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. Nammme

    Wasn't he just saying he needed more time to work on the economy during the election? Has there really been that much that has gotten better since then?

    September 16, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  2. kamarasune

    I so glad everything came out rosy for wall street while tent cities have doubled across America.....

    September 16, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  3. Rheingau

    As te POTUS missed his own economic goals by a wide margin, how can he claim economic success?

    September 16, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  4. Mark

    Why wouldn't we all want to sound off in favor of anything good in OUR country, I say "RING the bells, BLAST the horns and SING our song, come on! let's all RISE! UP! and WIN!, this is AMERICA!!!

    September 16, 2013 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  5. Charles M.

    He's giving his speech at a Ford plant, the only US automaker to NOT take a bailout. 96% of the hjobs created on his watch are part time. Black unemployment is unbelievably, outrageously high, as is teen unemployment. Women are worse of financially than before the recession. The number of people receiving public assistance has skyrocketed during his time in office. The list goes on and on and on, and the while time he's done next to nothing to create an atmosphere conducive to business growth because he was too concerned with forcing obamacare through in the dark of night. This 'community organizer' is a fraud and a failure, the only reason he wants to take an undeserved victory lap is to trick the idiots who can't see through his charade even further into thinking he knows what he's doing.

    September 16, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  6. anon

    the economy isn't any better. Inflation is insane and there's no more real jobs under obama then there was under bush.

    September 16, 2013 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  7. larsonst

    Only goes to show that practical home-style economics do not map directly to the big economic picture. For instance when you are going broke, stop spending only makes sense or it's their problem, not mine. The government can actually stop or slow the slide by spending, in a smart way.

    This flies in the face of common wisdom, but that is why they are experts, are necessary, must be trustworthy. We need a way to verify the results (did it work, what did it cost, did we make out at or close to neutral, and most important, how many people did we protect).

    I think the Obama administration has tried and done a better job than a simple laissez-faire, or libertarian approach would have achieved. I think it is a shame that so many amateurs or party hacks have seen to it that their personal interests were more important than the social good of full employment, solid education and infrastructure funding, and a more equitable distribution of wealth. We live in a great country, but it still needs some work.

    September 16, 2013 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  8. ester7

    Imagine how much better things would be without Republicans obstructing his every attempt to improve the economy.

    September 16, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  9. boungiorno

    seems to me people have wearily been seeking truth and knowledge! They've earned it in my opinion by voting you in office and rightly so are waiting for their answer SO COME FORWARD WITH THE TRUTH SO WE CAN ALL MOVE FORWARD WITH OUR LIVES

    September 16, 2013 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Thank you president Obama!

    September 16, 2013 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  11. Concerned Netizen

    uh huh ... right. Probably end up being a foot note to impeachment hearings tho..

    September 16, 2013 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  12. John Q. Citizen

    This guy is obviously high.

    September 16, 2013 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  13. Frank

    Maybe next time you'll actually give money to the poor and make the rich work for it. But that would cause the people that feed you money under the table a lot of anger wouldn't it Mr Obama?

    September 16, 2013 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  14. pHredd

    Since when has bailing out big business and predatory banks been good for the American public. And all this while sticking it to the middle class. A good way to judge if the economy is better is to look at the attendance at sporting events...thousands of empty seats because people no longer have the means (money) to go to them. Many will say that incomes are up for sporting events and other forms of entertainment but that's because ticket prices have more than doubled since Obama has gotten in office.

    September 16, 2013 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  15. john

    I'll have to break out my thesaurus to see how many equitable definitions I can get for pathetic.

    September 16, 2013 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  16. king

    i remembered going down town Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, virtually everywhere i went to find work, was desolated and empty. i never thought America would ever recovered, especially when it took the first financial crash that brought on the great depression over 2 decades and a world war for this country to get back on its feet. this depression or great recession took months after Obama took office to stem the massive hemorrhaging, even as the repubs was going around shouting small government and trickle down economics. this president replaced all the factories and the jobs they produce that went overseas, with obamacare. obamacare gave jobs to hundreds of thousands of people who had saw the companies they've been working at for decades skipped our shores. obamacare help took the stock market crash to its highest levels in our nations history, it has half my immediate family working in the health industry. it has thousands of small businesses popping up to feed off the bounty that the law provides. the repubs cannot stand this success, because of their massive hatred of Obama, so they are spending billions of dollars to fool the american people, watch how the right wing of the repubs party is rushing to communist Putin of Russia, this is how much hatred they have for the man that took this country from the abyss. these are the people who like to run around the country draped in our flag and constitution.

    September 16, 2013 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  17. Gene

    America's greatest problem is the media who muddy the waters. They have no interest in anything except ratings. They go to journalistism school and are highly paid to give their opinion or to express lying views of a party that they don't dare cross because they know the consequences of crossing evil. People , please watch more than one network and draw a logical conclusion. Support the politicians and media outlets who are for the people not for the super rich people who get big tax breaks, have secure pensions and lifetime healthcare. People open your eyes.

    September 16, 2013 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  18. NameRick

    Hard to swallow with the deficit at record numbers and nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps, while propoganda media fudging the real unemployment rate.

    September 16, 2013 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  19. Bill

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Ford never accepted any government bailout money. On its face it seems odd that Obama would give a speech at a company that refused the government's help.

    September 16, 2013 04:02 am at 4:02 am |
  20. Fairguy

    What a load of crap. Obama and the Fed hit the printing presses and shoveled trillions into the hands of greedy corrupt and bankrupt bankers while the 99% saw their savings and jobs continue to disappear. The stock market gains are a new bubble designed to buy the allegiance of the opinion makers and those in the population that haven't yet had to cash their 401Ks to cover household costs. There will be hell to pay when the next crash comes and ithe outcome will be terrible.

    September 16, 2013 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  21. BO

    He's gotta be kidding.

    September 16, 2013 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  22. Durl Stephens

    President Obama took the money from the little people and helped the rich bankers that rape the public.

    September 16, 2013 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  23. Mike S

    One question....
    Where are the jobs?

    September 16, 2013 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  24. enilk

    Harold? Hair old? Herald?.......Hahahaha : 0

    September 16, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  25. morsekeely

    Since the "recovery" began 4 years ago: the poverty rate is up to its worst rate since the 1960s, Food Stamp use is up to its worst rate since ever, the Employment Rate is down to its worst rate since the 1970s, the Employment Participation Rate for 25 to 54 year olds is down to its worst rate since the 1980s, 45% of recent college grads do not have a job that requires a college degree, the Fed has increased QE stimulus to its highest rate ever 85 Billion a month in new money creation to keep the stock market and housing market inflated, GM was given over 100 Billion dollars if you count future tax breaks and customer subsidies – twice the value of the total company – but hey they paid back a 7 Billion loan with other free government money!!!

    4 years of recovery means worsening numbers while increasing QE stimulus?

    September 16, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
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