OPINION: Obama Failed — Not Fixed — America’s Economy

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Derrick Wilburn Contributor
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From U.S. companies repatriating money at a record-setting pace to continually plunging unemployment numbers, more jobs than job seekers and quarterly GDP growth topping four percent, the onslaught of good economic news since Donald Trump took office has been constant.

Yet in an odd twist of irony, this very good news has become bickering fodder rather than bringing us together as one would suppose it should. Grandmas on social media and television talking head pundits alike are slugging it daily out over whose economy this is: President Trump’s or former President Obama’s.

Obama stoked the flames of debate in weeks prior to the 2018 midterms when, while supposedly making campaign speeches for fellow Democrats on November ballots, he made taking credit for today’s robust economic news a recurring talking point in his speeches.

As the former president told a crowd in Las Vegas, “So, by the time I left office, wages were rising, the uninsurance rate was falling, poverty was falling. And that’s what I handed off to the next guy. So, when you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it!”

Obama repeated the rhetoric many times, as have his loyalists sharing their thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. When any positive economic news is cited it’s only a matter of (not much) time before someone chimes in with, “Thanks, Obama!”

This leaves questions of whose policy agenda is more responsible for today’s boom, and to which president does credit truly belong? Sadly for Obama, apologists facts are stubborn things.

Thanks to his ‘T.A.R.P,’ largely ineffective ‘stimulus packages,’ billions of dollars in giveaways to the green energy sector and other spend-happy ways, Barack Obama added about $9 trillion of debt, nearly doubling the United States’ national indebtedness in just eight years.

Former President George W. Bush amassed the most debt-by-dollar amount of any president ever: $4,889,100,310,609. Obama doubled that number. As of 2017, our debt per American worker was around $160,000 per worker. Obama is responsible for $75,000 of that.

On Barack Obama’s watch, America — for the first time ever — had its credit rating downgraded, and Obama owns the distinction of being the only president to fail to see single year GDP growth of 3.0 percent or more during his tenure since GDP statistics began being measured in 1947.

In his eight years, the U.S. economy averaged a paltry growth rate of just 1.48 percent, with 2015’s growth rate of 2.6 percent being his best single year performance. These are not strong numbers.

At the end of his presidency, not the early, “I inherited it from Bush” years, the United States set records for the number of citizens living in poverty. With 95 million Americans not in the workforce upon his leaving office, he left a record-low workforce participation number.

Obama also left us with a record-high number of Americans on food stamps and other federal means-tested welfare programs. The most number of American on welfare ever and the highest percentages on federal welfare since the Great Depression.

As an aside, while all this economic gloom was raining on Obama’s watch his economy also produced record numbers of new billionaires and millionaires in America. The rich got very rich during the Obama years.

These are the easily-verifiable statistical facts of the nation’s economic performance during Barack Obama’s presidency. What those claiming today’s fantastic economic numbers are thanks to Obama would have us believe is that his policies didn’t work while he was in office, they just took another two years after he left office to kick in.

The awful economy and anemic recovery during his eight years in office don’t matter.

Trump campaigned in 2016 claiming that under his guidance the U.S. economy would easily grow at 3% annually and that even 4 percent is attainable. That he’ll bring back jobs, factories in the heartland would reopen, companies that had left for foreign shores would return, coal miners would be going back to work and good times will be here again.

For which then-President Obama infamously mocked him by wondering aloud what magic wand he had. Obama informed us that “some jobs just aren’t coming back” and GDP growth in the 1-percent range is our new normal.

Now that he’s been proven wrong the former president wants to grab at least a part of the credit and his supporters are fully on board with the notion. In the world both they and he live, in everything negative that happened on Obama’s watch is to Bush’s fault everything positive happening on Trump’s watch is to Obama’s credit.

But with history as the judge, it’s tough to connect the dots between Obama’s legacy and today’s short unemployment lines, swelling household net worth and plethora of new “Open for Business” signs on Main Streets across the United States.

Derrick Wilburn is a Centennial Institute Fellow & Founder of Rocky Mountain Conservatives

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.