A new report released on Thursday reaffirms what many of us have known for a long time: President Barack Obama has been really good for the American economy.
According to The 2017 Economic Report of the President, it’s an understatement to say that the economy has improved under the current president. While that may be true, it also understates the dire situation Obama faced when he took office – and just how effective he was in dealing with it.
President Obama didn’t just stop a terrible thing from happening, though. He also turned America into the strongest-positioned economy in the world, which is impressive under any circumstance.
More from the report:
After eight years of recovery, it is easy to forget how close the U.S. economy came to another depression during the crisis. In fact, by a number of macroeconomic measures—including household wealth, employment, and trade flows—the first year of the Great Recession saw declines that were as large as or even substantially larger than at the outset of the Great Depression in 1929-30. However, the forceful policy response by the Obama Administration and partners across the Federal Government—including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and subsequent fiscal actions, the auto industry rescue, a robust monetary policy response, and actions to stabilize the financial sector—combined with the resilience of American businesses and families to help stave off a second Great Depression.
President Obama pulled the country back from the brink of depression and laid the groundwork for growth in a wide range of categories, from employment (which has been cut nearly in half since his inauguration) to growth in wages and real median household income.
As of the third quarter of 2016, the U.S. economy was 11.5 percent larger than its peak before the crisis. The economy has added 14.8 million jobs over 74 months, the longest streak of total job growth on record. Since early 2010, U.S. businesses have added 15.6 million jobs. Real wage growth has been faster in the current business cycle than in any since the early 1970s, and wage growth has accelerated in recent years. The combination of strong employment and wage growth has led to rising incomes for American families. From 2014 to 2015, real median household income grew by 5.2 percent, the fastest annual growth on record, and the United States saw its largest one-year drop in the poverty rate since the 1960s.
While the report notes that some long-term trends pre-dating the economic crisis are still evident today, the country has managed to make some progress under Obama when it comes to reducing inequality thanks to the administration’s tax and health care policies.
Together, changes in tax policy and the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase the share of after-tax income received by the bottom quintile of households in 2017 by 18 percent—equivalent to more than a decade of average income gains—and the share received by the second quintile by 6 percent. At the same time, these actions will reduce the share received by the top 1 percent by 7 percent. Tax changes enacted since 2009 have boosted the share of after-tax income received by the bottom 99 percent of families by more than the tax changes of any previous administration since at least 1960, and President Obama has overseen the largest increase in Federal investment to reduce inequality since the Great Society programs of the Johnson Administration.
There are always problems in need of solutions, particularly when it comes to reducing economic inequality and ensuring more people have good jobs with higher wages. But Republicans who continue to assert that President Obama’s policies have destroyed jobs and undermined our democracy simply aren’t being honest.
Not only did President Obama prevent a full-on economic collapse after taking office, but he also laid the groundwork for sustained growth. His economic record is one that should be celebrated by all Americans – after all, who doesn’t want more people to have jobs, higher paychecks, and better access to health care?
When Donald Trump takes office next month, he will be inheriting a country in much better shape than when the current president took office in 2009. For that, he should be saying, “Thanks, Obama.”
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.