What Has Obama Ever Done For Us?
ith apologies to Monty Python, I’d like for you to try a thought experiment. Imagine being a fly on the wall at a gathering of Tea Party intelligentsia. Now, imagine leaving that empty room and attaching yourself to a wall in an adjacent quarters that is playing host to a gathering of hysterical, conspiracy obsessed Tea Party organizers planning their next rabble rousing rally. Amid the fiery rhetoric and lunatic invective, the leader stands up and demands “What has Obama ever done for America?”
Then, unexpectedly, at the back of the room a solitary individual who didn’t get the memo about our president being the Antichrist, timidly responds by producing the following three charts.
This first is a chart of the stock market as it performed in the last two years of the Bush Administration and the first two years of the Obama administration. Surely right-wing bloviator Lawwy Kudlow had it right when he opined:
I have long believed that stock markets are the best barometer of the health, wealth and security of a nation. And today’s stock market message is an unmistakable vote of confidence for the president.
Of course, Kudlow wrote those words when Bush was in office, but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, we say. If stock market performance is an indicator of the rightness of your guy’s policies, surely the same can be said for our guy.
Here’s the next chart:
This is a chart of job losses under Bush (in red) and under Obama (in blue). If contra Larry Kudlow the performance of the stock market isn’t your favorite metric of the effectiveness of a president’s economic stewardship, you can always choose to go by employment figures instead. And once again, the differences in performance between Bush and Obama could not be more stark. The Bush administration put a knife into the gut of the American worker and twisted it. Barack Obama has spent the last two years easing that knife out. Some have complained that he might have pulled the knife out faster. Of course, that ignores the nearly unanimous, un-constructive and hypocritical obstructionism coming from the political opposition doing their best to force the knife in deeper. In any case, recent employment figures do seem to show that the hapless victim of Bush administration policies (and by this I mean you and me) is showing clear and unmistakable signs of recovery.
But what about the national debt? Didn’t Barack Obama triple the budget deficit the moment he stepped into office? Well, no actually. You see, the president doesn’t pass a budget the moment he steps into office. Rather, he inherits his predecessor’s budget. And as Cato Institute (yes that Cato Institute) senior fellow Daniel Mitchell points out, attempts by conservative critics to blame Obama for the 2009 budget are simply lies. The reality of the budget picture is that Obama inherited a massive budget deficit from George W. Bush. It was a deficit engendered in large part to save America from the economic precipice we were looking into in the last months of the Bush presidency. So here’s the last chart:
Now, I don’t for a second believe that these charts would convince the Tebaggers that Barack Obama is actually rescuing America from the fiscal train wreck of the Bush administration. But to honest observers who aren’t a pack of conspiracy obsessed, racist, hate-filled, reality denying nutjobs, the numbers should paint a much sunnier picture than we’re getting from the mainstream media (not to mention Fox News) of what this President has done to help mend our broken economy.