Opinion Columns & Blogs

A look back

We’ve come a long way baby. We’ve experienced dramatic rebound since the Great Recession of 2008/2009. “U.S. Economy Finishing Strong” in the Dec. 25 issue of the Fresno Bee says it all. Gas prices have gone from $4.10 per gallon to $2.30 per gallon ( http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/). Sarah Palin called Obama the $4 per gallon President. Is she going to call him the $2 per gallon President now? Don’t hold your breath.

We are in a hiring boom. Unemployment went from 10% to 5.8%. Critics like Jack Welch, legendary former CEO of General Electric, claimed the administration cooked the books when unemployment fell to 7.8% in 2012. Even though by his own admission, he had no evidence, that message spread like wildfire in conservative circles.

When unemployment continued to fall the criticism morphed to low wage jobs. It is true but you have to walk before you run. They ignored the fact that in recessionary recoveries that is the typical pattern. Today, more of the employment is in manufacturing, housing and other professional level higher pay jobs.

Oil prices are plunging from $115/bbl to $55/bbl. It not only reduced gas prices but will save customers nearly $800 on their oil heating bills.

All this resulted from the surplus created as a result of drilling and fracking expansion contrary to the GOP message that regulations are stifling energy independence. This is not an endorsement of this activity by any means. In the long run it will be more costly. The savings in gas and heating oil will quickly be eroded by the external costs associated with its use. That would include property and infrastructure damage as we’ve seen from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and mudslides. Food supplies will diminish and security threats will increase. Health related issues continue to rise. Stocks and high net worth are repeatedly setting new highs. Again, not an endorsement but great for corporations and the 1%, so why is there so much GOP dissatisfaction when their donor base is benefiting wildly? With them enough is never enough. The deficit has been cut by two thirds from $1.4 trillion to $483 billion. This chart says it all:


Obama Bush
2015*: $564 2009†: $1,413
2014: $483 2008: $458
2013: $680 2007: $161
2012: $1,087 2006: $248
2011: $1,300 2005: $318
2010: $1,294

(Year listed is fiscal year and dollar amounts are in billions)

Some people have emailed to insist that the FY 2009 deficit should be assigned to Obama. But conventional wisdom maintains that the deficits in the first years of a president’s first term belongs to his predecessor.

What this illustrates and corroborates is that Democrats reduce deficits and creates surpluses while Republicans increase deficits and destroys surpluses. Kansas Governor Brown back in his Great Experiment of tax cuts, spending cuts and deregulation implemented a Romneyesque economic policy had Romney become President and turned a $709 million surplus to a projected 2015 $28 million surplus. G.W. Bush turned a $280 billion Clinton surplus to a $1.4 trillion deficit (actually more, see graph).

It’s the economy stupid, an expression coined by Clinton strategist James Carville. Just as “man does not live on bread alone” neither does our nation live on the economy alone. Too many other achievements are being overlooked and taken for granted. They are so extensive I can only summarize the areas where executive actions have protected us and improved our lives:

Returned the executive branch to fiscal responsibility - Prevented a Bush depression and improved the economy - Brought much-improved transparency and better government - Wall street reforms and consumer protection - Enhanced civil rights and anti-discrimination - A more realistic approach to “defense” and national security - Returned government to treating soldiers and veterans with dignity and respect - Refocused the federal government on education, made rational reforms - Adult view on science, technology and health care - Strengthened the middle class and families, and fought poverty - Concrete steps to improve the environment and address our energy needs.

These categories encompass 276 explicit actions which are listed and fully referenced in the website.

If you can get beyond the blunt domain name, you will be surprised at what you will learn. Is Obama the best president ever, hardly? Is he the worst, give me a break? You’ve got two more years of Obama. Best president is still up for grabs – no more caving in to the GOP and unethical moneyed interests.