Many of my friends on the right — and the far right — have taken great pains to blast the smithereens out of President Obama’s economic policies.
Namely, their target has been the increase in the national debt, which now stands at $17 trillion. What has run up the debt? It’s been that federal stimulus package the Obama administration pushed forward while the nation’s economy was in free fall.
You remember those days, right? The economy was shedding 700,000 jobs a month; banks were failing; the real estate market was collapsing; the stock market was flushing itself down the toilet.
Barack Obama’s response was a costly one. The Federal Reserve Board reduced interest rates to near zero, making it easier for borrowers to pay back loans, while making it tough on lenders who are in the business of making money on what they loan.
My pals on the right and their Republican pals in Congress keep harping on the difficulties the Obama administration has endured trying to restore the economy.
I keep circling back to this question, which Sen. John McCain in 2008 and former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012 both ignored as they ran for president against Barack Obama: What would have happened had the feds done nothing, had the government not instituted its stimulus package to shore up an economy that was on the verge of collapse?
I’ll add this follow-up: Why do they dismiss the clear evidence that the economy is in recovery at this moment? Is it back completely? Probably not.
* The job losses have stopped and have been replaced by job gains. Yes, the December job growth was disappointing. But we’ve gained back all the jobs lost during the final years of the Bush administration and the first year of the Obama administration.
* The annual budget deficit, which once topped $1.1 trillion has been cut in half — and is declining. Will we balance the budget by the time Obama leaves office? Probably not but it’s trending in the right direction.
* The jobless rate is at 6.7 percent, down from nearly 10 percent. Has it declined because every unemployed American has found work? No. Many of them have quit looking for jobs but the signs are indicating that opportunities are opening up on the job market.
* The stock market is setting records, which ought to please Wall Street investors — not to mention those of us with retirement accounts that depend on a healthy market.
I’m not naïve. I know there are myriad problems out there. The world is a restive place. Conflicts are erupting all over the planet. The United States is involved actively in a war that it is trying to wind down; we’ve already ended our involvement in another war. We’re killing terrorists almost daily, but the dead ones are being replaced almost immediately by recruits dedicated to waging war against the Great Satan. This war on terror won’t end anytime soon, folks.
Economically, though, I am feeling better about my future than I was, oh, about six years ago.
What’s more, I hate to think how I’d view our future if the government had kept its hands off the economic rudder.