In 2009, President Obama was handed a country in crisis when he took office. On top of the financial collapse, he had the unfunded wars to contend with. In my opinion, he has done an amazing job, despite the least productive and most obstructive Congress since the Civil War.
Republicans, especially Boehner, have been largely successful in blaming the rapidly rising deficit on Obama’s policies. However, multiple non-partisan studies show that most of the debt is a direct result of the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the unfunded Medicare drug benefit (kickback for big pharmaceuticals). While almost $5 trillion has been added to the debt during Obama’s presidency, only about $1.5 trillion is the result of Obama’s policies (and half of that is the from the stimulus).
Government spending routinely increases during an economic downturn, due to the increased need for government assistance, such as unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. With a record 46 million Americans on food stamps, Republicans have dubbed Obama the “food stamp president.” While there are way too many people abusing government assistance, the greater problem is the reason for the need, and how we got here?
The Clinton years were unquestionably a time of progress, especially on the economy. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, we had the longest economic expansion in US history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged. Clinton submitted a budget that would cut the deficit by $500 billion over five years by reducing $255 billion of spending and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of Americans. The results were the exact opposite of what Republicans said would happen
That policy allowed GW Bush to take over with a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, GW and his Republican congress used it to fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Then come the unfunded wars and there goes the surplus. Then finally, just before Obama takes office, 30 years of deregulation by both parties catch up to us, and the economy almost collapses creating the need for additional spending.
While recovery has been slow, we have seen recovery. We have had 31 straight months of job growth in the private sector. The DOW has rebounded, the auto industry has rebounded, and home prices are rebounding. After losing nearly 50,000 factories between 2000-2009, manufacturing is rebounding. Our exports are near record levels , and we are less dependent on foreign oil than we have been in the last 20 years.
Recovery may be slow, but we are headed in the right direction. FORWARD.