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Obama Killed the American Dream

Posted on Feb 7, 2014

zeevveez (CC BY 2.0)

By Mike Whitney, CounterPunch

(Page 3)

Obama has done nothing to help working people. He hasn’t lifted a damn finger, which is why “58 percent of Americans disapprove of his stewardship of the economy” (Wall Street Journal/NBC News and Quinnipiac University) It’s also why 78 percent said of respondents in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they think the country is “on the wrong track.” And it’s also why Obama’s personal performance ratings have slipped below those of George Bush in the fifth year of his presidency. Obama has been a disaster and everyone knows it. The impact of his misrule with be felt for years to come. Just take a look at this comment by University of Michigan economist Richard Curtain who explains the dramatic change he’s seen in consumer behavior due to the policies that were put in place following the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). The quote is from an analytic piece titled “Consumer Behavior Adapts to Fundamental Changes in Expectations” Economic Outlook Conference November 21, 2013:

I have been reporting on the economic implications of the latest twists and turns in consumer expectations at this conference for nearly four decades. From the heights of expansions to the depths of recessions, consumers had never deserted their bedrock belief that the economy would produce ever increasing levels of affluence. The Great Recession, unlike any other downturn in the past half century, has not only tarnished the American Dream, but has prompted some fundamental changes in consumer expectations and behavior. (“Consumer Behavior Adapts to Fundamental Changes in Expectations” Economic Outlook Conference November 21, 2013, University of Michigan)

How do you like that? After 40 years of watching this stuff, Curtin says he’s noticed a “fundamental change” in the “bedrock belief that the economy would produce ever increasing levels of affluence.”

This is quite profound, I think, with far-reaching implications for the economy. The pessimism that Obama (and Congress) have generated through their policies have dampened expectations and changed people’s views about the future. Most people no longer expect their wages to increase or their financial situation to improve. For a growing number of people, the American dream is dead. This is already having an effect on personal consumption, household spending and economic growth. It’s also effecting the way people view the government, and what we think of ourselves as a nation. As Curtin notes:


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[The] deeply rooted uncertainty about future economic conditions…has been sustained by the growing recognition that no federal policy has yet emerged that will restore long term economic prosperity anytime soon for the majority of consumers. Optimism about long term job and income prospects are essential for maintaining high levels of economic motivation. Too few consumers have regained that optimism.

Exactly. “No federal policy” has been put in place to “restore long term economic prosperity.”

That’s the whole ball o’ wax, right there. The pols have done nothing.

The pessimism we now see everywhere, can be traced back to government policy. All the blame goes to Obama and Congress. They’re the ones who ended the American Dream. They killed it.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

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