July 31, 2014

Writers at the Hill Give ‘Obama Pivots to Economic Legacy’ Credibility

This post is not about an item in The Onion. It’s about a supposedly serious establishment press story at the Hill.

This morning, Amie Parnes and Peter Schroeder covered the Obama administration’s apparent plan to pivot to the economy for the umpteenth time. But this time, Obama and his apparatchiks aren’t doing it because they think they need to convince people that things are getting better. No-no-no. They’re declaring victory, “tying his legacy” to Obama’s apparently wondrous stewardhip of the economy. In the words of the Hill pair, they are “seizing on the administration’s successes in boosting the nation during financial woes.” Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

Obama pivots to economic legacy

ParnesAndSchroederTheHill2014

President Obama is tying his legacy to a growing economy, seizing on the administration’s successes in boosting the nation during financial woes.

Bolstered by a string of positive economic reports, the administration hopes it can increase Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate this fall by highlighting Obama’s stewardship of the economy.

More broadly, the White House hopes to ride the wave of an economic recovery to improve Obama’s approval numbers over the final two years of his presidency, setting up a possible Democratic successor at the White House.

“It’s the best possible legacy item,” said one former senior administration official. “The elections in 2008 and 2012 were all about the economy and if the nation could bounce back after such terrible times. And look, it shows that, not only did we bounce back, but things are going to an even better place, one where a potential predecessor could build a foundation.”

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter. The report also included revised figures for 2013 that showed much stronger growth at the end of last year.

In the final three months of 2013, the economy expanded at a 3.5 percent rate, up from the previous estimate of 2.6 percent. And in the third quarter, growth was revised to 4.5 percent from 4.1 percent.

Hours after the report was released, Obama adopted a confident and fiery tone while making remarks on the economy.

… Republicans argue the country is experiencing the slowest economic recovery since a recession on record, and they say Obama’s White House is to blame.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, doubled over with laughter when asked about the president’s legacy on the economy.

Let’s take the second-last bolded item in the excerpt.

Parnes and Schroeder employ the classic “Republicans say” method of assignment when the statement Republicans are making is the unqualified truth. The Hill reporters are doing this to minimize the ugly truth’s impact.

It doesn’t matter who “argues” it. The fact is that no other post-downturn economy since World War II has taken as long to get back to where it was:

RevisedIBDgraphicOfRecessionRecoveryTimes073014

And it isn’t because of the “deep hole” they inherited. (The truth is they worked mightily to make the hole as deep as possible so they could look like heroes when things got better — only things never really got much better.) The Great Depression’s hole was over five times deeper, and the New Deal, for all of its considerable shortcomings, at least got GDP back to where is was in late 1929 by 1937, four years after the Depression ended. At the pace of the Obama eonomy’s recovery, it would have taken about a deade.

In a column posted elsewhere today (“The Depression-Era 1930s—1, The Obama ‘Recovery’—Ø”), I also pointed out that this economy’s post-recovery economic growth is the worst not only since the Great Depression of the 1930s, but including the Depression.

Specifically:

… in every other economic recovery (except in the Obama and Great Depression economies), GDP was at least 10 percent larger than its pre-downturn peak 16 quarters later (or fewer, in several instances when an earlier subsequent recession occurred). The Obama economy … has achieved less than half of that (at 4.1 percent), and now comes in worse than the 1930s (at 4.3 percent).

Don’t rule out the idea that Obama and his apparatchiks might be successful in selling their “legacy” fantasy. How many people still believe, despite the awful numbers and Amity Schlaes’ exhaustive research, the fiction that FDR heriocally pulled the country out of the Depression, when the fact is that he lengthened its impact for another eight years, and would have kept the economy in utter misery indefinitely if World War II hadn’t forced him to abandon his socialist efforts in the name of getting the country moving again?

As Rush noted on his show today, even the Associated Press, in a report I covered here earlier today which still failed to properly note the origins of the growth in part-time woek, carried contrarian information about the quality of the economic recovery today. But Amie Parnes and Peter Schroeder just let the claims of Dear Leader and his minions slide right on by as if they’re the truth, and only hardened oppoenents would dispute. How disgraceful.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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