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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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No, Obama Didn't Prevent the Next Great Depression Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, April 28 2016
Since the end of the recession all the way back in June 2009, America has endured the worst cyclical post-recession "recovery" in recorded U.S. history.

"Saving the economy from a great depression." 

That was Barack Obama's response when asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace to identify his "biggest accomplishment." 

In Obama's defense, it's not as though he enjoys a Reaganesque litany of accomplishments from which to choose - winning the Cold War, reversing a decade of economic stagnation, restoring America's sense of pride and optimism, etc.  With no significant part of the world better off today than when Obama entered office, any "accomplishment" he selected was going to be a stretch. 

Nevertheless, it's simply not true that Obama saved the economy from the next great depression. 

Quite the contrary, the federal government's own economic data shows that Obama actually inherited an emerging recovery.  The American economy was already rebounding before he even officially became president.  What he has done is impose policies that have resulted in the slowest decade of economic growth in recorded U.S. history. 

First, let's dispose of a myth regarding the last recession that Obama and his apologists regularly repeat.  Namely, that it was the greatest recession since the Great Depression itself.  They make that claim because doing so helps falsely aggrandize a president with so few achievements over his eight years.  But the truth is that the early 1980s recession slain by Ronald Reagan was substantially worse. 

Whereas inflation during the last recession remained in the 2% range or lower, it reached sustained levels of 14% during the early '80s.  That alone created enormous headwinds in reviving the economy that Obama did not suffer.  Interest rates were similarly much higher in the early 1980s recession, reaching excruciating levels of 21.5%, whereas Obama was fortunate to enjoy artificially low interest rates in the 1%-2% range. 

Additionally, unemployment during the '80s recession peaked at 10.8%, whereas the last recession topped out at 10%.  It's worth noting, since we're discussing Obama's performance record, that he promised unemployment wouldn't even surpass 8% if his trillion-dollar spending "stimulus" passed.  Instead, unemployment not only raced past 8%, it remained above 8% for the largest number of consecutive months in recorded U.S. history. 

But back to the 2008-2009 recession itself, and Obama's alleged role in "saving the economy from a great depression." 

By way of primer, recessions are defined by gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of economic growth and performance.  Specifically, a "recession" is defined by two or more consecutive quarters of contraction. 

With that in mind, examining the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data makes it readily clear that the economy was on the path to recovery before Obama was even inaugurated, let alone before any of his policies took effect. 

In the third quarter of 2008, the economy contracted at a 1.9% rate.  Then the trouble really began, as the fourth quarter saw an 8.2% contraction, thereby qualifying as an official recession.   It was during that fourth quarter of 2008 that Obama was elected. 

But then notice what started to happen.  In the first quarter of 2009, the economy's contraction eased to a 5.4% rate.  Still bad, and still an extension of the recession into a third consecutive quarter, but much better than the previous quarter.  And then the second quarter of 2009 came in at a 0.5% contraction, meaning almost at the point of growth. 

Then the third quarter of 2009, beginning on June 1 of that year, witnessed 1.3% growth.  In other words, the recession officially ended by May 31 at the latest - just four months into the Obama presidency, and well before any of his economic policies took effect. 

Accordingly, not only did Obama not prevent a great depression, he actually inherited a recovery. 

Here's where it gets even more grim for Obama.  Since the end of the recession all the way back in June 2009, America has endured the worst cyclical post-recession "recovery" in recorded U.S. history. 

As already noted, unemployment remained above 8% for the longest consecutive stretch in history, even though Obama promised that his spending "stimulus" wouldn't allow it to exceed 8% at all.  In addition, for the first time in recorded economic history, median U.S. incomes actually declined rather than increased in the several ensuing years of "recovery." 

And in terms of GDP, we have now endured a presidency in which annual U.S. economic growth has not matched the post-World War II average of 3.3% growth a single time.  Not once.  Instead we have slogged through an average below 2% per year in the Obama Era. 

Meanwhile, Obama brought us four consecutive years of federal budget deficits in excess of $1 trillion, when the largest deficit before Obama was $450 billion.  He has now added as much debt as all of his predecessors.  He has also introduced more suffocating regulations and punitive executive orders than any predecessor. 

And what does Obama have to show for it?  Only the worst economic record in U.S. history.  That is a causal relationship, not a coincidental one. 

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
 
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?