In search of any plausible, positive legacy item — even if they have to manufacture it — Democrats have advanced the false narrative that President Obama “saved the economy.”
It would be a neat thing if it were true.
Let me parse out the facts of this spin, echoed by the media and academia, as it relates to Obama's self-proclaimed "top" legacy item.
We are supposed to believe that the community organizer, with zero business experience, led us out of a recession and kept us from a “great depression” with his financial savvy.
Two very inconvenient truths refute this.
First, the economy officially came out of recession in June 2009, about the time members of the Obama administration had just completed their confirmations and about had all their boxes unpacked in the West Wing.
Second, they did nothing that the Bush administration had not already set in motion to right the economy. This included, if you believe they all worked (and I do not), TARP, bank and GM bailouts, quantitative easing, federal backstopping of some investment products, and finally some $750-odd billion in “stimulus” money.
In short, our government threw a lot of our money at a financial crisis it helped to create with the Community Reinvestment Act, which decreed that anyone who could fog a mirror or fill out fake bank loan paperwork could get a subprime home loan. Like all economic excesses, the markets corrected it and punished financially the bad actors who participated.
To prolong the middle-class misery, the Obama administration added mountains of job-killing regulations. And if the Community Reinvestment Act had not done enough damage, Obama let lefty Elizabeth Warren start the expensive Consumer Protection Agency. It proclaimed it would force lenders to make more "fair" loans to folks with bad credit and would not allow them to charge interest high enough to offset the risk. Sound familiar? I called the agency the "Department of the Cause of the Next Recession."
Using his infamous motto, “Never Let a Good Crisis go to Waste,” Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his boss set about playing the blame game and using money the federal government was throwing around with those not-so-shovel-ready jobs to shore up their political base. I don't know about you, but I know of no federal project in the area I live in that came from that political boondoggle.
Once passed, Obama had the checkbook of stimulus money, often called the "Porkulus Bill." In the important swing state of Wisconsin, in fact, 80 percent of “stimulus” money from the Obama administration went to public sector unions, the ones whose members had job security and who showed up at his mid-day political rallies in any T-shirt they were told to wear.
Waste was everywhere. The DHS sent $30 million to Medicaid recipients who were dead. These dead people were important to Democrats, as they represented a large voting bloc in the 2016 presidential race.
The key thing to remember is that the USA has a recession every five or six years, and we always recover. In our history, we have survived about 50 recessions, a couple of depressions, and numerous boy bands. Coming out of that recession would have happened no matter who was president. Taking credit for it is like taking credit for sunshine after a two-day rain.
In fact, depending on how you interpret pre-Depression economic numbers, the recession Obama came in on in its last few months was not even in the top 20 in our nation’s history. Peak-to-bottom GDP during this so-called “Great Recession” was only 5.1 percent. We tend to over-dramatize events that happen to us, but the USA has endured about 20 business slowdowns of over 15 percent from the Panic of 1785 until now. Americans were just less dramatic back then. Nowadays we panic when our free Internet is slow.
Obama did nothing but dampen the recovery by raising taxes and adding unnecessary regulations. He used the opportunity to make more people dependent on government welfare. His real “economic legacy” was doubling the U.S. debt from about $10 trillion to $20 trillion — with nothing to show for it.
The other big legacy item Obama claims is “killing Osama bin Laden.” He had, indeed, been president for two years when Navy SEALs found and killed Osama bin Laden.
After years of tracking him down, our government found bin Laden — in his house.
Ron Hart, a libertarian op-ed humorist and award-winning author, is a frequent guest on CNN. Contact him at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.