During Thursday’s broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh made the unbelievable claim that the Great Recession, which took place from December 2007 to June 2009, was President Obama’s fault. Of course, as any sane American would know, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in November 2008 and took office on January 20th, 2009. Therefore, it would be hard to blame Obama for an event that began more than a year before he took office. However, that is exactly what El Rushbo did on Thursday.
Limbaugh began the segment by playing a clip from Fox Business’ Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo. The host and a guest of the show discussed a recent poll from Rutgers University. The poll showed that 71% of Americans feel that the recession has permanently affected the American economy. This is a change from November 2009, when the recession had just recently ended. At that time, 49% felt that the recession would have a long-lasting impact on the economy. It appears that over the past nearly five years, the American public has come to realize that the damage done throughout the 2000’s will be around for years and years.
The way Rush sees this, however, is that Democrats have spent years spreading propaganda blaming the economic and financial disasters of the 2000’s on President George W. Bush, all in an effort to distance the current POTUS from any culpability. In Rush’s mind, the recession that began in 2007 is all on Obama and Democrats and liberals are behind a grand conspiracy to smear Bush and anoint Obama.
The following excerpt is from the show’s website (emphasis mine):
RUSH: Right. Well, as usual, my friends, I am required to read the stitches between the fastball here. Why did I choose this sound bite? What is it about this sound bite that’s so urgent that I wanted you to hear it? Well, right here it is. “Most people, Sandra, believe the recession has permanently damaged this economy.” Who do most people blame for the recession? That would be George W. Bush.
Why do most people blame George W. Bush? Because the Democrats had literally no opposition for four or five years, maybe more, as they set this premise up. So even after six years of the Obama presidency with specific Obama policies, which have done great harm and damage to this economy, we have a poll here that says most people think Obama couldn’t fix it ’cause it’s permanent. That’s how bad Bush’s economy was.
Now, on this poll where the recession’s been a permanent drag, the Rutgers poll, you don’t even find Obama’s name. Obama is not mentioned in the poll questions. He’s not mentioned in the results, even though it was his recession. But, no, this is the Bush economy, and it was so bad, it’s now permanent. That’s what many people think. Not even Obama could save us, folks, it’s so bad what Bush did.
Here are the facts. The recession officially ended in June 2009 due to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. This was passed by Obama weeks into his presidency in order to reverse the negative trends occurring in the economy. Jobs were being lost, people were being foreclosed on and the economy was shrinking. Something needed to be done and the President got something together ASAP. And the thing is, it worked. While it wasn’t nearly as progressive as many on the left would have liked, the fact is millions of jobs were either saved or created, and we started seeing economic growth again.
Republicans have tried to act like the stimulus was a bust and didn’t work. However, they are dead wrong. In February of this year, The New York Times decided to revisit the stimulus and see how effective it was in helping the nation’s economic recovery. They found that it did quite a bit.
The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010.
In that same piece, they also pointed out that, due to Republican messaging in the months and years after the stimulus was passed painting it as a failure, further plans by the President and Democrats to create jobs and boost the economy were killed.
And yet Republicans were successful in discrediting the very idea that federal spending can boost the economy and raise employment. They made the argument that the stimulus was a failure not just to ensure that Mr. Obama would get no credit for the recovery that did occur, but to justify their obstruction of all further attempts at stimulus.
So the American Jobs Act was killed, and so was the infrastructure bank and any number of other spending proposals that might have helped the country. The president’s plan to spend another $56 billion on job training, education and energy efficiency, to be unveiled in his budget next month, will almost certainly suffer a similar fate.
This may be the singular tragedy of the Obama administration. Five years later, it is clear to all fair-minded economists that the stimulus did work, and that it did enormous good for the economy and for tens of millions of people. But because it fell short of its goals, and was roundly ridiculed by Republicans and inadequately defended by Democrats, who should have trumpeted its success, the president’s stimulus plan is now widely considered a stumble.
Obviously, Rush is just doing the House Republicans bidding right now and trying to reframe the failures of the Bush Administration as somehow being Obama’s fault. Since the economic recovery has been somewhat slower than Americans would like and wages are stagnant due to Republican intransigence, the thing to do now is tell the public that the Great Recession that brought financial ruin to millions of Americans was actually Obama’s fault. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t President at the time. If you are going to lie, might as well lie big.