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. Gary Vey

    Did I accidentally log on to the ONION?

    September 15, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. David

    Unbelievable. This guy is sooooo lost...and we still have another 3 years!

    September 15, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  3. common sense

    Detroit and the Midwest should be his first stops.

    September 15, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. ColdWarVet75

    He's bragging that we are worse off than in 2008?

    September 15, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  5. yippeeskip

    What record???

    September 15, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  6. KBNJ

    " 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."
    pssst....Barry! Over here! The election is OVER!

    September 15, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. Robyn

    The "Republican" Tea Party in the House of Representative has worked tirelessly to deepen, prolong, intensify and exacerbate the second American Great Depression.

    The fact that they have failed up until this point does not mean they will stop trying to cripple the American economy in any way they can. They correctly see crisis, deprivation and desperation as their only road to power in the Senate and the White House. I have no doubt that they will continue to work unceasingly to undermine American interests and the American economy.

    Proud of their role as fifth columnists, they see the destruction of the American middle class and the American way of life at hand. As George Orwell wrote, "An iron boot stamping on a human face, forever." That is their dream of the future.

    September 15, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. common sense

    I support the president. but this article is wrong. America is broke

    September 15, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. DRubble

    My impression is he hasn't done squat. The economy is cyclical and he has done nothing to speed up the "bad" part. But that's just me.

    September 15, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Bob

    If he has to spend a week convincing us the economy is good, is it? Wouldn't the economy speak for itself?

    September 15, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. MarioLuiggi

    The worst economic recovery, fastest debt growth and biggest spread between rich and poor in American history.
    Congratulations Mr. Barrack Hussein Obama and all those that elected him to address the priority needs of the Nation.

    September 15, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  12. why

    tarp and aig were voted on in 2008 under bush

    September 15, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  13. Maximus

    "These very difficult, bold and politically controversial measures that the president took in 2009 have uniformly performed better than almost anyone could have projected,"
    Question, Mr. Sperling: better than what and for whom?

    September 15, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  14. Sumguy2006

    Hey Pres. Obama...you can't run for a third term, you can stop campaigning.

    September 15, 2013 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  15. bush

    Shocked anyone could repair the damage I did to this country. ... sortof.

    September 15, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  16. cliffcummings

    During every election cycle, a common mantra is, "the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer." That is true when Republicans control the government and it is also true when democrats are in control, but at a slightly slower pace. Income levels are not a good indication of being "rich." Bill Gates can increase his net worth by $5B in stock value in one year and not pay a penny of taxes on the increase unless he sells some of the stock. If you really want to tax the rich, impose a 3% net-worth tax on any net worth greater than $10M and lower the taxes on all income. I would hope that the rich could make on average 4% in gains (or much more) on their riches so their net worth would still increase by 1% or more each year. There would have to be important exemptions such as farm land, personal home, and small business assets.

    September 15, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  17. history repeats

    Occupy Wall Street

    September 15, 2013 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. Michael Logan

    Easy to reach these milestones. When all we do is print money.

    September 15, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. j

    Someone better tell him this isnt the Correspondents Dinner. Jokes wont go over at this speech.

    September 15, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I am a big Obama fan, but TARP was not created under his watch. It was signed into law by Bush in October 2008

    September 15, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. Alex

    Record debt, record unemployment above 7%, record disparity between rich and poor, wasteful government spending, more and more people having difficulty putting food on their tables. What a fantastic record! This recovery has been the worst recovery of any recession we've ever had.

    September 15, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  22. bill davis

    And the Unions are still wanting more favors, at the expense of the taxpayers.

    You can not spend yourself out of debt, nor pay a worker more than he is worth.

    September 15, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  23. Mark

    I'm sure the Republican lie machine will continue, no matter what the truth is. Obama could double the GDP and the republicans would say he cut it in half. They are full of bold-faced lies.

    September 15, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  24. SalMoanella

    This guy is so pathetic he heralds a record of abysmal failure.

    September 15, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  25. iceload9

    It's bad enough not to do anything beyond GM for years, but to display it as a win is ridiculous. Mr. President the top 1% salute you, the rest of us remain stagnant or sinking.

    September 15, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
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