Obama to power that have suffered most from his anti-growth agenda. AP reports that black workers are the most underemployed in the U.S., and unemployment among youth under 25 is 15.6 percent.
Maybe Thomas Steyer could host a fundraiser for them at his San Francisco estate?