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March 17, 2016

Picture Imperfect: Economic Graphs Tell Story of Obama's Failed Policies

  Institute for Policy Innovation

DALLAS –If a picture is worth a thousand words, so are economic graphs, which can tell an economic story better than the raw data. The Institute for Policy Innovation's (IPI)  new publication “Trend Tracker: A Picture of the Obama Economy” uses 10 charts to illustrate economic and political trends. There has been widespread concern President Obama's policies have led to years of tepid economic growth that have hurt the middle class; the graphs seem to verify those concerns.

"President Obama claims that by almost every measure the economy has done very well since he took office," said Matthews, "The economic data disagree. Millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans have simply given up looking for work, federal debt is outrageously high, lower-income workers are struggling, entitlement spending has ballooned, and the public has lost confidence in the government and this administration.”

Employment and unemployment rates: While the unemployment rate, currently under 5 percent, has been trending down since 2010, that decline is largely due to the dramatically stunted labor force participation rate, which has fallen at a troubling rate since the 2007-2009 recession. "People aren’t considered unemployed if they have given up looking for work," said Matthews.

Total federal debt: Another graph shows the rapid increase in total federal debt to more than $18 trillion, an increase which began under President Reagan, steadily increased afterward, but then exploded under President Obama. Matthews also notes the upward spike in spending began to level off only once Republicans controlled both houses of Congress.

Income and poverty levels: Median household income is lower today than when President Obama took office. Furthermore, the charts show that the number of Americans living in poverty has also increased. "It is a remarkable outcome, given the president's concerted efforts to transfer wealth from higher-income workers to the poor," said Matthews.

Growth in welfare participation: Obama will leave office with millions more Americans on welfare than when he started, mostly thanks to the president's huge expansion of Medicaid, the worst-of-all government-run health insurance programs. Furthermore, with millions more receiving ACA subsidies, more than half of all Americans now receive government benefits.

Public opinion: "And while economic numbers tell a story, so does public opinion," said Matthews pointing to polls showing trust in government is at an all-time low, and an overwhelming majority think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

"Private sector investment, not government spending, is the catalyst for economic growth," concluded Matthews. "Reverse the president's policies of high tax rates, massive government spending, hyper-regulation, and mandated increases in wages and benefits which led to high levels of business-climate uncertainty, and high rates of economic growth will return—soon."

The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) is an independent, nonprofit public policy research organization based in Dallas. IPI resident scholar Dr. Merrill Matthews is available for interview by contacting Erin Humiston at (972) 874-5139, or Copies of “Trend Tracker: A Picture of the Obama Economy” are available at


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