Barack Obama gets a lot of blame and takes a lot of credit.
The president deserves some of the blame and much of the credit.
He doesn’t deserve all of what he gets or what he takes.
Politico has published a fascinating analysis of the economic recovery that is under way and wonders whether the president is taking too much credit for it. Its answer is “yes.”
I’ve been generous in my praise of Barack Obama’s handling of the financial meltdown that was occurring when he took office. He was bold and brash when he launched efforts to stimulate the economy with cash and when he persuaded Congress to enact bailout legislation that helped the automobile and banking industries.
Those efforts have paid off. Indeed, the auto industry has paid back the money it got and the Treasury is fatter because of it.
The latest job-creation numbers continue to show improvement in the economy, but as Politico points out, an $18 trillion economic machine — which is what the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is — is too big for a mere president or Congress to control.
As Politico reports: “Republicans say the economy is finally – and only partially – shaking off the impact of Obama policies like the Affordable Care Act, tax hikes and financial reform, all of which they contend slowed down growth. And they point to paltry wage gains once again evident in the December jobs report. Democrats say that’s sour grapes from partisans whose warnings of a disastrous ‘Obama economy’ look increasingly ridiculous.”
Furthermore, writes Politico: “Economists – on the left and right and in the middle – say the facts suggest a vastly more complex middle ground. Obama deserves significant credit for some shrewd and politically difficult moves early on his presidency, economists say, including the stimulus and the automobile and Wall Street bailouts.”
Congressional Republicans are now trying wrestle some of the economic recovery credit away from the president. Some have joked that the GOP has taken control of the full Congress only since Monday, noting that Democrats have run the Senate while the House has been in GOP hands only since 2011.
I’ve also noted that credit for the recovery can be shared, just as blame can be found on both sides for the collapse that occurred in the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency.
The bottom line is that the economy is too huge, too complicated and contains too many traps for a single set of policies to manipulate.