On anniversary of recession, Obama set to herald economic record
September 15th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
11 months ago

On anniversary of recession, Obama set to herald economic record

Washington (CNN) – Five years after the economic collapse that defined the first 100 days of President Barack Obama's presidency, the White House is taking credit for "strengthening" the economy, with the president preparing to embark on a week of events aimed at making that argument.

Gene Sperling, a senior economic adviser to the president, said Sunday that while the economic decisions the Obama administration made in 2009 were controversial – citing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the auto bailout and revamped banking regulations – all have outperformed their original forecasts.

"These very difficult, bold and politically controversial measures that the president took in 2009 have uniformly performed better than almost anyone could have projected," Sperling, the outgoing director of the National Economic Council, said on a call with reporters.

After Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2008, the U.S. economy went into freefall in the final days of the George W. Bush presidency. After Obama took office in January 2009, he took controversial and expensive steps to stabilize the U.S. economy.

In a flurry of economic policy, the Obama administration pumped $250 billion into banks both large and small to shore up their capital, known at the TARP program, and pledged $85 billion to rescue the insurance firm AIG from collapse.

Economic security and the Obama administration's decisions appear to be the White House's focus in the coming week.

On Monday, the president will use a Rose Garden speech to herald his economic decisions. To hammer home the point, a White House spokesperson said Sunday that Obama will be flanked by people who represent different sectors of the economy aided by Obama's decisions.

Obama will sit down for an interview with the Spanish-language news channel Telemundo on Tuesday, and on Wednesday and Thursday he will deliver remarks at two different economic meetings.

On Friday, the president will take his message to the road, traveling to a Ford production plant in Kansas City, Missouri, where he is expected to tout the 2009 auto bailout and his next economic steps.

A White House report released Sunday, which Sperling previewed on the call, credited Obama with making these tough decisions, stating that "America has fought our way back" largely because of these steps.

"Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth," reads the 49-page report.

Expectedly, not everyone agrees that Obama's economic decisions have strengthened the economy.

Republicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner, have long criticized Obama for "mediocre" job growth and growing the national debt.

"The sooner President Obama starts working with both parties to … solve Washington's spending problem, the stronger our economy will be for all Americans," Boehner said earlier this month.

But it isn't just Republicans who doubt the stability of the U.S. economy.

Six in 10 Americans told Gallup in August that economic conditions are getting worse, and earlier this month, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 95% of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of earners.

In short, the study found, the slow economic growth the United States has experienced since the economic crash of 2008 has primarily favored top earners, while incomes for the vast majority of people have stagnated.

While Sperling acknowledged on the call that the United States has not fully recovered from the economic downturn, Obama said in an interview with ABC on Sunday that the rich have fared far better than the poor during his time in the White House.

"The folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years," the president said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Sperling argued on Sunday that things would have been worse if auto companies had not been bailed out and the president's scheduled visit to the Ford plant signals that the White House plans to tout its accomplishments with the auto industry.

In 2008 and 2009, General Motors, Chrysler Group and Ally Financial, the finance firm then known as GMAC, received $79.7 billion. While some of that assistance came in the form of loans, most of it was given to the companies in return for their stock. Stock sales, dividend and loan payments together have returned only $52.7 billion to the government, leaving a $27 billion deficit.

Sperling argued, however, that they were a net positive.

"Autos is striking," Sperling said on Sunday. "The president made the right and very politically difficult call. I don't know that anybody at the time would have predicted that by the first quarter of 2011, the big three would not only have survived by have been profitable for the first time since 2004."

Obama's handling of the auto bailout was controversial at the time and became a flashpoint point in the 2012 election.

Some Republicans – including the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney – argued that the White House should have allowed the auto companies to go into a structured bankruptcy and criticized Obama's decision to use government money to prop up the industry.


Filed under: Economy • President Obama
soundoff (296 Responses)
  1. What's in that tea anyway?

    Good Mr. President....No matter who the GOP/Tea Brainless try to disperage the accomplishments of your administration, even these angry folks can't change the fact that this was the worst economic crash since the great depression and like former Pres. Clinton said "...no president, of either party could have gotten us out of this mess in four years" ...and we are still not out of the woods yet, but at least on our way ...No Thanks to the Party of No ideas, No cooperation.

    September 16, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. What's in that tea anyway?

    Apologies, meant to say "Good Job Mr. President" and "No matter how....

    September 16, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Data Driven

    "Six in 10 Americans told Gallup in August that economic conditions are getting worse, and earlier this month, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 95% of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of earners"

    I recommend everyone look up that report online. If Americans feel the economy is getting worse, well, it is for them, but not for the extremely rich. This is the result of over 30 years of conservative economic policies - we are now, quite literally, living in another Gilded Age. Not since 1927 has there been such a wide gap between rich and poor in this country. Mission Accomplished, conservatives.

    I like Obama; he's a prudent centrist on most economic issues and quite liberal on some social issues. His stimulus plan may have worked better if the GOP hadn't turned half of it into tax cuts. But two things are going to have to happen for us to stop the clock from moving backwards and get us out of this new Hooverian era: 1) get rid of the "tea party" idiots in Congress, and 2) elect an honest-to-goodness economic liberal as President.

    September 16, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Ford was given government guarantees while they restructured; sold off Volvo, jaguar, range rover, etc.

    September 16, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    All jobs lost under W (8 million in his last year) been restored without a single republican vote. Since McCain would have increased the size of the military, those would have been government jobs and wouldn't have counted.

    September 16, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    As someone who has lived through the worst of the recession, yeah ... things are getting better. Almost. I would rather not see a repeat of 2007-2008 for any of my American neighbors again in my 60+ lifetime. That being said, I feel more sorry for the basement bloggers ... the ones who are still living on mom and dad's dime. Out in the real world, they may not be so eager to defend the corporations and investors of said corporations bilking them of their jobs and their wages and their retirement pensions. At least not when it is THEIR livelihood, THEIR retirement, THEIR jobs being chopped so that a handful of others (not even necessarily Americans) can continue swimming in their million dollar paper portfolios.

    September 16, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. Fair is fair

    I guess all the new golf clubs he's been buying is helping lol

    September 16, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. tom l

    @Rudy

    "The sooner President Obama starts working with both parties to … solve Washington's spending problem, the stronger our economy will be for all Americans," Boehner said.
    -------––
    GOP Economic Solution: "Let's cut taxes." ... ... and make the spending problem even more acute. Bush tried that, and it failed.

    Ummmm, Rudy, you are aware that when Bush cut taxes (something that 25% of senate democrats voted for) that revenues to the US govt went up every year from 2002-2007, aren't you? And tell me, what are the "democratic economic policy solutions"? Would that be to raise taxes on the rich to pay for more govt programs? How is that working out for us?

    September 16, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  9. Data Driven

    @Lynda,

    "the basement bloggers"

    ... who are up at midnight, 1, 2 in the AM, posting comments online. (Look at the time stamps on the comments above ours.) I might gently suggest to them that they go to bed, wake up early, and try a little harder.

    But beyond that, they're right that they're not seeing the recovery, which has all gone to the 1%. But they're blaming the wrong man for it. Tax relief for the rich and "free trade" agreements that ship our jobs away, inaugurated under Reagan, will ensure that these folks will never get a chance to get a piece of the pie. But they'll continue to vote for politicians who advocate "tax cuts" and "spending cuts". We've had decades of that now (our 2 Democrat presidents since Reagan have not changed the calculus on this at all), and see how it's turned out: Hooverville!

    September 16, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  10. Tom1940

    Yes! The President should be "truthful" and "fully disclose" his economic record. However, it is clear and right there before all the world to see. His painfully Progressive, far Left policies, mirroring those in place in Socialist European Governments touted "shoring up jobs", by pumping millions into "Public Employee jobs", "Green Energy seed money (all for naught as most went under and declared bankruptcy). Helping his "union supporters" out by "nationalizing" General Motors, kicking bond holders to the curb and giving Union Representatives places on the board of GM, who still owe millions to the U.S. Treasury after it's bailout. As opposed to Ford that took nothing and is now back on stable financial ground. A foundering, jobs deficient private sector that languished then, and languishes still today, whose numbers of unemployed are not dropping because of people returning to well-paid "good" jobs, but are because people seeking employment, quit looking and are dropped off the roles. Killing jobs through regulation, rules, administrative law, mandates and blocking entire industries (i.e. coal and oil), by obstructing or slowing down the permitting process, etc.. A National (socialist) HealthCare System that is sucking the Treasury dry, and killing off the Jobs Market, by elimination of "full" time jobs, replacing them with part time workers that have only 29 or less hours of work at any one place of employment. The increase in numbers of college students, unable to find employment, moving back in with mom and dad. And the list goes on – and on – and on!. What record of positive improvement can this President pretend to upon to "tout" what a fantastic job he's (and his Administration), have done. During the 1900's he would be labelled a "charlatan", "flim-flam-man", "liar" "thief", "forked-tongued con-artist", (among other things), then tarred, feathered and ran out of town. A "record" to stand on! This Administration makes Berny Madoff, "Ponzi", and other notable scam-artists and con men look like rank amateurs in comparison to the Big Scam Job done to the American People during the last 5 years. A "Record". You betcha! A record of lies, deceit, charlatans, political back-scratching/pocket lining that will keep political scientists and Historians digging for years to catalog the full extent of the greatest rip-off of the American Government/People in it's entire history. All in the space of 5-years. That being the first term and 9 months into the second term of B. Obama and company. "Touting". What a wonderfully "pregnant" word to use in describing this Presidency.

    September 16, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. Wake up People!

    I couldn't agree more DD. Everyday during my commute to work I see executives driving their really nice cars while people like myself who had to take a $5 drop in pay, while having to drive a half hour each way compared to my old drive, which was 5 minutes away drive older cars. The point I'm trying to make is some people complain because they are only making $90,000 a year and can't take a vacation or get another car, while many of us, even those with an education have to survive on $25,000 or less annually. Some of us can't even afford healthcare but others are running around getting all types of frivolous surgeries like lipo. I don't see it changing anytime soon. I almost feel like an indentured servant.

    September 16, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. FubarObama

    The only record he should be touting is the song "Hit the road Jack"

    September 16, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Autos is striking," Sperling said on Sunday. "The president made the right and very politically difficult call.
    -------------------------------------------------
    He saved my industry. He saved my job.
    @ Lynda
    That being said, I feel more sorry for the basement bloggers ... the ones who are still living on mom and dad's dime. Out in the real world, they may not be so eager to defend the corporations and investors of said corporations bilking them of their jobs and their wages and their retirement pensions. At least not when it is THEIR livelihood, THEIR retirement, THEIR jobs being chopped
    -------------------------------------------------
    I so agree.

    September 16, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. TONE

    @RobL
    You seem educationally challenged if you have to put a dash in between the word more-on to spell it, only kids in kindergarten do things like that. And the word is spelt moron or mor-on. Your hatred for this president is obvious if you cannot see that ten years of bush was worse than 5 years of Obama Presidency with no Republican help.

    September 16, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. ThinkAgain

    @Larry: You can blame the Repubs for all the obstruction. NEVER in our nation's history has an opposition party worked so hard to make our president and our country fail.

    Why should our enemies lift a finger to harm us when we've got Republicans to do it for them?

    September 16, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. ghostwriter

    Conservatives just aren't too swift. Losing close to a million jobs a month, a record low on the Wall St, housing market crashing are among the things he walking into office to deal with. A recession that everyone one was saying would take years to recover from. So to sit here and complain about the unemployment rate, the number of folks on assistance, the low wages, the loss of wealth, etc and more importantly, blame it on the man who tried to fix things is quite funny. Especially when republicans haven't passed a single one of his ideas since 2010. The man can't even appoint a dog sitter without a filibuster.

    So maybe republicans just have bad memories. But blaming Obama for the effects of a recession they caused all while blaming him for the slow recovery they are hindering makes little sense.

    September 16, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    "We've had decades of that now (our 2 Democrat presidents since Reagan have not changed the calculus on this at all), and see how it's turned out: Hooverville!"

    Indeed we have, Data. I spent a lifetime jogging up that hill to get to Reagan's shinning city. At the end of the day, I found I disliked Reagan, his shinning city, the people living in his shinning city, and the stench of trickle down manure oozing from that shinning city.

    The lights have been shut off for years now in Reaganland (decades actually) and folks still cling to that garbage dump as the next best thing to heaven.

    September 16, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Fair is Fair

    Fair is fair

    I guess all the new golf clubs he's been buying is helping lol
    --------
    A new fake fair?

    September 16, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Data Driven

    @Wake up,

    And your story is typical, sadly enough.

    Perhaps some people think $25K a year is a lot of money. (These people tend to earn much more than that and have never learned how to live on such a salary.). I'm sure that in, say, 1983,;it was sufficient. But wages have stagnated and have fallen far behind the cost of living. Contempt for labor has created a society of lives lived on the edge, the "paycheck-to-paycheck" existence, drab lives with hardly any of the little extras, like home ownership and a savings account for your kids' college expenses, that are the supreme consolation of the lives of working people.

    What's needed? At this point, I'd say a RADICAL redistribution of the country's wealth from the super-rich, who have become parasitical, like big tics sucking the life out of the middle class, to the rest of us.

    Calling FDR, calling FDR ... you're needed in surgery!

    September 16, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  20. ghostwriter

    Tom1940, I think your problem is your recollection of events. Government jobs have decreased under Obama, for starters. The rate of failure for those energy companies was I believe below 20%. But that's for starters.

    Jobs have been fleeing the US for some time now. Wages have been stagnant since the 90's, HC insurance rose steadily since then as well. More and more companies were looking at making changes to HC...hiring folks to work just under full time, reducing staff and over working the remaining employees that are now in fear of losing their jobs, laying off 200 employees while granting million dollar bonuses to CEO's. These are all things that have been going on for some time now. And most of it has to do with businesses looking at employees as costs rather than people.

    September 16, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. e

    if you like low wages and no benefits –vote republican

    September 16, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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