Unpacking the Unemployment Lie

So there is a meme floating about on the Internet that no President since WWII has ever been re-elected with unemployment above 8%. Let’s debunk this falsehood. The underlying message here is that President Obama cannot be re-elected as long as unemployment remains above 8% based on previous examples.

There have only been two Presidents where unemployment has exceeded 8% for any length of time. One was Gerald Ford. Ford was never actually elected so you can’t really make the re-election argument in that case. The other was Ronald Reagan where unemployment remained above 8% throughout the majority of his first term. Despite that fact, he was re-elected to a second term in 1984 (I should note that unemployment had dropped below 8% on November 1984 when the Presidential election was decided so technically Reagan was re-elected while unemployment was at 7.2%).

But let’s get to the bottom of this meme. The intent is to provide a false scenario that uses the current unemployment figures to discredit the President. The assumption is that Presidents cannot be re-elected if unemployment is above 8%. It’s a means to make President Obama responsible for the current employment shortfall similar to making him responsible for the price of gas at the pump. You might as well blame the President for your bad hair day. Non Sequitur.

But let’s dig deeper into this complaint. Unemployment was rampant during the great depression; sometimes as high as 20%. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was re-elected three times (this was before term limits) so the argument that unemployment equals ineluctability is false. The fact that the current meme lists its starting point as post WWII is quite telling in that regard. Stating that unemployment above 8% is an historic requirement for re-election is a lie designed to make you believe that Barack Obama cannot be re-elected because he is responsible for the high unemployment rate when, in fact, it is the previous administration that caused the economic disaster.

Unemployment rates at 8% or greater do not mean President Obama won’t be re-elected. But massaging these numbers to predict an outcome is just wishful thinking on the part of Republicans who have no chance of defeating President Obama in 2012.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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3 Responses to Unpacking the Unemployment Lie

  1. travlinman says:

    Reagen was reelected with unemployment over 8% only because it was over 11% when he took office. So the unemployment rate had dropped 3%.. Unemployment has increased under Obama by 1%.. Big difference

  2. Mr. Universe says:

    On January 20th, 1981 when Reagan took office the unemployment rate was 7.5%. It rose to 10.8% two years into his first term. That’s an increase of 3.3%; the worst increase of any post-depression President EVER.

    By comparison when Obama took office the unemployment rate was already at 8% and steadily rising after the 2008 market crash (which was on Bush’s watch and a direct result of his mismanegement). It peaked at 10.1% in his first year. That’s a 2.1% increase in the same period as Reagan. In fact, it dropped a whole point during the same period. So yeah, big difference.

    You’re welcome to your opinions on Obama’s dealing with the already shattered economy, but no one: I repeat, no one is allowed to misrepresent the facts here because I will call you out every single time. No matter how badly you wish for Obama’s performance to be the worst and no matter how many times the misrepresentation is repeated, it is still a lie.

  3. Germain says:

    In the 1980’s, the inflationary policy of the Democratic Party lead to interest rates running between 12 and 18%. This happens every time Democrats have control of all branches of government. They spend, tax and print money without reservation. They have the effect on the economy of gremlins on steroids. The so-called Democrats have had control of the House and the Senate since 2007 and never passed a budget. They have been spending money like they can just fart it out of their asses, kind of like the way you talk. Go ahead. Call me a liar. I won’t be back to hear you.

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