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. sonstep

    who cares what republicans think? remember jobs, jobs, jobs to get elected, not one jobs bill. the party of no is full of it. in fact, the house republicans should give the American people every dime back they took in salaries. years wasted voting over and over on dumb, stupid nonsense. years they could have used to help the American (U S) people get on their feet faster. they could care less, they all have plenty of money. please don't fall for their lies again in your lifetime.

    September 15, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Kevin

    "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."

    Okay, tell me why that's a bad thing.

    September 15, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. aaronmarshall701327399

    Spin doctoring is about all this President knows how to do verbally without a teleprompter. The national debt has already doubled under his watch and keeps climbing; yes the dollar WILL collapse at some point. But I don't think this is all mere incompetence; this has been carefully planned and deliberately carried out and I'm not even going to mention the "assets" Obama has placed with the NSA, the Drone surveillance program, the IRS, the AP, and probably every level of every vital government and media agency. Somebody's waiting to fill the power and economic void left behind after the USA crumbles to its knees; I believe they bankrolled Obama and who knows what else to get him where he is now. Why do you suppose he practically had a Nobel Peace Prize waiting for him on the Oval Office desk? Folks, we've been sold down the river.

    September 15, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  4. UriNation

    He's going to spend a week on the road patting himself on the back; no one else will.

    September 15, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  5. Brian

    ha ha. Obama himself predicted back in 2008 that the economy and employment would be better than it is today if McCain would have won...

    September 15, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  6. D. McLeod

    Billions of dollars to bail out? This was precious dollars of taxpayers and was done with no regard to using taxpayer funds wisely. And I don't see a strengthened economy.

    September 15, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. goevolve

    He's trying to build political capital, for the big battle over debt ceiling. Question is who will compromise more, to stop the sequester and raise the debt ceiling, the Republicans are going to want a give back either curtailing Obamacare, or Tax reform. The Democrats want to stop the sequester at all costs, get out the popcorn this will be more fun than Monday Night Football.

    September 15, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  8. Mike

    The economy sucks and it's only getting worse. There are no jobs. What few "new" jobs there are barely pay above minimum wage (yes, even factory jobs) thanks to temp agencies and their greedy collusion with major companies all over the US, and so people are getting rid of satellite television, internet service, buying less food, missing rent payments and going without medication. I spoke to four different people today and everyone of them has had to cancel their internet and satellite/cable service because they're BROKE. The temp agencies rule employment now. Companies don't hire direct anymore, they go through temp agencies to get workers and then the temp agencies end up pocketing a very large share of the money the company is paying to have the temp working for them. For example and this is a real world example, a company pays the temp agency $17.00 an hour but the temp is only getting $10.00 an hour. The temp agency is pocketing the rest of the money for doing nothing but screening applicants up front. After the temp begins working at the company the temp agency sits back and takes in $7 for every hour that temp employee works.. Why is it illegal for a pimp to 'hire and manage' prostitutes who do all of the work while pocketing most of the money for himself but it's not illegal for a temp agency to do it? And most companies don't hire their temps, they keep them on for maybe a year or so and then they get rid of them and hire a bunch of new temps. The govt needs to step in and exacting more oversight of this runaway industry that is causing things to get worse and worse for the average American worker. Companies need to stop being so greedy and hire people on as permanent employees whenever they can, as soon as it is feasible to do so. If you can employ temps year-round for years and years then obviously you have a need for permanent employees.

    September 15, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  9. Donn Arnold

    Obama is out of touch economically since he spends our money and is, himself, one of the rich.

    September 15, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  10. John

    Does President Obama ever stop campaigning? 5 years after taking office and this all he does? What a joke. How about fixing your disaster of a health care bill.

    September 15, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  11. Trombonebiker

    Never believe a Republican House member. Liars!

    September 15, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  12. Pendy

    WHAT??? This article belongs on The Onion. Not only is Dear Leader trying to "transform America", he also is attempting a re-definition of chutzpah.

    September 15, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. Thomas

    "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."

    Geez, that's peachy. Now why don't you tell them the part that Chrysler was just given away, and that the Tax payer is on hook for Billions that they will likely never get back. Slap some more lipstick on this pig, Obama, your base is too dumb to know any different.

    September 15, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  14. Thomas

    "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."

    Geez, that's peachy. Now why don't you tell them the part that Chrysler was just given away, and that the Tax payer is on hook for Billions that they will likely never get back. Slap some more lipstick on this pig, Obama, your base is too ignorant to know any different.

    September 15, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  15. csx

    Seriously this is news?
    It is a lie. The Soviets were better than this.

    Americas' disaster and you cnn keep a straight face?

    September 15, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  16. joe zapustus

    This is an administration that has lost all touch with reality

    September 15, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. mkuske

    So...why aren't you holding the Obama administration to some honestly here CNN? The successful AIG bailout came before Obama was even elected. The successful TARP program came before Obama was even elected. The only thing he did was sign off on the second traunch of funds that was built into TARP. Of course he did bring us the auto bankruptcies which - as you do note - still has us more than $25 billion in the hole. His policy of attacking the very institutions who lead us out of poor economic times, has us in the slowest economic recovery in US history when - based on the depth of the dip - we should have had the second or third largest economic bounce in history. AWESOME job Obama...not.

    September 15, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  18. Wade

    Slowest recovery since the great depression, higher unemployment than when Obama took Office, more people out of work that at anytime in US history INCLUDING the great depression, people are at their poorest since 1962. SURE GREAT job Obama! LOL.... The Only thing that save us was when BUSH bailed out the banks after that Obama just threw money at the wind.

    September 15, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  19. The D A

    Seriously? Failed with Syria, failed with economy.....when does Urkel leave for his next golf trip?

    September 15, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  20. RM

    Is this a joke? Reminds me of when Bush landed on the aircraft carrier..."Mission Accomplished".

    September 15, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  21. Name Jeff

    This president is a fraud. There is still 14 percent unemployment, but most have stopped looking for work and are living on the street or with their parents.

    September 15, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. Dustinsc

    This is the Obama equivalent of "Mission Accomplished"

    September 15, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. Kathy

    The President has a tough job when he took on the Presidency. Our economy and the debt ceiling was already high. I still believe if the many programs that have been abused such as Welfare, if tighter laws enforced to only allow people to get the program providing they meet certain requirements. As far back as I can remember people have applied for this program and are still on it, their children and grandchildren are on it. It's a cycle. Money used for highways, railways are to some degree wasted. How long have we gone without our roads being corrected, all they do is patch, and that is only temporary. What happens is our cars get ruined, large pot holes ruin the undercarriage of the car, the tires and brakes need realigning, the list can go on. If laws are not implemented to ensure that these benefits for every state, are used purposefuly this becomes part of that large debt. We as tax payers have to answer to where our money is used and where it's kept, our government should also tell the people how, why, and where they are spending the monies. The biggest rip off is, why does the tax payer have to pick up the tab for every person in our government whose abused, misused, and defrauded our government. We had nothing to do with it, why should we pay. Why isn't the people who misappropriate funds, programs, ect. not being held accountable? Why are they getting away free and clear, resuming their lives if as though no crime was committed. Sick of it, and sick of paying for these retards, who have no guilty conscience, who can lie straight to your face. Disgraceful.

    September 15, 2013 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  24. jay

    Obama's Economic Record is a Train Wreck ! Underemployment at all time HIGHS. Percentage of workforce employed at an all time LOW. 0 % of jobs created are low income and PART Time! The US is sliding not slipping into the 3rd world category he hoped for.

    September 15, 2013 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  25. Drew

    Another "mission accomplished". News break Obama, it's called economic cycles, we could've done without wasting a trillion dollars and probably had a more robust recovery.

    September 15, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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