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Obama's two Americas

By PETER MORICI, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   Feb. 13, 2014 at 8:04 AM   |   Comments

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COLLEGE PARK, Md., Feb. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama is dividing the United States into two nations -- one rich, the other increasingly poor and both more likely to elect Democrats.

Americans growing richer support his policies and those growing poorer are increasingly dependent on Democratic politicians for government handouts.

In this century, the economy hasn't performed well, and a jobs shortage has driven down the income of most Americans. Obama's "recovery" has managed only 2.4 percent growth but George W. Bush's expansion scored about the same rate and then collapsed altogether.

Since 2001, when Bush took office, the U.S. economy has created only 4.7 million jobs -- about 30,000 a month and less than one-fourth of those needed to keep pace with population growth. For most, wages, after inflation and higher state taxes, have fallen.

Technology is important. The digital revolution and the shift of news and entertainment to the Internet, cable, ebooks and the like have effectively killed 1 million jobs.

Globalization is a culprit. U.S. industry still boasts many of the best products and most efficient factories but has shed 5 million jobs -- far more than can be justified by rising productivity.

Manufacturing has enjoyed a small renaissance but has recouped only 1-in-9 lost jobs, because Bush and Obama poorly enforced trade agreements that apply to principal competitors. China, Japan and Germany systematically maintain currency advantages and barriers that artificially under price their products and block U.S. exports.

Obama has unilaterally imposed environmental and energy policies that needlessly raise costs and penalize competitiveness.

Increasingly workers are divided into two groups.

Those with diplomas from elite universities rely less on sinking U.S. fortunes and more on global markets for their services, or who can simply manipulate markets. Big wealth is concentrated on Wall Street, the Silicon Valley and Hollywood, and players with monopoly power -- like the NFL and your local cable operator.

Meanwhile, the rest of America goes without a job or languishes with sinking wages waiting on the new elite in restaurants and hotels.

One-in-six men between the ages of 25 and 54 have no job, few prospects for finding one and are increasingly supported by their wives.

Contrary to the cynical alibis of Democratic politicians and feminists, this isn't a choice made possible by greater gender equity. During the Bill Clinton years, when both women and the overall economy made strong gains, the percentage of prime-age men working increased but since has declined precipitously.

Non-elite males don't vote for Democrats and certainly aren't likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, so Obama happily pursues policies that marginalize and make them despondent.

Hillary Clinton talks endlessly about programs to help girls and women but little about the plight of those forgotten men and the boys our schools are failing.

Democrats answer these problems with strategies that motivate the poorly and less prestigiously educated to quit the labor force altogether and rely on government largess, and rewards the wealthy elite who finance their campaigns.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare's perverse incentives will motivate 2.3 million low- and middle-income Americans not to seek employment. One-in -seven adults is covered by food stamps.

Strong enforcement policies and generous tax treatment for intellectual property enhances the wealth of high-profile Democratic contributors in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

The Obama Justice Department, unlike its Clinton- and Reagan-era predecessors, fines banks instead of prosecuting financiers who defraud investors. Then Democratic fundraisers collect commissions from left-leaning bankers and lawyers with seven- and eight-figure incomes.

The Internal Revenue Service stalks conservative political contributors and the Justice Department rifles the phone and email records of reporters. We can't have too many critics stirring up the masses.

The PC police now ensconced at the helm of America's once great universities, limit conservative voices but supply National Public Radio and the New York Times with research that pimps progressive causes.

Wrapping it all together, Democrats win elections cultivating a large contingent of voters whose declining circumstances require substantial government support and finance their campaigns with contributions from elites profiting from globalization. Critics are squelched and the republic declines.

I thank my stars for tenure but feeding my family and writing this column will only get tougher under the heels of a President Hillary Clinton.

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(Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, and is a widely published columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @pmorici1)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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