Meet The Press, Economic Experts Diverge On "Obama's Economic Record"


NBC Meet The Press moderator David Gregory and a Meet the Press graphic suggested that President Obama's economic record consists of higher unemployment, debt, and gas prices. However, Obama's economic policy raised employment; the debt increase is largely due to Bush-era policies, as well as the economic downturn; and experts say it's "not credible" to blame Obama for gas prices.

Meet The Press: "Obama's Economic Record" Is Higher Unemployment, Debt, Gas Prices ...

Gregory Suggested "Democratic Governance" To Blame For Increases In Unemployment, Debt, And Gas Prices. On the June 12 edition of NBC's Meet The Press, David Gregory stated:

GREGORY: This is the president's standing in terms of handling the economy in the public's eye, and it's pretty negative right now -- 60 percent almost. Fifty-nine percent disapprove of the president's handling of the economy. And there are facts that back that up that are difficult for this administration and for the Democrats: Unemployment's up 25 percent since Inauguration Day for President Obama; the debt's up 35 percent, over $14 trillion; a gallon of gas up over 100 percent, with gas 3.75, higher than that in certain parts of the country.

Why should Americans trust Democratic governance right now on the economy, and, particularly, the president's? [NBC, Meet The Press, 6/12/11]

MTP Graphic Identified "President Obama's Economic Record" As Those Increases. As Gregory spoke, Meet the Press showed the following graphic:

[NBC, Meet The Press, 6/12/11]

... But Obama's Economic Policy Raised Employment

Independent And Private Analysts: Stimulus Significantly Raised Employment. Analysts have confirmed that the stimulus significantly raised employment. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the stimulus increased the number of people employed, as of the second quarter of FY2010, by "between 1.4 million and 3.3 million." Moody's estimated that the stimulus would create 1.9 million jobs by 2010. [Media Matters, 9/26/10]

Economists: "The Effects Of The Fiscal Stimulus" On Economy "Appear Very Substantial." Economists have also agreed that the stimulus was effective. A March 2010 study in The Wall Street Journal found that 70 percent of economists surveyed said the stimulus "boosted growth and mitigated job losses." ABC News reported on February 18, 2010, that most of the economists on its panel thought the economy "would be worse today without the big aid package." And a February 2010 survey of 203 members of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) found that "[e]ighty-three percent believe that GDP is currently higher than it would have been without the 2009 stimulus package (ARRA)." [Media Matters, 9/26/10]

... Analyses Show Debt Is Largely Due To Bush-Era Policies, Economic Downturn

Wash. Post Graphic Points To Bush Tax Cuts, Iraq And Afghanistan Wars As Main Reasons For Deficit. From a June 4 post on The Washington Post blog PostPolitics:

In the debate over the nation's rising debt, rhetoric trumps reality. In January 2001, the U.S. budget was balanced for the first time in decades and the Congressional Budget Office was forecasting surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion by 2011. A decade later, the national debt is larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any time in U.S. history except for the period shortly after World War II.


In fact, 75 percent of the members currently serving in Congress voted for at least one -- and in most cases more than one -- of three policies that contributed to fully one-third of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt: President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill.

The post included the following graphic to illustrate CBO's estimates on how much former President Bush's tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 2009 stimulus contributed to the current debt:

[The Washington Post, 6/4/11]

CBPP: "[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years" Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an analysis of federal deficits in December 2009, which was updated on May 10, 2011, titled, "Economic Downturn and Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits." The report noted:

Some lawmakers, pundits, and others continue to say that President George W. Bush's policies did not drive the projected federal deficits of the coming decade -- that, instead, it was the policies of President Obama and Congress in 2009 and 2010. But, the fact remains: the economic downturn, President Bush's tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years (see Figure 1).

The report also graphed the effects of Bush's policies and the economic downturn on the deficit. From the report:

[, updated 5/10/11]

... And Experts Say It's "Not Credible" To Blame Obama For Gas Prices

Chris Lafakis: "Absolutely No Merit To This Viewpoint Whatsoever." Chris Lafakis, economist at Moody's Analytics and expert in energy markets, told Media Matters via email:

I received your question about whether or not federal drilling policies are responsible for the current rise in gas prices. There is absolutely no merit to this viewpoint whatsoever. Near-term fluctuations in gasoline prices are determined by two primary factors: crude oil prices and seasonality. Since the deepwater drilling delay applies only to exploration and production, it would take years, maybe a decade to get any amount of crude oil out of the ground and into our gas tanks. In the meantime, global crude oil supply is exactly the same as it would have been if the government were giving away permits like candy.

Currently, crude oil prices have jumped $15 since the civil war broke out in Libya. This rise in crude oil prices underpins all of the recent increase in gasoline prices. [Email to Media Matters, 3/14/11]

Michael Canes: "Not Credible To Blame The Obama Administration's Drilling Policies For Today's High Prices." While noting that he disagrees with the Obama administration's policies on oil and gas drilling, Michael Canes, research fellow at the Logistics Management Institute and former chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute, told Media Matters via email that it is "not credible" to blame Obama's policies for the high gas prices:

It's not credible to blame the Obama Administration's drilling policies for today's high prices because of the relative scales involved. As I indicated the last time, world oil prices are determined in a market of around 85 million barrels per day of production and consumption, while the consequences of domestic drilling, particularly in the Gulf, likely would be more in the range of several hundred thousand to one million barrels per day, and most of that production would not occur for a number of years. [Email to Media Matters, 3/10/11]

Lou Crandall: "Gasoline Prices At The Pump Would Be Higher" Even If U.S. Had Increased Drilling. Lou Crandall, chief economist of Wrightson ICAP LLC, an independent research firm that analyzes high-frequency economic data, told Media Matters via email:

Higher oil prices today are a global phenomenon, and the additional supply from increased drilling by the U.S. would not alter the global balance of supply and demand greatly. Gasoline prices at the pump would be higher either way. The only difference is that a somewhat larger share of the revenue would accrue to domestic interests (governmental and private) rather than to foreign suppliers. [Email to Media Matters, 3/14/11]

Wally Tyner: High Gas Prices Are A Result Of World Demand, Unrest In Libya -- Not Obama's Drilling Policies. When asked if there is "any merit to the claim that Obama's drilling policies caused the high gas prices we're seeing," Wally Tyner, energy economist at Purdue University, said: "No. It would take years for increased drilling to have an impact. And most of the oil that remains off the US shores is in deep water and high cost." Tyner added:

The biggest factor is the rapid growth in world demand, especially India and China. Over the past decade, about a third of the global growth in world demand has come from China alone.

Currently with most of the exports from Libya down, that is causing prices to be higher. However, Saudi Arabia has indicated they will pick up the slack, but that will take a while to work through the system. Saudi oil is sour crude, and Libya produces sweet crude mostly destined for European refineries that cannot generally take sour crude. [Email to Media Matters, 3/14/11]

Tom O'Donnell: "The Amount Of Extra Oil That The U.S. Would Produce" Would Have "Almost Insignificant" Effect On Prices. Tom O'Donnell, professor of Graduate International Affairs at The New School and expert on the globalized energy sector, said blaming the high gas prices on the administration's drilling policy mistakes correlation for causation. O'Donnell further stated:

Even if you gave permission to drill, it might take generally about seven years for oil to get to market. So that has absolutely no effect on the price of oil today. None whatsoever. The amount of extra oil that the U.S. would produce, as far as affecting the world price of oil, is almost insignificant.

People who say producing more oil will bring price down for Americans are missing the fact that it's a world market. For instance, oil produced in North Slope may very well go to Japan. There's not a separate market -- it's a world market. [Phone conversation with Media Matters, 3/14/11]

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