Many people will take into account the shambles Obama faced on Jan. 20, 2009 when he and Chief Justice John Roberts awkwardly stumbled through the oath of office the first time. The stock market was tumbling badly with the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a nadir of 6547.05, its lowest finish in 12 years.
Unemployment was another story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment during the so-called Great Recession rose to a high of 10 percent in October 2009. Most economists call unemployment figures a lagging economic indicator, meaning that the numbers follow the direction of the economy rather than attempt to predict the course of the economy.
General anger surrounding the Troubled Asset Relief Program passed in the waning days of President George W. Bush’s administration and what has been reported as a lack of accountability for the banks it bailed out led to reluctance on the part of Republicans to support initiatives Obama tried to push through such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare and a federal stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Those partisan divides delayed the implementation of the latter, and Republicans continue to attempt to either repeal or defund the former.
I have a hard time giving full credit or giving full blame to any president for the economy under their watch. Each president has to negotiate with Congress and members of his own administration. And, ultimately, each president also is at least somewhat at the mercy of the American people, who despite one particularly arrogant state senator from North Carolina’s perspective, are the ultimate bosses in this country.
Thus, I consider it somewhat of a misnomer to refer to an Obama economy for this assignment, as a combination of a Congress that has been difficult to work with at best and has been an active roadblock at worst and extremely difficult conditions left over from the previous administration have combined to make progress halting.
For me personally, the economy has gotten much better. Four years ago, I was not only unemployed, but I had no source of income after my former employer contested my unemployment. I eventually won on appeal, but the six month period between leaving my employer and winning the appeal was the darkest period of my life.
I can’t say I’m exactly swimming in money now, but I do have a job that pays well and is fulfilling. I’ve seen friends who have gotten jobs who had been unemployed just before and after I started at my current company in September 2010.
As for where the economy should go in the next 3 1/2 years of Obama’s second term, ensuring that vital programs that serve as a lifeline for people who are struggling to make ends meet as I did in 2009 and slashing corporate welfare are two things that must be done. In light of companies who outsource jobs to other countries, I think a stick needs to be added to the juicy carrot of tax breaks by a combination of eliminating tax breaks for corporations who outsource to penalizing companies who outsource the most.
The effective corporate tax rate also should be increased to 1999 levels by closing tax loopholes and eliminating some tax havens. Taxes on individuals making over $150,000 should also increase by eliminating tax havens.