Right-wing media figures are marking today's 1,000th day of the Obama administration by using a 2009 comment by President Obama to reinforce the right-wing talking point that he has failed to improve the economy. This latest right-wing attempt against Obama continues a historic campaign to bring down his administration; however, economic experts agree that the economy would be much worse without Obama administration policies.
Obama In 2009: "I Will Be Held Accountable" For The Economy
Obama: "If I Don't Have This Done In Three Years, Then There's Going To Be A One-Term Proposition." During a February 2009 appearance on NBC's Today Show, President Obama discussed the economy and said, "I will be held accountable." He added:
OBAMA: If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition. [NBC News, 2/2/09, via the Chicago Tribune's Swamp blog]
Fox Uses 1,000th Day To Continue Campaign Against Obama
Fox News: "Pres Obama To Mark 1000 Days In Office W/ 9.1% Jobless Rate." During the October 13 edition of Fox News' America Live, the following graphic appeared on screen:
[Fox News, America Live, 10/13/11]
The Recession Obama Inherited Proved Deeper Than Economists Estimated
January 2009: Bureau Of Economic Analysis Estimated Economy Shrank By 3.8 Percent At The End Of 2008. In January 2009, just as Obama was taking office, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its preliminary estimate of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2008. BEA estimated that the economy contracted by 3.8 percent in that quarter. [Bureau of Economic Analysis, 1/30/09]
February 2009: Obama Signed Stimulus Bill. On February 17, 2009, Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. [WhiteHouse.gov, 2/17/09]
March 2009: BEA Revised Estimate Showed Economy Shrinking By 6.3 Percent At The End Of 2008 -- Nearly Twice As Much As Previously Thought. In March 2009, BEA released revised figures, estimating that the economy declined by 6.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008 -- nearly twice as much as initially estimated. [Bureau of Economic Analysis, 3/26/09]
August 2011: BEA Revised Estimate Showed Economy Shrinking By 8.9 Percent At The End Of 2008. In August 2011, BEA issued revised estimates of the economy in 2008 that showed gross domestic product contracting by 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter. [Bureau of Economic Analysis, 8/26/11]
The Economist: Revised Numbers Reveal "Shocking" Fall In GDP At The End Of 2008. The Economist reported on BEA's revised numbers, calling the new data "shocking":
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised its numbers back through the recession, revealing a downturn more serious than previously understood. The BEA's first estimate of output in the fourth quarter of 2008, published in January of 2009, showed a contraction of 3.8%, later revised to a 6.8% drop. The new numbers change the figure yet again, to a shocking 8.9% fall in GDP. For 2009 as a whole, the American economy shrank by 3.5% rather than the previously reported 2.6%. [The Economist, 8/6/11]
McClatchy: "The Great Recession, Already The Worst Downturn Since The 1930s, Was Even More Damaging Than Previously Recognized." On July 29, McClatchy reported on revisions BEA released to its estimates of the economy from 2008-2010, writing:
The revision found that in 2008 the economy actually contracted rather than eking out a tiny gain as initially reported, and 2009 growth was almost a full percentage point slower than estimated earlier.
The quarterly percentage change in real gross domestic product was revised down for six of the 12 quarters reviewed. That means the Great Recession, already the worst downturn since the 1930s, was even more damaging [than] previously recognized. [McClatchy, 7/29/11]
IHS Global Insight: Economic Contraction In 2008 Was "The Worst Single-Quarter Decline In GDP Since ... 1958." A report on the revised GDP figures from global information company, IHS Global Insight, noted:
The fourth quarter of 2008, right after the Lehman failure, now shows an 8.9% annual rate of decline in GDP (previously 6.8%), and now represents the worst single-quarter decline in GDP since the 10.4% drop in the first quarter of 1958, exceeding the 7.9% decline in the second quarter of 1980. The revisions then made the initial rebound a bit faster (with growth running just below 4% in the first and second quarters of 2010), but then showed the recovery losing momentum over the second half of 2010 and tailing away to just 0.4% in the first quarter of 2011 (previously 1.9%) and 1.3% in the second. Although the second quarter was disappointing, the revisions mean that it actually shows stronger growth than the first. [IHS Global Insight, 7/29/11]
AP: "The 2007-2009 Recession ... Was Even Worse Than Previously Thought." The Associated Press reported:
The 2007-2009 recession, already in the record books as the worst in the 66 years since the end of World War II, was even worse than previously thought.
From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent.
The new estimates emerged from the annual revision of economic data prepared by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis and released Friday.
Among the previous 10 postwar recessions, output in only two dropped by more 3 percent. In the 1957-58 recession, the economy contracted 3.7 percent. And during the 1973-1975 downturn, the economy fell 3.2 percent from the start of the recession to the end. [Associated Press, 7/29/11]
Despite Recession, Right-Wing Media Leaders Made It Clear They Hoped For Obama's Failure
Limbaugh: "I Hope Obama Fails." On the January 16, 2009, edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that he had received a request from "a major American print publication" to write 400 words about his hope for the Obama presidency. Limbaugh explained his "hope" on the air:
LIMBAUGH: So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, "So, OK, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails."
Well, what are you laughing at? See, now, here's the point. Everybody thinks it's outrageous to say. I mean, look it, even my staff, "Oh, you can't do that. You --" Why not? Why is it any different, what's new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it?
I don't care what the drive-by story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: "Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails." Somebody's gotta say it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/16/09, via YouTube]
Ailes: "I See This As The Alamo." In a 2009 Los Angeles Times profile of Glenn Beck, Beck recounted a meeting he had with Fox News president Roger Ailes, during which he said Ailes "shared a message of his own: The country faced tough times, he said, and Fox News was one of the only news outlets willing to challenge the new administration." From the article:
"I wanted to meet with Roger and tell him, 'You may not want to put me on the air. I believe we are in dire trouble, and I will never shut up,' " said the conservative radio host.
But before Beck could say anything, Ailes shared a message of his own: The country faced tough times, he said, and Fox News was one of the only news outlets willing to challenge the new administration.
"I see this as the Alamo," Ailes said, according to Beck. "If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we'd be fine."
That couldn't have suited Beck more. In making the jump to the top-rated cable news channel from HLN, where he had a show for two years, he hoped to alert more people to one of his consuming fears: that the government's handling of the economic crisis is ushering in an era of socialism. [Los Angeles Times, 3/6/09]
GOP Stood In "Nearly Unanimous Opposition" To Stimulus
NY Times: "Not A Single Republican In The House Voted For The Bill." A February 18, 2009, New York Times article reported:
President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill into law on Tuesday as leaders of both parties moved to position themselves for a political battle over who was responsible for the economy's problems and whether the legislation was the solution.
Even as Mr. Obama was signing the bill, Republicans were denouncing it as a waste of money. They asserted that it would not turn the economy around and that they were unified in ''disagreement with Congressional Democrats and President Obama,'' in the words of Michael Steele, the Republican national chairman.
The division between the two parties over the bill's political repercussions was almost as stark as that over its substance. Leaders of the Democratic Senate and House campaign committees said in interviews that they would try to ensure that Republicans paid a price in 2010 for having opposed the measure. Not a single Republican in the House voted for the bill, and only three Republicans backed it in the Senate.
In the meantime, Republicans argued, their nearly unanimous opposition to the bill has helped them reconnect with their identity as a party of limited government after years of what even Mr. Steele described as excessive spending under President George W. Bush. [The New York Times, 2/18/09]
Economic Experts Have Said The Bill Lowered Unemployment And Boosted GDP
CBO: Economic Stimulus Increased Employment By Over 1 Million Jobs. An August 2011 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act "[l]owered the unemployment rate by between 0.5 percentage points and 1.6 percentage points" and that the recovery bill "[i]ncreased the number of people employed by between 1.0 million and 2.9 million" during the second quarter. [Congressional Budget Office, 8/24/2011]
CBO: Economic Stimulus Raised GDP. The same CBO report estimated that the recovery act "raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.8 percent and 2.5 percent." [Congressional Budget Office, 8/24/2011]
Private Analysts Estimated Stimulus Increased GDP By 1.8 To 2.7 Percent. In its seventh quarterly report on ARRA, the president's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) estimated that the stimulus "has raised the level of GDP as of the first quarter of 2011, relative to what it otherwise would have been, by between 2.3 and 3.2 percent." CEA also provided a chart showing that private analysts estimate that the stimulus boosted GDP between 1.8 and 2.7 percent:
[Council of Economic Advisers, 7/1/11]
Private Analysts Estimated Stimulus Increased Employment By 2.4 To 2.5 Million. In its report, the CEA provided the following chart showing that private forecasters estimate that as of the first quarter of 2011, the stimulus increased employment between 2.4 and 2.5 million: