Whose Recession is it Anyway?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 11th, 2010

The Democrats had a Big Say in Bush’s Last 2 Years

Obama keeps saying he inherited a mess.  That’s why the economy is worse now than it was under Bush.  Because all that bad in the Bush administration had momentum.  Obama just couldn’t turn it around on a dime.  He would need time.  But this is a bit disingenuous.

The Democrats took control of the Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.  How big a deal is this?  Big.  The Democrats are already chastising the Republicans for what they may do if they win control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections.  If the Republicans win and they don’t rubberstamp everything the Obama administration wants, they’ll attack the Republicans as obstructionists.  Why?  Because if you don’t have Congress a president has a very difficult time advancing his agenda.  Just like Bush did.  When the Democrats were obstructionists.  (In the Democrat’s world, being obstructionist against Republicans is being patriotic.)

So you have that.  The last two years of the Bush administration were hamstrung by the Democrat controlled Congress.  Nancy Pelosi.  Harry Reid.  Big time liberal Democrats.  The last two years of Bush’s presidency were theirs.  They controlled Congress.  They dictated what happened in the House and the Senate.  They controlled the committees.  Appointed the chairpersons.  All of them.  Including the ones with oversight responsibility for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Barney Frank and Chris Dodd).  Who caused the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.  So, given all of that, you cannot assign sole responsibility for the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 on George W. Bush.  The Democrats were knee deep in that mess.

Members of the Obama Administration are Taking to the Lifeboats

If the Obama administration was the Titanic, the 2010 midterm elections are its iceberg.  Unlike that ill-fated passenger liner, though, this iceberg is on everyone’s radar.  And they’re taking to the lifeboats.  Gone or soon to be gone are Robert Gates, David Axelrod, Larry Summers, General James Jones, most of his economic advisors, and, of course, Rahm Emanuel.  To name a few.

Ewen MacAskill wrote in the Guardian (see White House staff exodus exposes Obama to charges of disarray) that it’s an Obama problem.  Unless you’re in Obama’s inner-circle, he doesn’t really care what you think or say (as is evident by the number of his czars – his real trusted advisors).

In a blog on the Politico website, Alvin Felzenberg, the presidential historian and author of The Leaders We Deserved, writes: “These departures are a reflection of Obama’s leadership style. Why he has such a difficult time earning and retaining the loyalties of people outside his circle of intimates is anyone’s guess.”

Unable to influence Obama to change course before this November’s bloodletting (and knowing that he may very well double down after the bloodletting instead of tacking to the center a la Clinton), they’re leaving.  Before they’re branded for life for the political carnage of this administration.

Obama’s Economics Team Hit the Ground Running

Besides having Congress for the last 2 years of the Bush presidency, the Democrats came in prepared.  They were honing their economic plans during the 6 months before Obama took the oath of office.  Or so says Professor Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University.

“The exhaustion rate for this administration is more accelerated due to the problems they encountered in January 2009. There was no presidential ‘honeymoon’,” Baker said today. He added that some of them had been working intensively on economic policy in the six months before Obama took over.

After 2 years of control of Congress and a 6-month preparation to ‘jump-start’ the economy, an objective observer can’t be all that impressed with the results.  And finds it hard to blame George W. Bush.  Especially when Christina Romer (a member of Obama’s economics team) guaranteed us that unemployment would remain under 8% if Congress passed the Obama stimulus plan.  And what did we get?  Record deficit spending and a higher unemployment rate.

Romer, in a statement she has since said she regretted making, promised Obama’s economic stimulus plan would get unemployment down to 8%, whereas it has stayed above that, with the latest figure at 9.6%.

Don’t forget, they were working on that stimulus plan for 6 months.  And the real unemployment rate is north of 10%.  When you put it all together, this recession is more Obama’s than Bush’s.  Which probably has a lot to do with the exodus from the Obama administration before the midterm elections.

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