Thursday, November 1, 2012

Slow recovery--but what else is new?

I'm going to take a break from the hurricane to focus on a criticism labeled at our President--that the recovery is our slowest ever.
And then I will assume that the person making this assertion means "since the 1950s."
One of the advantages of attending high schools based in three different states is that one never studies US history the same way.  When I was homeschooling through a program based out of Nebraska, I learned about the other side of FDR and the New Deal.  Now, the version of history most people learn is, "Stock market crashed in 1929, FDR became President in 1932, instituted the New Deal, and 'Happy Days Are Here Again'..."
Not quite.
If you look at Roosevelt's legacy at the end of his first term, you'll find that by 1936, he hadn't been that effective.  Most of his New Deal programs had been ruled unconstitutional by a reactionary and pro-business Supreme Court.  Roosevelt was so disgusted that he began referring to the Court as the "nine Old men," and vowed to add six Supreme Court justices that would be more sympathetic to his Keynesian ideals.  This almost cost him the election.
The fact is, we cannot get out of a deep economic hole overnight.  This has been the product of decades--not years, but decades--of bad decisions.  Even before the 2007 crash, the economy wasn't doing that well.  A housing bubble and concomitant job shortage meant that people in their twenties were shut out of the housing market--and this was in 2003.  Easy credit in the 90s and early 2000s meant that the baby boomlet--the people now in their thirties, who should be the backbone of the economy--are in debt over their heads.  When I finished college, there were people with BA degrees working at Target and Starbucks--and that was over a decade ago.  Cuts in education funding mean that a high school diploma is no guarantee of functional literacy.
What has Obama done?
His stimulus programs in 2009 floated money to the middle classes--which stimulated some growth in an economy that was flatlining.  His GM bailout was structured so that the funds would go to reopening plants rather than CEO bonuses--unlike the 2008 TARP bailouts, which he had nothing to do with (he had not taken the office of President when it was signed, and he had already resigned his Senate seat).  His policies on helping former students get out from under their student loans have helped lower the amount of personal debt that many now carry.
Are we back to normal?  No.  Is it a start?  Yes.  Could we have expected more?  Possibly.  Can Romney do better?  I doubt it.
Tifrosh Min Hatzibur endorses Obama for President in 2012.

1 comment:

  1. All I can say is - you must be even more isolated in your neighborhood than I am in mine.


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