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. David

    I love it that Obummer is going to a Ford plant to brag about the automobile industry bail out when Ford wasn't even part of it! What a doof!

    September 15, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. Evelyn Connaway

    Good article, but Dan Merica didn't mention why the middle class and poor aren't doing as well as the one percent crowd. Gee I said, I mean they have really hit the good mark. But due to the radical rousing republicans who took on the great big fight of bring down President Obama. We used to call that an unfair fight when a whole bunch of men jumped on ONE MAN and tried to beat him to a pulp! Though physically they didn't lay a hand on him – by foul word and deed – deed being voting NO or filibustering everything he wanted to do. Those foul words and deeds also knocked the props out from under the working people and our country. NO JOBS BILLS PASSED -EVEN THOUGH IN 2010 THAT'S WHAT THE GOP RAN ON JOB JOBS JOBS! Yet they never allowed a JOBS bill to pass. No minimum wage bill passed either. The one great bill that passed The Affordable Care Act, but boy did they try. But they just finished trying to repeal it for the 41st time! It's good and they know it's good. Now they want to shutdown the government and not raise the deft ceiling and adding a little side job of defunding the ACA in the wording – sneaking stuff like they used to do when they added pork in for their states and friends. Wouldn't it have been better in the long for them to have worked with President Obama (instead of saying Obama wasn't working with them) to help rebuild our country that they helped trash, whether they liked the fact that he won the Presidency or not, than to continue on trashing it and taking the citizens further down than they had already been reduced to in the past 8 years, before Obama was even elected! Some minds are like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and permanently set – the republicans are caught up in the type of wolf-pack mentality that attacks the weak
    and helpless – never having learned that dealing fairly with others will bring you self-satisfaction and strengthen ties. I don't know whether they realize it yet, but our President who loves all people, is kind, honorable, compassionate and willing to do the right thing for the citizens to the best of his ability is not a WEAK MAN, he is strong and determined. You can tell how big a man is, by what it takes to discourage him. After all the adversity he went through in his lifetime to finally reach his destination of being President of the United States, why would anyone of the GOP think they could discourage him to give up on the duties he assumed when he swore on his oath that he would do the right thing! And so help him God, he will!

    September 15, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  3. Frank

    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.
    From ancient human civilization to the modern times, the wealthy overall have fared better than the poor. This will always happen in every economic cycle; no matter the political party dominating congress and the white house.

    September 15, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  4. Alice Ann

    You've got to be kidding!

    September 15, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  5. Mank Moe

    Obamacare causing employers to cut full time jobs to part time jobs does NOT strengthen the economy. He is without a doubt the worst president we have ever had. Carter pales in comparison. This idiot is going to, by his self, going to take into ww3, without public, military, or international support .

    September 15, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Yeah.right69

    Thank God Obama was elected over McCain/Palin.

    September 15, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  7. jenn,philadelphia

    So he's going to a Ford plant to tout the auto bailout? Did any one on his team remind him that Ford didn't receive a bailout? I guess consistency is a good thing. The Administration is just as clueless on domestic issues and they are with foreign ones.

    September 15, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. Mike

    I don't understand why Obama is touring Ford's plant? Ford never asked for and did not receive any government funds during the Great Recession, as GM and Chrysler did. Maybe Obama wants to find out how a company can be successful without government interference.

    September 15, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  9. Books Will Save The Planet

    Delusional disorder much?

    September 15, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  10. billNY

    hahaha, that's hilarious. Still as clueless as ever, just like like those that voted for him. Thing is, they'll believe him.

    September 15, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  11. kyle

    Brace yourselves.

    September 15, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  12. sonstep

    republicans don't agree times are better. well, did the party of no help the president even once? hell no. remember the jobs, jobs, jobs lie to get elected in the house. not one jobs bill. thousands of dollars wasted on voting against obamacare and any thing Obama. the republicans in the house should give the American people every dime they took in salaries back and go home

    September 15, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. carlos

    This clown has no clue, and it would appear that more than 50% of American voters are as dumb or dumber.

    September 15, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. patrick e mclean

    I believe the highest Priority for the American Economy at the time President Obama came into office was the highest Priority The American Economy!

    Only time will tell if the American Economy will flurish again and President Obama!

    September 15, 2013 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. ScottName

    How stupid does this WH think we are.....time to repeat history and go all Roman history on these bunch of idiots.

    September 15, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  16. Robert

    I'm so sick of this guy...3 1/2 years and we can get someone with substance, not just a great speaker who doesn't take accountability for his own mistakes.

    September 15, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. Bill in Florida

    I realize that CNN ("Faux-light) loves to be anti-Obama, but you have to admit that Congress voted to accept the TARP program in 2008, then it was signed into law by President George W. Bush. TARP was not an Obama program.

    September 15, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. judewalker0220

    My spouse and myself received a raise every year UNTIL 4 years ago. Obama continues to play the American people and his sheep continue to believe him even though they to are many of the ones not getting raises. Stupid.

    September 15, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  19. Truth Partner 12

    Words, words, words. Very little data here, and the data that is here is either wrong (Ford took no bailout, therefor only 2 of the Big Three were "saved" by the bailout, and Ford survived anyway) or fatally incomplete – like TARP was a Bush Administration program that has been almost completely repaid, unlike the 3+ trillion-dollar stimulus packages that have "created" jobs at approximately $1.3 million-dollars each.
    Now there are some facts for you.

    September 15, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  20. John

    These guys are absolurely clueless.

    September 15, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. jerrystinger

    Happy days are here again
    All the haters shed those tears again
    Propagating all that fear and then
    Hillary in Oh Fourteen!

    September 15, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. John


    September 15, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  23. boungiorno

    is Pastor David James Manning related to Oboma

    September 15, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. boungiorno

    correction OBAMA

    September 15, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  25. Arthur Gilbert ch nj

    so he is going to tell us that the economy is doing well?.......really

    September 15, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
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