Jonathan Alter has a well publicized piece on Bloomberg asking people opposing Barack Obama why he has been a bad president.
I know, I had to chuckle too.
But I thought I would take a swing at it too…especially in direct response to Alter’s claims regarding the economy.
Obama’s failure economically can be divided into two distinct parts: the stimulus, and everything after the stimulus.
1. The Stimulus Was A Failure
Only an extreme liberal could claim that the stimulus was a glowing success.
Alter points out that as of February 2009, the country was losing around 700,000 jobs a month (Alter says it is 750k, that is incorrect; it is actually closer to 650k). However, the fact that we were losing a lot of jobs is absolutely true. But what is not necessarily true, and is up for serious debate, is whether the Obama stimulus stopped that hemorrhaging. Liberals point out that the loss of jobs steadily decreased after passage of the bill. But remember a key point: not much money was spent during the summer of 2009. In fact, the vast majority of spending was in 2010…after the recession technically ended.
One could argue that simply the emotional effect of the stimulus helped stop job losses. I cannot disprove that, I guess. But it could not have been directly related to spending, because of the simple fact that spending had not occurred.
Additionally, the money which had actually been spent may or may not have stopped those job losses. Alter, and liberals, would like us simply to assume that is the case, that there is a linear relationship between the two. However, if that was the case…why didn’t we see improving jobs numbers as we spent even more money in 2010? Their explanation is simply flawed. Is there argument that the small money that was spent in 2009 provided some stimulative effect, but much larger spending in 2010 had virtually no effect at all?
Alter also brings up, and to his credit partially debunks, a claim by the left that the stimulus was too small. Paul Krugman leads the choir on this claim. Alter points out, correctly, that nothing larger would have passed. But this is actually irrelevant to the discussion. Even a $1 trillion stimulus would not have succeeded. Simply put, the throughput of money through the federal government is much too slow and inefficient to stimulate the economy in such a way. For example, Obama himself now admits that his much ballyhooed ‘shovel ready projects’ was a joke.
Let us give Obama a little leeway. At best, the Obama stimulus did push money into a flailing economy. However, to state that it saved the economy and the nation is a leap of faith that only those that blindly believe in Obama would accept, without more evidence to support their claim. The stimulus probably did do some good, as it blindly injected about $100 Billion into the economy during 2009. However, that certainly did not produce any significant job production, which was the real goal of the stimulus. That goal was stated by Obama himself. So it was a failure, even by the bar set by the President himself; and that doesn’t even bring up the issue of the 8% unemployment rate promised by members of his administration. Additionally, the stimulus was not, in fact, stimulative. Yes, money was spent, and that had some positive effects, but the ultimate goal of any economic stimulus is to have a multiplier effect, in which the spending can be recouped from future growth. By any measure, that did not occur.
So only by the most ridiculous of liberal mantras was the Obama stimulus anything but a failure.
2. Everything after the stimulus
As if the failure of the stimulus was not bad enough, President Obama doubled down on big government. First and foremost was the debate on Obamacare, which lasted for a year and a half. The best liberal spin would argue that they passed a bill that provided virtual universal health care and lowered cost. Any rational evaluation of the bill would argue that they covered most people in America, without truly reforming the system and without bending the cost curve significantly.
Economically speaking, the damaging part was the confusion and uncertainty the bill presented to private businesses. To this day, neither government officials nor anyone else can clearly explain to you the long term effects this bill has on job production. Some independent analyses describe a negative effect on job production. However, one thing is for sure: the passage of Obamacare increased costs and regulations for anyone hiring people going forward. A brilliantly stupid thing to do during a recession, no?
Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the regulatory mess this administration has wrought upon the nation. Whether it be the EPA, the NLRB, etc., the Obama Administration has made it more difficult and costly to hire and keep people employed in the private sector. Furthermore, the few industries that have steadily increased employment during this recession, led by energy and fossil fuel development, have been attacked on a virtually daily basis as being evil and illegitimate way to create jobs.
Democrats frankly have been completely missing in action regarding jobs since the passage of the stimulus in February of 2009. Can anyone name a single jobs policy that they have passed since that time? Obama will magically present a jobs bill sometime in early September, which will get no where because it will simply increase spending without really producing any jobs. For most of that time, Democrats focused on Obamacare, which if anything destroyed new job production.
Jonathan Alter can argue that Obama came into a terrible economic environment, and confronted huge headwinds. I will stipulate to that. But the job of the President is to focus on the major problems of the country, and attempt to improve them. Not only did Obama not help alleviate those problems…he actually aggravated the situation. Not only did he not provide solutions, he was missing in action for much of his first term on the preeminent issue of the day, namely unemployment and economic growth. Simply put, in every manner of evaluation, Obama has failed this country.
So yes, Mr. Alter, I think Mr. Obama has been a bad President, and I think I and others can more than prove that to be the case.