On anniversary of recession, Obama set to herald economic record
September 15th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
8 years 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.

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"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. Kman66

    slowest recovery in history and 6 extra trillion in debt... great job Big O

    September 15, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. Thenry

    Wow. CNN posted a story about how Obama has saved the economy. Who would have see that coming.

    September 15, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. what?

    he is sooooo out of touch

    September 15, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. bigjohnpudd

    change the whole social security system. bail us out for once. bail the cities out that are distressed. stop bailing out useless industries that have no future. lmake every job a government job including mcdonalds. let us collect are money not at 52 55 or 70 yrs old. let us collect are money at 35? 40? I mean come on other people need jobs.

    September 15, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  5. Rufus

    Of course he'll take the credit. If the economy took a dump, he'd blame the Republicans.

    September 15, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. Joe

    OBAMA a great leader in our recovery from the GREAT RECESSION. Ya RIGHT.

    September 15, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  7. srcactus

    Bring the campaign bus around front, we're going for a ride [.;^)

    September 15, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  8. Jeebusss

    The problem is giant consolidated financial institutions that comprise gigantic market shares of a variety of different economic activities. Part of saving AIG should have been breaking it into many smaller companies, along with some of the other banks. We saved these institutions but they pose the same risk now in the future if they fail again. They are too big.

    September 15, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  9. Dave

    Surely he is jesting. The economy would have recovered sooner without all his help.

    September 15, 2013 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  10. toofunny

    really, so the deficit is solved? The debt is solved? We have managed to kick the can down the road further and we call that being accomplished? The same old problems still exist...the Fed just created 2.5 TRILLION $ by buying bonds over the last few years and they are still creating money. And we call that making progress? If you're falling off a cliff and feel that going down is accomplishing something...well, okay.

    September 15, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. Average American

    Still leaning back on that whole "Bush" thing huh? How about addressing the terrible job market and the largest absence in the workforce in the country's history?

    September 15, 2013 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. middle class

    I simply do not understand how this can be; I wish he lived the last 5-years in my shoes.

    September 15, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  13. Catherine

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain bwahahahahahahahaa

    September 15, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. Carl

    Another content-free dispatch from the Miniluv. Just what is the "economic record" Obama is set to herald? You'll search in vain for it in this article. Is it that "Six in 10 Americans told Gallup in August that economic conditions are getting worse"; or is it that "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"? Or, that "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"? That according to Obama " the rich have fared far better than the poor during his time in the White House", and "The folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth"? Oh wait, it must be that "Stock sales, dividend and loan payments together have returned only $52.7 billion to the government, leaving a $27 billion deficit."

    September 15, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOREVER

    He's touting his record for bailing out banks with TARP which has led too record profits on Wall Street while the rest of us suffer through stagnant wages and increased costs on everything.

    Sorry, I'm not impressed.

    September 15, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. Mayfray

    Ah, TARP, TALF and the auto bailouts were originated under Bush. Oh, and who's going to herald the lack of full time jobs? 80% of jobs created this year have been part time jobs as service sectors trim hours ahead of Obamacare. I suspect this is a spin cycle we're about to see.

    September 15, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  17. Natrldiver

    " the White House is taking credit for "strengthening" the economy"

    Please, if there are any people out there that actually pay attention to the numbers knows that we are far from recovering. Washington has continued to pad the numbers by ignoring the fact that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who gave up looking for employment all together. Sure the effective unemployment by DC standards is just over 7% but is probably more like 8% or higher. The jobs report continues to be dismal because there are not enough full time jobs out there and employers are cutting back in preparation for the debacle of Obamacare. As a retired veteran of over 20 years, my healthcare is scheduled to jump over 320%. This year alone it has gone up 20%. Home prices have not recovered. My home in CT still looses money to the tune of a 25% loss. Most homes in the area have lost upwards of 50% of their value. Retirement, forget it. 401K's are disappearing because there is too much incurred cost to the companies

    So again, the liberal machine is going to inflate their egos using false numbers. Just more lies from the Liar in Chief. How many more failures and scandals does an administration need before America finally wakes up to the reality. Or is America so blind that they have accepted the kool-aid and what appears to be the real slogan of the liberal left quoting Hillary Clinton "What does it matter?"

    September 15, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  18. Bob

    Are you kidding me?....obama must be delusional.

    September 15, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. Michael Powers

    Is this President delusional??? The economy getting better? We are in a depression with the entire middle class becoming the new poor! This President needs to pull his head out!!!

    September 15, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  20. hmmm

    this must be on the Comedy Channel

    September 15, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  21. DaveinIL

    So President Obama will be making a "Mission Accomplished" speech. LOL LOL
    Tell that to the millions out of work or under employed, the millions who've given up looking for work, the increased number of citizens at the poverty level, the senior citizens whose savings are earning less than 1% interest, or the college graduates who are working at McD's trying to pay off their college loans. Mr. "M. T. Suit" Obama is full of hot air and nothing else.

    September 15, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. James

    YEA, as the fake money continues to be printed hot off the presses. What happens when it stops......we are being held hostage.
    I remember working for a hosptial that was obviously going bankrupt. We all knew it and we were all just waiting to lose our jobs and decided it didn't hurt to stay until the end. As professional nurses, we were in no fear of not being able to find other jobs, right? But the whole time the thing was going down the tubes the adminstration told us that "everything was just fine". They actually has the gaul to tell us that were were ok and that they hospital would never close down. The reason they did this was they hoped to keep us from running away and leaving them with nobody to clean the place up when they DID SHUT IT DOWN. Of course, we were well aware of the lie and just laughed at their stupidity in thinking we were so damn stupid. This is what is going on now. We are being told that the ship is just fine when in fact, the water is coming over the sides and the lifeboats are already taken by the elite. We are doomed and yet we are being told that the band is still playing and the party is going to go on all night long

    September 15, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  23. Tim

    Obama has done nothing except help ruin the American economy. He should apologize and then step aside and let the adults handle the country.

    September 15, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  24. kelly

    All smoke screens to hide the phony scandals.

    Are YOU better off now than 5 years ago? I am not.

    September 15, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  25. jay k

    Let's not forget the 15 million added to food stamps added under Barry Obama pumping money back into the economy along with the 3 million added to disability. Plus a 5 year recession. Oh, and how the Fed needs to print 85 billion in fake money a month, to help out Barry's awesome economy. Not to mention the wealth gap is getting wider among the rich and middle class. And black unemployment has skyrocketed under Barry!

    September 15, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
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