In case you’ve missed it, the middle-class is not faring well in this so-called recovery. Catherine Rampell writes in the New York Times:
“For the first time in over a year, median annual income fell by a statistically significant amount from the previous month, according to a report from Sentier Research.
Median annual household income in February 2013 was $51,404, about 1.1 percent (or $590) ower than the January 2013 level of $51,994.
The longer-run trends are even more depressing. February’s median household income was 5.6 percent lower than it was in June 2009, the month the recovery technically begun; 7.3 percent lower than in December 2008, when the most recent recession officially started; and 8.4 percent lower than in January 2000, the earliest date this statistical series became available.”
In short, when it comes to wages things are bad, and they’re getting worse. And if the latest economic growth indicators are any sign, things may not turn around any time soon. Last Friday, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy grew at a sluggish 0.4% rate, far better than the most recent estimates of 0.1% growth, but 14 times slower than the 5.6% growth seen during the Reagan years.
Given the falling wages and continually depressed state of the economy you’d think President Obama would be doing everything he could to protect average Americans. After all, he did refer to himself as a “warrior for the middle class,” who is “happy to fight for the working people” because the only class warfare he’s seen “is the battle that’s been waged against the middle class in this country for a decade.”
Well if there’s a war against the middle class, consider Obama it’s General Patton. Nearly every single one of his priorities, from Obamacare to cap-and-trade to green energy, has the effect of making things more expensive for the middle class through higher health care premiums, higher energy prices or higher taxes. And now, he’s at it again…
The Obama administration is moving forward with tough new Environmental Protection Agency rules, that could, if industry estimates are correct, raise the price of gasoline by nearly 10 cents a gallon. That may not sound like much, but since the average gasoline price currently stands around $3.65 per gallon and is likely to go up throughout the summer, every little bit is important.
The problem isn’t this particular rule, which would reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 (a standard which many companies are moving towards on their own), but the aggregate effect of Obama’s regulatory agenda. As Chris Stirewalt writes for Fox News:
“The frustrations with the president in his first term often stemmed from a sense that he was not focused on the economy. Economic anxiety, growing pessimism and the president’s lowered job approval ratings suggest those frustrations could be re-emerging.
. . . It is therefore not a good time to be talking about intentionally making gasoline more expensive in pursuit of long-term economic goals. The cost may not set in for three years, but the mom who just filled up her worn-out minivan (the average U.S. vehicle is now 11 years old, compared to 7 years in 2007) doesn’t want to hear it.”
Bingo. President Obama promised to pivot (for the umpteenth time) back to a focus on jobs and the economy in this year’s State of the Union. And once again, he’s completely failed. Rather that put the work in to get the economy on track he’s shifted his focus to global warming, gay marriage, amnesty for illegal immigrants and gun control – which may be important issues to his liberal donor base, but are generally well below economic growth and job creation on the wish-list of average Americans.
The problem is Obama has no answers for either of those things that don’t involve spending gobs of taxpayer money, something he has tried and failed at before. But if Obama can’t figure out how to create an environment conducive to job creation at least live by the Hippocratic mantra of ‘do no harm.’ And sadly, these new gasoline regulations don’t meet the test. Not by a longshot.