CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "The Worst Year of the Obama Presidency;" "Obama's Katrina and Iraq War Rolled into One;" "Too Cold a Personality for a President," "Sinking in the Popularity," You would think the country is in really bad shape, and it's the president's doing.
Of course, if you listen to Fox News or right wing radio talk show hosts, these headlines would be called liberal media spin. Right wing spin: "Obama Sold us into the Slavery of Socialism;" "Weakening our Nation and Destroying the Military;" "A Tyrant Ignoring the Constitution;" "A Pattern of Lying and Deception."
In fact, it bears remembering that five years ago only the extraordinary measures that Obama and a briefly Democratic Congress took in 2009 to stimulate the economy and save the auto industry kept us out of a Depression. But it seems increasingly clear this "jobless recovery" was caused by the fact that we stopped stimulus spending too soon. Nevertheless, the economy has finally shaken off the lethargy it was in. Despite the government shutdown, sequestration, and despite 3 years of GOP austerity policies that limited stimulus spending to the Federal Reserve's efforts to pump money into the economy, we have seen sustained growth reaching 4% of GDP and shrinking unemployment.
Where might we be if we'd had a second stimulus bill to fix our crumbling infrastructure instead of fretting about debt and deficits and facing Republican refusal to raise new revenue even by closing tax loopholes? A conservative estimate is a million jobs and nearly a trillion dollars a year since 2011. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the sequestration alone is responsible for the loss or failure to create over a million jobs and almost a full percentage point of growth. That's why it's worth at least a sigh of relief that the recent budget compromise has delayed some of sequestration's effects and increased the budget for two years. The so-called Party of Fiscal Responsibility has cost us a fortune.
We shouldn't be gloomy; we should be angry. When even the Pope comes out and says trickle-down economics doesn't work, isn't it time for Republicans to acknowledge they've been standing in the way of growth? In recent elections, they incessantly claimed businesses would not hire because of the "uncertainty" of whether taxes would rise on top earners as they finally did at the beginning of 2013. And look at how well the economy has done since then! There was something to their argument, only it was the Republicans causing the uncertainty, and the increasing inequality of income in our country.
"If you like your health care plan you can keep it." He said it, many times. Was he lying, misled, or stupid? None of the above. He is, after all, a politician. In this case, as politicians do (and most religious leaders), he made promises he could not keep. Mark my words, something like the following will be reported in a tell-all book some day.
Obama: Maybe I should say, "If you like your health plan, almost all of you can keep your health plan!"
Campaign advisor: Not strong enough. Drop the almost all.
Obama: I don't know, we put in the grandfather clause to let insurance companies keep people insured if their plans were in effect since before the law was passed, but some folks have bought inadequate policies since then.