There’s a stunning disconnect between what the GOP says about our economy and its actual current condition. Put succinctly, the Republicans (virtually all of them, not just the tea sippers) are lying through their teeth about the state of the economy. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a country where facts mattered more than blind hatred? Where ignorance wasn’t something to be proud of? (And, of course, that applies to much of the right’s views…from evolution to climate change to the “coming any day now” end times.)
The news cycle is so punishing these days you might be forgiven for thinking the Obama era is over. But it isn’t. It’s at its peak in terms of impact, because policies, especially economic ones, take some time to have effect. Five years in, we have enough data - so reading through the Economic Report from the Council of Economic Advisers is therefore a helpful exercise. And it seems to me to be a rather impressive record - and utterly alien from the picture of gloom and dysfunction the Republicans are currently concocting.
I’ll restrict myself to core facts that are not in dispute, rather than the arguments in the report. Take the economy. Despite unprecedented austerity at the state and local government level, it’s now clear that the US has recovered from the Great Recession better than any other economy:
At least we can say with certainty that the stimulus didn’t fail, despite the silly denial in the GOP. The massive debt overhang - always the biggest drag on growth - has also been substantially reduced:
The deficit has come down at a rapid pace, without tipping us back into recession. And a key indicator of future debt - the cost of healthcare - is looking much better than it once did (although the causes for it remain disputed):
Then this amazing chart:
If someone had suggested to me in 2009 that by 2014, after the worst recession since the 1930s and after the huge debt pile-up in the Bush years that the US would be growing steadily, gaining energy independence, and cutting its deficit deeply, I’d have been amazed. We’ve so easily forgotten the extraordinary crisis Obama inherited. We shouldn’t. This presidency was always going to be judged on whether it could return the US to normal governance after the economic calamity of 2007, and after the disastrous wars that were far from over. I fail to see how Obama has failed in any critical respect. Not that it gets him much praise these days. For that we may have to wait for history’s judgment.