Obama’s Economic Performance Is Even Better Than It Looks

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Paul Krugman presents us today with an updated version of his chart showing private employment gains during the Obama administration compared to the Bush administration:

But Obama’s performance is even better than it looks. Here’s an updated version of my chart showing total government expenditures for both the Bush and Obama administrations measured since the end of the recessions they inherited:

Bush inherited a mild recession and got a huge fiscal boost. Obama inherited a deep recession and got a huge fiscal headwind. Even so, Obama’s employment performance has been far better than Bush’s.

As it happens, I don’t think presidents have a dramatic effect on the economy. But they have some. John McCain wouldn’t have fought for stimulus spending or extensions of unemployment insurance. He would probably have appointed more conservative members of the Fed, who might have tightened monetary policy sooner. He would have insisted on keeping the portion of the Bush tax cut that goes to the rich.

So Obama deserves some of the credit for this. George Bush squandered his political capital on tax cuts for the wealthy and soft regulation of Wall Street. We saw the results of that. Obama spent his political capital on stimulus and health care and the social safety net. The result has been a sustained recovery despite a net decrease in government spending over the past six years. Not bad.

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate