Sunday, January 20, 2013

Congratulations Mr. President

President Obama took the oath of office today for his second term. Congratulations!

I snapped the above picture this past weekend when I was traveling. I know there are some who believe this to be true - that all of their hardships began in 2008, when President Obama took office.

I am not one of them. I remember what the economy was doing in 2007. President Obama may not be doing the things I want that I think would make things better (which involves more government spending, not less), but he has made some movement forward. He inherited many problems.

Here are some of the highlights of President George W. Bush's last year in office:

In 2007, three million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. This mortgage crisis in turn led to loss of jobs in the construction sector (see picture above). Other industries followed suit, including furniture (building and retail), real estate companies, mortgage companies, and banks.

The U.S. dollar decreased in value to its lowest levels since 1976.

The war in Iraq cost the US trillions (that is where the deficit came from, in case you have forgotten). The war forced up food and gas prices and took away resources that would otherwise have been used in the United States. Additionally, the governments (local, state, and federal) took to raising fees on this and that to make up for lost revenue, a kind of stealth tax that has eaten away at the middle class.

The unregulated banking industry led to deceitful banking practices that cost citizens money in fines and fees as well as their homes. Banks took predatory lending to new heights. As a result, many Americans lost their savings as well as their good credit.

The war on immigrants, lead by Bush, also added to the cost of food because farmers could not afford to pay someone else to do what the immigrants did.

Unemployment rose to new levels.

The middle class took a huge hit and the disparity between rich and poor grew larger.

That is what it looked like when President Obama took office.

Things are looking better. The stimulus did what it was supposed to - it wasn't meant to be a magic bullet - and the unemployment numbers are lower now than they have been in several years.

Here is a list of some of the things President Obama did for the economy in his first four years:

Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) US auto industry rescue
housing rescue plan
$789 billion economic stimulus plan (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), which saved jobs of police officers, teachers, firefighters, etc.
“Cash for Clunkers” program
“jobs summit” in 2009
The FDIC increased deposit insurance for a few years 
Loans for small businesses
Signed Jobs for Main Street Act
Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act
Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act
US Manufacturing Enhancement Act
Small Business Jobs Act
Extended unemployment benefits for one million workers

Wall Street reform bill
Agricultural credit to farmers
Funding for federal support of transportation programs

Cut payroll taxes for working families
Incentives to hire the unemployed
Reform unemployment insurance

There are many others. He has not been a "do nothing" president and while there is always more to do, and other ways to do things, at least he has not been sitting around.

Happy Inauguration Day, Mr. President.

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