A Memory Like an Elephant
We’ve Come a Long Way Since 2009
Next week, President Obama will give his final State of the Union address to the nation. It’s worth looking back to see how far we’ve come since the President’s inaugural address just seven years ago, where he said this:
The American people answered the call, and under the President’s leadership, we’ve come roaring back.
We went from losing 800,000 jobs per month when George W. Bush left office to 69 consecutive months of private-sector job growth.
When he took office, President Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion budget deficit — 9.8% of GDP. Today, thanks to the President’s leadership in the face of Republican obstruction and GOP government shutdowns, the deficit is $439 billion — a reduction of over two-thirds and only 2.8% of GDP.
The Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, but before the law took effect, the uninsured rate was climbing steadily and too many Americans often had to choose between bankruptcy and getting the health care they needed. After the passage of the ACA, the uninsured rate hit its lowest level ever recorded and health spending grew at the slowest rate in 50 years.
But don’t just take our word for it — look at some of the coverage just this week:
From Politico’s “Everything is (Even More) Awesome”
Unemployment has dropped from 10 percent during the worst of the Great Recession to 5 percent today, thanks to a record 69 consecutive months of private-sector employment growth that has produced 13.7 million new jobs. The past two years have been the best two years for job creation in the 21st century. After a near-death experience during the financial meltdown of 2008, the U.S. auto industry enjoyed record sales in 2015. The housing market has also rebounded from the crisis, and after-tax corporate profits are at an all-time high. It can sound partisan to mention those facts when a Democrat is in the White House, but they’re facts…
Gas is barely $2 a gallon. About 17 million uninsured Americans have gotten coverage in the past few years. The federal deficit has plunged from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to under $500 billion, while the dollar has gained strength against foreign currencies.
In non-economic news, despite a year of furor over mass shootings and urban unrest, crime in big cities dropped about 5 percent in 2015, and has been cut in half since 1990. The teen birth rate is down more than 60 percent since 1990, and that’s not because of increasing abortions, because they’ve fallen by more than a third. U.S. oil imports are at their lowest level in nearly three decades, while wind generation is up more than threefold and solar generation is up 25-fold since 2008. Carbon emissions have dropped 10 percent from 2005 levels. High school graduation rates are at an all-time high, with the most striking gains for minorities and the poor. The financial sector is much safer, with much more capital to absorb banking losses, much less of the risky overnight funding that fuels panics, and much broader regulation of Wall Street institutions that once operated in the shadows. And despite all the rhetoric about border crises and wall-building, America’s population of undocumented immigrants has remained stable for the past five years.
From the Washington Post’s “U.S. car sales hit record high in 2015”
Drivers in the United States bought more cars last year than ever before, a staggering turnaround for an auto industry fighting for its life half a decade ago, as low gas prices and a strengthening economy marked a banner year on American roads.
The record-setting year has squashed recession-era worries that the industry would never recover and given fuel to the Obama administration’s argument that the auto bailout helped carmakers survive.
From the New York Times’s “Avoiding the Dreadful ‘Second-Term Curse’”
Mr. Obama has overseen shrinking unemployment, a reduction in the proportion of Americans without health insurance and diplomatic breakthroughs on trade, climate policy, relations with Cuba and Iran’s nuclear program.
Republicans are now more likely to denounce his ideology and use of executive power than his competence. “Unfortunately, I think he has been successful at achieving his agenda,” Senator Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, lamented recently.
Former Representative Vin Weber, a Republican who came to power in Ronald Reagan’s landslide in 1980, said: “It’s very hard for Republicans to acknowledge that. But you can’t deny the successes.”
Furthermore, President Obama’s second-to-last year in office has been chock-full of accomplishments.
From historic international agreements curbing climate change and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, to record job growth and a record fall in the uninsured rate, to the Supreme Court upholding both the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality for all — this has been a remarkable year.
Vox called President Obama’s “rather successful” second-to-last year one of the best in history.
Huffington Post said that President Obama’s second term “could be the most consequential in recent memory,” but it hinges on electing a Democrat to succeed him.
It’s true — the President has no more campaigns to run (he knows because he won both of them).
But we’ve come too far to let the Republicans drag us back to where we were in 2008 — losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, health care costs and the uninsured rate rising relentlessly, and neighborhoods littered with foreclosure signs.
To hear the Republicans running for President, you’d think the country was going to hell in a handbasket and that the last month of George W. Bush’s presidency was some kind of golden era. Well we’ve got a memory like an elephant, and we’re going to keep holding them accountable. They can be pessimists all they want — we know America is already great, and we have faith in the American people. We’re going to keep moving America forward by keeping the White House in Democratic hands.