Friday, 7 November 2014

Why Clinton's syndrome is not working for Obama

The success of President Clinton in beating incumbent President George H W Bush ( Senior Bush the 41st President) in the 1992 Presidential elections is linked to his 'it's the economy stupid' syndrome.

The concept is that if a President manages to get the economy working the right way than he is likely to earn favour from the electorate and gain their vote.  On the contrary if a President leads during a time of economic downturn  he faces a nearly impossible task of sustaining his popularity and ultimately conserve the democratic mandate.

Why is this not working for Obama whose Democratic Party performed so badly in the Mid-Term US Congress elections this week so that the Republicans now have control of both Houses of Congress, the House of Representative where they increased their majority and the Senate where they overturned a Democratic majority?

And all this in a background where President Obama holds strong credentials for an almost miraculous economic turnaround.    When Obama was sworn in as President in January of 2009 unemployment in the US exceeded 10% and was increasing with a momentum of  700,000 per month.    The financial markets were in turmoil, the US auto industry was on its knees and the stock markets had lost their bottom.

Since then US economy has recovered, exceeded its pre-crisis levels, and is cruising towards its long term growth trends,   Employment is increasing at around 220,000 per month, unemployment is below 6% and the Stock Markets are beating all time highs except for Nasdaq which is at its highest since the artificial peak of March 2000.

There are two possible explanations:

Either "It's the economy stupid" syndrome does not work anymore as society has evolved

Or       The economy is not doing as well as the data suggests.

My opinion is that it is none and both of the above.

The economy is doing well but the growth is benefiting only the rich and the banks.   The workers and other fixed income middle income sectors of societies have not seen any growth in their earnings or any increase in their standard of living.   The middle class people are angry for Obama as they judge him that he bent on his knees to get the economy going again but failed to take the necessary fiscal measures to spread the economic benefits across society.  Little do they care that Obama really had no choice but to fix the banks and stimulate private sector investment as without that the US would still be where Europe still is - deep in a never ending recession.

Little did voters care that Obama has been the most obstructed President in recent history where Congress blocked practically everything he proposed after passing Obamcare before the House of Representative Democratic majority was lost in 2010.

Result of this week's mid-terms was that voter turnout was just 33% and two thirds of the electorate stayed away from the polling booths as they felt that Obama had not made a difference in their lives.   They felt that the 'Yes we can' battlecry of 2008 was not for them but for those that had caused the crisis in the first instance.   So whilst the Republicans went out to vote the Democrats mostly stayed home.

Obama paid 'The price of inequality' which has increased in the US under his leadership and there is not much he can do about it in the last 2 years of his tenure when the Republicans would only agree on business friendly measures not on a liberal agenda to spread the wealth down to the base.

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