While the President was handed a lousy hand when he took office, with 818,000 jobs lost in Bush's final month in office, is it realistic to keep blaming George Bush?
President Obama, during his "Hope and Change" campaign in 2008, promised to fix the economy and cut the deficit in half in his first term. The Wall Street Journal published an article on Jan. 9, 2009, titled Carnage continues: 524,000 jobs lost in December. According to the article, the unemployment rate rose to 7.2%, the highest in 16 years. The unemployment rate at the end of July stood at 8.3%, compared to 9.1% the year before.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was to address this problem by creating "shovel-ready" jobs and easing the stress on the labor market. The stated purpose of the ARRA was:
The Act specifies that 37% of the package is to be devoted to tax incentives equaling $288 billion and $144 billion or 18% is allocated to state and local fiscal relief (more than 90% of the state aid is going to Medicaid and education). The remaining 45% or $357 billion is allocated to federal spending programs such as transportation, communication, waste water and sewer infrastructure improvements; energy efficiency upgrades in private and federal buildings; extension of federal unemployment benefits; and scientific research programs. Wikepedia
While the ARRA did have an impact on the U.S. economy, there is an argument to be made that much of the money was wasted in special interest funding. Both Republican and Democrats can be blamed for this.
Unfortunately, the deficit has grown to $1.1 trillion for the fiscal year 2012/13.
While Obama inherited a bad deck of cards, his predecessoralso inherited a recession. This fact seldom appears in talking points, which tout the great economy handed Bush. Should Bush have blamed Bill Clinton?
Soon after Bush took office, the U.S. economy officially fell into a recession — which lasted from March 2001 to November 2001, as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research. There is always a lag in job growth after a recession officially ends, and the low point for private-sector employment was not reached until July 2003, when it fell to 108,232,000. By October 2005, which would be 27 months after the job slump ended, the U.S. had 112,491,000 jobs — an increase of 4,259,000 jobs. That’s nearly identical to Obama’s best 27 months after the recession Factcheck.org
9/11 also adversely affected the U.S. economy. Many will remember the market crash shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center towers.
Promises vs. Facts
Obama came into office with high expectations and with plenty of promises. The problem is that none of his predictions have been met. The stimulus (ARRA) was to retain the unemployment rate below 8%. The president promised that he would cut the deficit in half and rebuild the economy and provide more jobs.
As mentioned previously the projected deficit is $1.1 trillion for next year, the unemployment rate remains high and economic growth has slipped to 1.8%.
The president's latest budget was defeated in the Democratic Senate by 97-0. The president touts a vision in his latest AP interview at Camp David.
Obama also offered a glimpse of how he would govern in a second term of divided government. He said he would be willing to make a range of compromises with Republicans, confident there are some who would rather make deals than remain part of “one of the least productive Congresses in American history.” National Post
Unfortunately, the president has not demonstrated his willingness to work with Congress. Compromise means coming half way on issues and not an attitude of "My Way or the Highway." We should also remember that the president owned the House, the Senate and the White House for the first 24 months in office. Some of those hard decisions should have been made then, but weren't.
One can demonize the Republicans for not wanting to tax the rich, but the "Bush tax cuts" could have been canceled easily during the first two years of the president's term. Why weren't they?
As the DNC and RNC conventions take place, there will be lots of rhetoric on both sides, in some cases with phoney issues. In the end it will come down to the economy, the president's record and which of the two contenders can articulate a better vision for going forward.
The media will do it's part, either good or bad, as will the myriad of pundits and talk show hosts. In 2012 the resources to check facts on line are limitless. Don't get fooled by rhetoric and make sure you stay informed.
After the economy, health care, national security and foreign policy should be important factors in determining your vote.
One thing is clear, Obama owns this economy and the days of blaming Bush are running out.
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