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. koumintan

    Yes US Economy recovering under President Obama. Yet there is nothing to do with him policy or his work. It is all by American people who get no help but sabotage from the president's lack of business knowledge. Mr. Obama is onto helping his agenda of helping public employee on expense of private business. Other than that he has no policy, nor any principal. His action prove he stand on nothing. At least his wife has principle which to feed kids with tasteless but notorious foods makes life colorless. This is a opinion from foreigner who think Mr. Obama is great leader who give advantages to foreign competitors like China to step on No1 in two years.

    September 16, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  2. Not Fooled

    Wonderful economic job MR President,.. more waste in government, trillions in spending, and a slower economic recovery due to your actions. The economy would have recovered regardless,.. yet with all the extra government spending (which always includes a high degree of waste and fraud),.. with the crony capitalism you have done,... we have a looming issue that is being kicked down the road,... thanks for ensuring we will have more economic issues when that comes to bear,..

    September 16, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  3. Wake Up, America

    LOL! How much Cinderella99 is he smoking? The debt is climbing beyond the $17 trillion mark, the deficit is growing, the unemployment rate is lower than the peak of 10% when he was office the first term, but at 7.3%, it has FINALLY tied the rate during the last full month Bush was in office (December 2008), however, it hasn't been that low since Obama's first day in office. What an asinine idea to bask in the glow of NOTHING.

    September 16, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  4. Yon

    Another PR trip? This man has mental issues. The economy speaks for itself.

    September 16, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  5. Anonymous

    This guy has trashed Main Street America in favor of Wall St The middle class is being destroyed and with it our democracy The rich are becoming richer and more powerful. and through their lobbyists rule this country
    So when Obama talks about economic recovery his words are only words The American public is hopefully not as gullible when they hear this President's words

    September 16, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  6. Dick Smegma


    The arrogance!
    The chutzpa!
    The delusions!

    September 16, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  7. Satch99

    95% of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of earners.

    When are we going to take the Wall Street and Corporate criminal "1%" outside and line them up for Treason? How much is enough

    September 16, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  8. Bigdoglv

    Talking about the auto bailout at a Ford plant? I thought they turned the money down, and have done quite well.

    September 16, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  9. Juan Mitchell

    Took this long for the idiot to claim success of the last president. Obama is a fraud.

    September 16, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  10. Red Shoes

    Stephanopoulos' comment in this article is right on the mark.

    September 16, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  11. swatguy

    Obama's economic and Syria policies are pretty similar....hope for change....

    September 16, 2013 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  12. Mark

    Obama gets a lot of credit for turning the economy around, including bailing out the auto companies against fierce opposition. But get your facts straight - TARP was proposed and passed under Bush, not Obama.

    September 16, 2013 12:48 am at 12:48 am |
  13. Mark

    Meant to say Obama "deserves" a lot of credit...

    September 16, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  14. G. W. Bush

    OBAMA! Boo Hoo hoo, Republicans!!!

    September 16, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  15. Not Too Hard To Understand

    This just has to tick off McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, etc...

    September 16, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  16. HJC

    If Obama is going to take credit for these programs it will only be right that he takes the blames if they fall apart.

    Tick, tick,tick,tick,tick,tick,tick,tick

    September 16, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  17. halleujah

    You DO know TARP was signed into law by Bush right? For shame CNN and your consistantly terrible reporting.

    September 16, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  18. daniel

    Cnn is news for zombies, what has obama really done? I don't see much being done are wages in this country is to low ! And everything is going sky high! This companys that hire people don't want pay a good wage in this country... Very lil rises and bonuss your working to work .. With no benefit of it...

    September 16, 2013 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  19. davestake

    Where is he trumpeting the fact that we have the lowest labor participation rate in 30 years and the slowest recovery in modern history? Obama has undermined the economy from the day he took office. Sadly it doesn't look like it ill actually improve till he leaves office. I can't wait.

    September 16, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  20. Larry

    Yeah this has worked out great. The top 10% got what 95% of the "recovery" so far. The top 1% had their income go up last year and theyre now getting 19.2% of all income in the country. Yep things are better everybody is doing fine.

    September 16, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  21. Jojo

    He's got to be kidding.

    September 16, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  22. San Diego Mayor

    If Auto Company Executive(s) did not get ANY bonuses, I would say it's a good deal otherwise not

    September 16, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  23. San Diego Mayor

    And AIG too especially.

    September 16, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  24. sam

    The economy is still about the same...maybe marginally better at best. Either way it has nothing to do with Obama for sure. I'd argue it is happening despite the government. Face it, it's cheaper to outsource and this has weakened our econony to its core. This is the result of a global economy. It only works when you are a seller and a buyer. Right now we're just a buyer...which sucks.

    September 16, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  25. strangerq

    Rpublicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner, have long criticized Obama for "mediocre" job growth and growing the national debt.

    ^ As opposed to the GOP's record of spectacular job loses?

    September 16, 2013 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
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