Obama vs. Reagan Economy
Normally a President at the start of his fourth year would be running on his record, accentuating the legislation he's passed. Mr. Obama can't do that with any specificity because the economic recovery has been so weak and the legislation he has passed is so unpopular. So last night he took credit for the shale gas revolution he had nothing to do with and proposed new policies to "spread the wealth around," as he famously told Joe the Plumber in 2008 before he took the words back. We thought he meant it then, and now he's admitting it.
...The President inherited a deep recession, but in political terms that should have been a blessing. History shows that the deeper the recession, the sharper the recovery, and Mr. Obama was poised to take credit for the economy's natural recuperative powers. Instead, we've had the weakest recovery since the Great Depression and stubbornly high joblessness.
The nearby chart compares rates of quarterly growth during the Reagan and Obama economic recoveries. The comparison is apt because both recoveries followed deep recessions in which the jobless rate reached more than 10%. Once the Reagan recovery got cooking, in 1983, growth stayed above 5% for 18 months and never fell below 3.3% for 13 consecutive quarters.
In the Obama recovery, growth has never exceeded 4% in any quarter and fell off markedly in mid-2010 through the third quarter of 2011. For the first nine months of 2011, growth averaged less than 1.2%. The economy finally picked up again in the fourth quarter, but still at a rate that is subpar for a recovery that long ago should have become robust and durable.
The Pelosi Congress also passed ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, cash for clunkers, the housing tax credit, and much more. The only Obama priority it didn't pass was cap-and-trade, which was killed by Senate Democrats.
Mr. Obama's regulators also currently have some 149 major rules underway, which are those that cost more than $100 million. The 112th Congress hasn't been able to kill a single major rule. The most it has been able to do is extend the Bush tax rates—which helped the economy by avoiding a tax shock—and slow the rate of increase in federal spending. This President has been "obstructed" less than anyone since LBJ.
Obstruction? Hardly. Big-time failure? Yup.