s we draw towards the end of Obama’s second and final term, the question is now of the legacy in which he will leave for the next individual who will take office. In this particular article, we will focus on the economical aspect of his presidency and the legacy therein.
In order to view Obama’s economic legacy objectively, one must recall the financial inheritance in which he ensued from former President Bush: Obama inherited a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit, a Subprime Mortgage Crisis as well as a Great Recession; nevertheless, he was still capable of achieving credible accomplishments to say the least – notwithstanding the seemingly insurmountable, overwhelming burden left by Bush.
In a fashion that has not gotten enough credit nor publicity, Obama has more than cut his inherited deficit in half – some reports even quoted him stating that he has cut the deficit by two thirds. Atop of that, Obama has an entire résumé of accomplishments: There has been a net creation of 3.5 million private sector jobs under him in comparison to Bush’s net loss of 646,000 jobs in the private sector, initially inheriting an unemployment rate of above 10% and now having it at record levels below 6%, the Dow was under one thousand when President Obama took office, now it is over 18,000, the GDP was -5.4% and now it is 2.8%, the deficit was 9.8% of GDP and now it’s 2.2% of it,the auto industry currently being in a boom in comparison to the recession it was in when he first stepped into office – and these are only his economic achievements.
From all of this information, we can conclude that President Obama was a more economically proficient president than his Republican predecessor. These goals in which he has met and surpassed and his economic legacy which is now in place is idealistic and iconic in many ways – but are by no means perfect, for there are several areas in which his economic agenda has fallen short and the effects therein are destructive, and some even catastrophic.
From the abysmal fact that the majority of new wealth is going to the top 1%, to the stagnancy – if not delineation – of middle class income, to a deceiving imbalance in the types of jobs created, to the evisceration of public sector jobs, to excessive military spending to the advocating of abhorrent free trade deals, it is evident beyond dispute that although Obama has racked up a pile of Economic accomplishments, he still has to answer for his mountain of pitfalls.
A common criticism of Obama’s economic agenda is that much of the wealth gained after the Great Recession has gone to the richest of the rich. According to a study done by Emmanuel Saezfrom the University of California, Berkeley, from 2009-2012 income per family has grown around 6.9% overall; however, the top 1% saw a gain in real income growth by 34.7% whilst the bottom 99% only saw a .8% gain – in other words, the top 1% captured 91% of all real income gains.
Typically, economic pitfalls such as the Great Recession will do a number on the rich, but not in this case. Here, it is evident that the wealthy are striving at the working man’s expense. While the stock market seem to be reaching record highs, wage incomes continue to stagnate – and for some parts of the socioeconomic ladder, decrease. This despairing inequality is a factor in which President Obama has championed and even continued through other means as well; means including continuing Bush’s tax cuts for small businesses (making around 90% of his tax cuts permanent).
From tax cuts to an unequal distribution of income, Obama turning a blind eye to the common man and those not in the top 1% has proved devastating as our educational system crumbles and our infrastructure continues to fall into shambles. The lack of policy and welfare being allocated toward the lower classes and instead toward the wealthy has resulted in over 3 million citizens being added into poverty during his two terms.
Obama often boasts of creating several private sector jobs, but what he does not tell you is how a vast majority of the jobs being created are not at or above a living wage. There is indeed low wage jobs being created, but creating these types of jobs is a lazy solution to the actual problem at play; people not earning enough to make a living.
The only thing these new jobs allow for is for one to work multiple places at once – forcing the possibility of making a living from a single job further into oblivion. The consequences of this are devastating, as a majority of people working multiple low wage jobs are single parents – namely, single moms.
One other thing Obama does not want you to know is of his decrease in jobs available to the public sector. Instead of finding a way to give back to the economy while also investing in infrastructure – plausibly through Green Technology Programs or a New New Deal – Obama has quietly cut over 800,000 public sector jobs with 300,000 of those jobs cut coming from public schooling.
Reagan, Clinton and Bush all saw recessions at the beginning of their first terms as well; nonetheless, they all still managed to increase the public sector substantially, with Bush even adding over one million jobs to the public sector in his first time. Yet Obama finds it in his best interest to cut hundreds of thousands.
Another critique of Obama comes in the form of his defense spending. Initially, he ran for president on the platform of bringing our troops back and of de-militarization; contemporarily, he has continued and perpetuated all of the wars in which he inherited while putting boots on the ground in a few more as well – totaling seven current countries in which American boots lye.
Occupying so many wars is an expensive process, having military funding make up 54% of the Discretionary Spending of 2015 at $598.5 billion, in comparison to $70 billion being allocated towards education, $65.3 billion to Veterans’ Benefits, $63.2 billion to Housing and Community; not to mention the two least funded programs being Transportation and Food and Agriculture.
One final criticism surrounds Obama’s avid support for free trade agreements. Free trade agreements have long been precedent in our economy and society and although it has saved a lot of large corporations a lot of money and made them even more profit, it has also been at the burden of the working man and the number of jobs available to them.
A product of the Kissinger/Nixon duo, permanent relations has been established with China since the 1970’s and since then, 2.7 million jobs have been outsourced there. Back in the 1970’s before several of the manufacturing jobs were outsourced, these types of jobs made up 25% of all jobs –to be lessened to only 9% today.
In the past 16 years alone, over 6 million manufacturing jobs have been outsourced and lost from our economy. All of these loss of jobs stem from Free Trade Deals such as the World Trade Organization (the one aforementioned), NAFTA (which cost us 680,000 jobs since its implementation), and many more. According to the Chamber of Commerce, they report that multinational organizations has laid off 2.9 million American workers just within the last decade .
Recently, Obama has been an avid supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). According to the Economic Policy Institute, 130,000 jobs will be lost to Vietnam and Japan alone, disregarding the 9 other countries involved in the partnership.
As manufacturing jobs are already on the decline, entering this trade deal will ship even more jobs overseas as their workers are much more cheaper and are seen as more valuable to multinational corporations.
In conclusion, Obama has achieved undeniably great deeds, but he also has demons in his closet. As American citizens, it is important to remain aware of these factors as they affect us to a devastating extent and are truly telling of this country’s future as the likely Democratic nominee is of similar, if not the same mold as our current president – regardless of gender.