The unemployment rate has been lowered mostly by folks quitting the job market altogether. If the adult labor force participation rate was the same today as when the recovery began, unemployment would stand at about 9.7%. Adding in folks relegated to part time work, but who would prefer full time positions, the jobless rate jumps to 14.7%.

The difference is plain. Reagan acted to unleash the creative energies of the private sector, while Obama has moved in the opposite direction.

Moreover, most of Obama's successful efforts have been focused to reward his 2008 supporters -- unionized industries in the Midwest such as autos and overly generous bank bailouts -- and swing states.

Consequently, he has likely moved into his column conservative Iowa -- normally a republican state in close national contests -- with generous subsidies for wind farms and ethanol -- and erected a firewall against a Romney electoral college majority in Ohio -- a state where one of every eight workers benefits from generous subsidies to General Motors ( GM) and Chrysler.

America is all about private enterprise, and without leadership that believes in the primacy of the private sector, it can't succeed. Targeted federal giveaways may be good Electoral College politics but won't win Obama a place in history for the quality and success of his economic stewardship.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.

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