Note to Obama: Don’t Oversell on Economic Recovery


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President Obama is out fast embracing the better than expected drop in employment stating that “the worst may be behind us” on the recession.
Quick counterpoint. A month to month job loss figure of 247,000 jobs is huge on any normal scale — and just because it isn’t of the same scale we saw in previous months doesn’t mean that we don’t have an enormous set of hurdles ahead.
It’s quite disconcerting that Americans are still losing their homes and that even voices like Martin Feldstein are saying that more needs to be done to put a floor on the housing market — and that foreclosures need to be put in temporary pause.
Also, many analysts see a year of state level “de-stimulative shocks” that undermine the impact of the expansionary policy that the White House and Fed are pursuing. The vicious, deep-cutting budget battles that have played out this year in California are likely to play out in state after state over the next year.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to boost confidence in the country — but when consumption of autos is tied to a coupon strategy, when a quarter of a million people are added to those who can’t even afford to buy with those cash-for-clunker coupons — the White House should not be smug about America’s economic situation.
— Steve Clemons


12 comments on “Note to Obama: Don’t Oversell on Economic Recovery

  1. DonS says:

    Meanwhile, who is this Jim Pinkerton character at New America Foundation who glibly calls the “liberal media” the “real terrorists” in the townhall fiascoes? Must mean that New America Foundation has a very big tent, b/c the guy sounds like a real bot. Actually it’s pretty disgusting how all most of the talking heads in the video clip (on Fox) get such big yuks out of America drowning in the health care monopoly.


  2. arthurdecco says:

    “Can someone explain the disparity between the numbers?”
    I posted this at the beginning of the thread. No one has responded to my question, though Joe Chiasson has re-asked it.
    Steve, Is your blog designed to inform? Or is it a blog designed to obfuscate and confuse like so many others?


  3. Joe Chaisson says:

    And the actual job loss numbers may well be much closer to
    500,000. See’s FTalphaville blog where the official
    numbers have been thoroughly critiqued –
    One would hope that the economists on Obama’s team recognize
    that the BEA’s preliminary monthly job loss figures could be
    substantially lower than reality (one imagines they follow the
    Financial Times), but if so then Obama’s public statements are
    clearly misleading.


  4. WigWag says:

    To further illustrate the point that Obama has been anything but the “transformational” leader he aspired to be, the New York Times is reporting today that despite his promise to the contrary, Obama has adopted the Bush tactic of using “signing statements” with all the gusto of a convert.
    Obama’s Embrace of a Bush Tactic Riles Congress
    Published: August 8, 2009
    WASHINGTON — President Obama has issued signing statements claiming the authority to bypass dozens of provisions of bills enacted into law since he took office, provoking mounting criticism by lawmakers from both parties.
    President George W. Bush, citing expansive theories about his constitutional powers, set off a national debate in 2006 over the propriety of signing statements — instructions to executive officials about how to interpret and put in place new laws — after he used them to assert that he could authorize officials to bypass laws like a torture ban and oversight provisions of the USA Patriot Act.
    In the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama called Mr. Bush’s use of signing statements an “abuse,” and said he would issue them with greater restraint. The Obama administration says the signing statements the president has signed so far, challenging portions of five bills, have
    been based on mainstream interpretations of the Constitution and echo reservations routinely expressed by presidents of both parties.
    Still, since taking office, Mr. Obama has relaxed his criteria for what kinds of signing statements are appropriate. And last month several leading Democrats — including Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and David R. Obey of Wisconsin — sent a letter to Mr. Obama complaining about one of his signing statements.
    “During the previous administration, all of us were critical of the president’s assertion that he could pick and choose which aspects of Congressional statutes he was required to enforce,” they wrote. “We were therefore chagrined to see you appear to express a similar attitude.”…
    Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.


  5. chophouse says:

    Wig Wag at 12:47 ‘ “his millions of “net-roots” advocates are quiet as church mice”
    Perhaps that’s because he has turned his back on them? They feel used and they should. Because they were.


  6. WigWag says:

    To make matters worse, not only has his domestic policy been executed incompetently, he has proven to be surprisingly politically incompetent. Despite the complete disarray amongst Republicans and despite the fact that policies advocated by Republicans are very unpopular, it looks almost certain that the Democrats will see serious erosion in their congressional majorities in both houses in the midterm elections. This is almost entirely Obama’s fault.
    He took Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Ken Salazar out of the Senate. When their terms would have come up, each of these Senators would have been a shoe in for reelection.
    Now, if Mike Castle runs in Delaware, that seat could easily be lost. Hillary Clinton’s replacement, Kirstin Gillibrand, is virtually unknown downstate where all the votes are. Former Governor Pataki or Congressman Peter King from Long Island could easily beat her. Obama’s choice for the Senate seat was Carolyn Kennedy so the President can’t be blamed for the fact that Governor Paterson picked Gillibrand. But Obama discouraged people who would have a far easier time winning in November like Carolyn McCarthy or Steve Israel from running in a Democratic Primary for the seat. It’s a dumb mistake. Colorado is a swing state that could easily elect a Republican if Obama’s popularity continues to decline.
    But Obama’s political incompetence doesn’t stop there. To make matters worse, the one Democrat who could have won Kansas and thus replaced the retiring Sam Brownback (he’s running for Governor) is Kathleen Sibelius; Obama stupidly picked her for Secretary of HHS. The one person who could have given John McCain a run for his money in Arizona was Janet Napolitano; Obama stupidly picked her to be Secretary of Homeland Security.
    Add to all of this, Obama’s insistence on backing Arlen Specter in the Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania, the possible loss of the seat Obama previously held in Illinois (because of all the scandal)and Chris Dodd’s major problems in Connecticut and things truly look bleak for Democrats. The sad part is that it’s all of their own making.
    To make matters even worse, for the first time in eight years, the RSCC and RCCC are out raising the DSCC and DCCC. As usual, the RNC is out raising the DNC.
    While Democratic majorities are too big for Republicans to win control of either House, it looks unavoidable that Obama will be forced to operate with much smaller majorities than he currently has. This doesn’t bode well for a President who thinks he can be transformative. Obama can hardly get anything done with the huge majoritiies he has now. How successful will he be when those majorities shrink?
    And anyone who thinks it’s out of the question that Mitt Romney could defeat Barack Obama in the next presidential election is sadly mistaken.
    That’s what happens when the Emperor has no clothes.


  7. Linda says:

    I totally agree–and time to turn it around is very limited because for the average person, things aren’t going to improve much. It is the economy, stupid, and jobs, jobs, jobs.
    I agree also on health care reform. Clinton’s mistake was to do a plan behind closed doors. Obama’s was to give let Congress to it, and so we still don’t know what “it” is. And either way, they are coming up with the same kind of complex and wonky plans that people can’t readily understand–not very easy to explain “bending the curve” to people, etc.


  8. arthurdecco says:

    “The idea that Obama is “transforming” anything looks like a cruel joke.” Wig Wag
    Your whole post could have been written by me.


  9. WigWag says:

    I don’t know what David Mercanus is so cranky about.
    The simple fact is that judged by the standard that Obama asked to be judged by, his presidency has so far been a significant disappointment.
    When running for President in January, 2008 then Senator Obama suggested that he would be a transformative president like Ronald Reagan not a caretaker like Bill Clinton. This is what Obama said,
    “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like with all the excesses of the 60s and the 70s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
    So what has the man who promised to be “transformative” done so far?
    1) He hired every ex-government official from the Clinton Administration that he could find.
    2) He caved into Wall Street; he bailed out every investment bank, commercial bank and insurance company who needed help while extracting nothing in return. Now while tens of millions of Americans continue to languish on unemployment benefits, investment bankers and hedge fund managers are getting bigger bonuses than ever.
    3) He cut a deal with big pharama that promised to continue the Republican policy of forbidding Medicare from negotiating drug pricing. Obama only backtracked on this position when congressional democrats went ballistic.
    4) He passed a stimulus bill that was too small and contained far too many tax cuts.
    5) His strategy on health care reform is turning out to be no better than the strategy that Bill and Hillary Clinton adopted almost two decades ago. Despite the fact that the public is far more motivated to see a plan passed than they were in the 1990s, Obama’s people still can’t seem to get it right. The public option is going down the drain led by Democratic Senators who don’t seem to care what Obama thinks. And his millions of “net-roots” advocates are quiet as church mice while right wing activists show up and disrupt house and senate town hall meetings between legislators and constituents.
    The idea that Obama is “transforming” anything looks like a cruel joke.
    Obama has plenty of time to right the ship. But if things continue as they are, the best two words to describe the Obama Administration will be “failed presidency.”


  10. David Mercanus says:

    Asserting that the White House is “smug” about the economy is patently ridiculous. It’s tantamount to calling them politically clueless. With the economy and all issues, actually, you need to stake a claim for credit – or your opponent will use it against you. Obama and his communications shop are doing that, while always making sure to acknowledge the pain out there — contrast that with the constant ‘sunny side only’ economic claims of the Bush admin.
    You’re contributing to the worst DC pack journalism reactiveness. Please stick to foreign policy.


  11. arthurdecco says:

    Steve, The Toronto Star has reported that the number of applicants applying for unemployment benefits in the United States stood at 550,250 for the last week of July – the last week for which they had data.
    Can someone explain the disparity between the numbers?


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