Despite doomsayers, Obama leads a recovery

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)July 18, 2014 

The following editorial appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer on Monday, July 14:

President Barack Obama's political opponents doubtless won't take "yes" for an answer or acknowledge that his stewardship of the economy has been on track, but the June job figures are promising indeed. Some 288,000 jobs were added last month, and the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent.

The stock market shot up at the news, appropriately so.

And then came the White House budget office estimate that the 2014 federal deficit will drop to $583 billion this year, the lowest level since the president took office. The estimate was $66 billion less than the administration predicted earlier this year.

No one person or event stands above others as the reason for this significant step forward in the economic comeback since Obama took office in January 2009. And the president's chronic critics would say it all would have happened anyway in the natural course of post-recession economics.

Certainly there's an element of "natural" recovery. But what if Obama hadn't pushed through "stimulus" spending and the saving of the automobile industry? Would the businesses helped have come back as quickly or at all?

And remember how those who blasted, and still blast, the Affordable Care Act as doomsday for the nation's economy said it would implode everything, slow recovery and cause the deficit to explode? None of those things happened. The deficit is dropping, and the ACA is working so well that some of the president's foes aren't even talking about it much any more.

All Americans ought to celebrate that this nation is recovering from the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. It might not have been so. And the president ought to get some credit, at least, for recognizing that simply allowing the economy to recuperate on its own would have left many hundreds of thousands of people out of work for longer periods of time. The recovery could have taken 20 years.

Indeed, in the early 1930s, opponents of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal shouted about socialism and catastrophe and advocated doing nothing or, as they put it, allowing the free enterprise system to bring the country back from the brink.

Roosevelt didn't listen. Those who were alive in that time and saw families on the streets and witnessed children going hungry believe the country might have been vulnerable to revolution without the New Deal.

No concessions from critics

The recession Obama inherited might not have been as severe, but for families who lost their livelihoods and their homes, there was indeed a personal depression.

The president's critics intend to concede him nothing, not a successful health care reform program, not the rescue of the auto industry, not the economic recovery. Indeed, there's an impeachment movement against Obama. It's based on the fuzzy claims that his foreign policy actions, in particular the release of former Taliban leaders to recover an American soldier, constitute the "high crimes and misdemeanors" necessary to bring impeachment charges.

One would think impeachment advocates would have learned something from the campaign against President Bill Clinton, who was impeached for lying about his relationship with a White House intern. Clinton, who was most certainly wrong though not deserving of impeachment, left the White House with high approval ratings and likely could be elected president again if he were allowed to run.

For some reason, President Obama stirs in his critics a hatred not often seen even in partisan politics. If only they would channel their emotions into productive action in the country's best interests, they could be constructive participants in policy debate instead of just Obama-haters.

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