WASHINGTON—Jobless claims are the lowest since the 1960s, unemployment is the lowest since 2000, wage growth is the highest it’s been since 2008—and Vice President Mike Pence says there’s a message in that for former President Barack Obama.
“It didn’t just happen,” Pence said in Washington on Sept. 22. “It’s because the American people made a choice in 2016 to change the direction of this country.
“The truth is the last administration stifled our economy under an avalanche of red tape. … The last president almost, [he] virtually declared war on American energy.”
Pence, speaking at the 2018 Values Voter Summit dedicated to advancing religious liberty and limited government, said he was incensed by remarks that Obama made at a political rally in Pennsylvania a day earlier about the economy.
Obama, who inherited the 2008 financial crisis, touted the longest streak of job creation on record, 20 million more people signed up for health insurance since 2010, and higher wages than when he took office as proof that the growth in the economy under President Donald Trump isn’t that incredible.
“So when you hear folks taking credit for this economic miracle, it’s like, ‘Hold up,'” he said. “They act like it just started.”
While all the economic gains he cited are true, it’s not the whole picture.
While Obama is correct that more people more people have health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government’s expenditures on the program—which come out of taxpayer pockets—have grown dramatically. For example, when Obama took office in 2009, the federal government spent $250.9 billion on Medicaid. Last year, the federal government spent about $430 billion on the program, an increase of 71 percent.
Obamacare also has pushed up insurance premiums, mostly for those who don’t get subsidies from the government, and that has made insurance premiums and deductibles almost double since 2010, when Obamacare was implemented.
Both the employment rate and job growth increased steadily while Obama was in office, but the administration would have had to stifle the economy to keep those rates at the crisis levels they were at in 2009.
Pence cited the GOP tax cuts and getting rid of the individual mandate for health insurance as factors that have increased gross domestic product (GDP) from less than 2 percent growth when Trump took office to over 4 percent now.
“President Obama, you presided over the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression,” Pence said. “This economy isn’t booming because of your policies, it’s booming because we’ve been rolling back the failed policies of your administration since Day One.”
But more important than the economy, he assured the crowd that the Trump administration stands for the values that the country was founded upon: respect for the sanctity of life, support for the rule of law, freedom of religion, and a free market.
“The truth is faith, family, hard work, and patriotism are the glue that has bound the fabric of our nation for generations. We’re not a people bound together by geography or ethnicity. We’re a people bound together by a common commitment to freedom and a belief that we the people are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
He warned voters that if the conservatives lose their majority in Congress, the progress that that administration has made so far and the further progress that could be made would likely be lost.
Complacency, he warned, is the greatest threat to keeping a Republican majority in the House and Senate, and the right must match and surpass the energy and enthusiasm of the left if it’s going to win.
“You know, history records that the first midterm election for the party that holds the White House is challenging, and that’s been true for our party in all but two elections over the last 100 years,” he said.
“That’s the conventional wisdom. But I think we all know what President Donald Trump thinks of conventional wisdom.”