Barack Obama Backpedals From “The Private Sector Is Doing Fine” Comments

Friday is supposed to be a slow news day, especially in or near summer, but President Obama created a major controversy this morning by saying that–in the midst of what most believe is the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression–“The private sector is doing fine.” He has since gone into the damage-control mode.

Considering that America’s real unemployment rate on the ground is probably double the 8.2% “official” government statistics, and that most jobs come from the private sector, the president’s comments appear disconnected. And against the backdrop of Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall, his advocacy for hiring more unionized government workers as an economic initiative also seems fundamentally misplaced.

GOP challenger Mitt Romney, the former business executive and Massachusetts governor, immediately responded:

Is he really that out of touch? I think he’s defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people. Has there ever been an American president who is so far from reality as to believe in an America where 23 million Americans are out of work, or stopped looking for work, or can only find part-time jobs and need full-time jobs, where the economy grew in the first quarter of the year at only 1.9 percent, where the median income in America has dropped by 10% over the last four years, where there have been record number of home foreclosures, for the President of the United States to stand up and say the private sector is doing fine is going to go down in history. It’s an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding by a President who is out of touch, and we’re going to take back this country and get America working again.

It’s also unclear as to the basis for the president’s statement about creating 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months. At the American Enterprise blog, James Pethokoukis wrote in part that…

Private-sector jobs have increased by an average of just 105,000 over the past three months and by just 89,000 a month during the entire Obama Recovery….If the labor force participation rate for May had just stayed where it was in April, the unemployment rate would have risen to 8.4%. As it is, the U.S. economy is suffering is longest sustained bout of 8% unemployment or higher since the Great Depression…

No, Mr. President, the private-sector isn’t doing fine at all. And it certainly isn’t ready to deal with a fiscal cliff of tax hikes or a continued deluge of new regulation.

Later this afternoon, with the controversy swirling, President Obama changed his tune:

It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s why I had a press conference…The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.

Even if you are a big Obama fan, especially given that his resume contains no private enterprise business experience at all, is it possible that when it comes to the economy and job creation, the president just doesn’t get it?

In responding to another question at the press conference, the president denied the White House was leaking sensitive national security information to the media to make him look good in the run-up to the election: