Bush vs. Obama: Unemployment (July 2012 Jobs Data)

Change in Total Private Employment (in thousands), Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Update: Click here for the most recent jobs statistics.

On the first Friday of every month, I update the unemployment numbers so that I can compare the unemployment rate under President George W. Bush with the unemployment rate under President Obama at that time. The genesis of this ritual began when I felt compelled to respond to some left-leaning sites that were comparing Obama’s first two years and four months in office with Bush’s last and worst economic year (the above chart shows the most recent incarnation of this narrative).

In July, the private sector added a robust 172,000 jobs in the twenty-ninth consecutive month of private sector job growth. This development is somewhat positive news. The country had a net employment gain of only 163,000 total jobs (private and public). Moreover, 163,000 is above the 125,000 jobs needed each month just to keep pace with the growth of the working-age population, which is encouraging news.

More importantly, July is the seventh month in which the overall number of jobs lost/gained during the Obama administration is better than the number lost during the Bush administration. It is also the third month since the number of net private sector jobs gained or lost during the Obama administration turned positive. That said, the unemployment rate is still one percentage point worse today than it was during President Bush’s last full month in office, and it is half a percentage point worse than when President Obama first entered office. In other words, the unemployment rate in all 43 months of Obama’s presidency has been higher than that of any single month in President Bush’s 8 years in office.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.3% — the sixth lowest month of unemployment during the Obama presidency. This number remains one percentage point higher than President Bush’s last full month in office in December 2008. It also marks 42 consecutive months in which the unemployment rate has been 8% or higher in the 43rd month of the Obama presidency.

Unemployment Rate, Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

That said, the unemployment rate only accounts for the percentage of the unemployed who are actively seeking employment. It does not include people who have given up on finding jobs. The month ended with 195,000 fewer people employed at the end of July than were employed at the end of June (one can attribute the discrepancy to the fact that households report this number, while businesses report nonfarm employment), and the civilian labor force decreased slower than the number of new employees entering the work force decreased. Therefore, the main reason the unemployment rate worsened is that the denominator (the civilian labor force) in the unemployment equation decreased while the numerator (the number of unemployed Americans) increased.

The civilian labor force ended July at 155.0 million vs. June’s 155.2 million. 142.2 million people had jobs in July, which was a decrease of about 195,000 people from June versus about 150,000 people who exited the labor force.

Both the Bush and Obama presidencies have been marked by a steady decline in the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate measures the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the total working-age population. The labor force participation rate declined by one-tenth of a percentage point from 63.8% in June to 63.7% in July.

Labor Force Participation Rate, Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Putting the Numbers into Perspective

The employment statistics during President Bush’s period in office continue to look better than those under President Obama’s to date if one puts more emphasis on the overall unemployment rate. However, President Obama’s employment statistics seem better if one looks at total private sector employment. Over President Bush’s tenure, the private sector lost a net 646,000 jobs, assuming that he gets credit for all jobs lost in January 2009 and none for those lost in January 2001. I changed my methodology in response to a left-leaning blogger‘s fair point “that CES estimates represent information reported by survey respondents for their pay periods that include the 12th of the month.” Hence, any subsequent numbers for jobs created near the end of January would likely appear in the February numbers.

If one attributes the first 19 days of January 2009’s job losses to Bush, and the remaining 11 days of job losses to Obama, the private sector shed 339,000 jobs during the Bush administration (the private sector gained a net 147,000 jobs if one attributes all of January 2009’s job numbers to Obama, and all of January 2001’s numbers to Bush). Surprisingly, this number includes the 3.78 million private sector jobs lost in 2008, and an additional 839,000 in 2009 (514,000 if one attributes the first 19 days of January 2009’s job losses to Bush).

Change in Total Private Employment (in thousands), Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In contrast, under President Obama’s administration, the private sector has gained a net 332,000 private sector jobs (a gain of 7,000 if one attributes the remaining 11 days of job losses in January 2009 to Obama, and a loss of 507,000 if one attributes all of January 2009’s losses to him).

Again, the point of this argument is not to assess blame on either administrations’ policy. It simply puts the numbers into perspective.

For each job the private sector cut under George W. Bush, the private sector gained~0.5 jobs under Barack Obama (if one attributes January 2009’s job losses to Obama, the private sector eliminated ~3 jobs for every job it created under Bush). The economy would need to destroy 978,000 private sector jobs for Bush to break even with Obama (not accounting for the 125,000 jobs that the economy must create each month just to keep pace with population growth).

While President Obama has surpassed President Bush on private sector job creation, the unemployment rate has remained persistently high. It will likely continue to remain so as more people enter the labor force as the economy improves, even if the private sector continues to add jobs at similar rates. The country still has a long way to go to restoring full employment and the President is running out of time. According to The New York Times, no sitting President since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when unemployment was over 7.2% on election day.

And President Obama is no FDR.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
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75 Responses to Bush vs. Obama: Unemployment (July 2012 Jobs Data)

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  18. Janice Love says:

    I can’t imagine where you get your information. Unemployment in my area is just ridiculous. Everywhere I look people have lost their jobs. It was NOT this way 4 years ago. Seems every time I turn on the news, another company has folded. In my town alone, a major employer has been cut by 3/4 and another just went belly-up. Twenty miles away another manufacturer has announced that it is leaving. By private sector, you must mean that a bunch of flea markets have opened up!

    • VR Kaine says:

      Hi Janice,

      That’s the problem with looking at a “national average”, which I’m sure you know. Just saying it’s the same in the state and states that I’m in as well (business-wise). Take Virginia for example. The top of the state has about 5% unemployment while the bottom of the state is basically double that. Try to say the word “recovery” down there or that government’s going to rescue you and someone is likely to be beaten for saying so. haha

      No laughing matter, but I’ve heard in some coal regions real unemployment’s as high as 20%

      http://www.bls.gov/ro3/valaus.htm

    • Middle Molly says:

      Are you saying that you personally know MORE people now that have been laid off vs. four years ago? If so, I would ask where you live and what type of work the people who have been laid off were doing. I’m not saying that things are peachy because they certainly are not, but many, many people that I know were in very difficult situations two to four years ago, and almost all of them have recovered to some extent. I know NO young people now, people who graduated from college last year or the year before, who don’t have jobs– in their field or in a related field. My niece graduated from law school last year, and she and all of her peers that she has kept contact with have jobs in law-related fields. One of my friend’s daughters, who has been underemployed for 4 years now, just recently got a full-time job with benefits.

      A family member has a family business that has benefited greatly from stimulus projects for a couple of years when things were bleak, and now is doing very well again, raking in record revenues so far this year. I also know a few people who started mini-businesses in the last few years who are now starting to make money from those mini-businesses.

      The people who are struggling the most are older people, 50+. Even some with in-demand skills are struggling as age discrimination is rampant. Now many of those people have enough saved for retirement; but they are going to have to modify their retirement plans. Others are a few years older than they were four years ago and they are now able to file for social security.

      I always check careerbuilder to see how many openings are listed in our area. During 2008 and 2009 into early 2010, there were never more than about 8,000 job openings for the whole Chicago area. I just checked now, and there are 17,000 job openings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey) supports this to some extent: There were about 3,800,000 job openings as of June 30th; three years ago, there were 2,400,000 job openings.

      All unemployment numbers are available online, down to the state and local area level.

      Please remember that you will definitely hear of large companies or plants cutting workers as companies must report large anticipated layoffs, so they will be news stories, but you will rarely hear of this company adding five people and that company adding 10 people.

  19. David Nova says:

    good article.

    i don’t think it’s possible to identify a date when one president’s policies end and the next one’s kick in. i’d rather look at trends. the charts you’ve posted show some of those trends.

    the bar graph at the top shows growing net private job losses throughout 2008 bottoming out in early 2009 then reversing until after early 2010 there are no more net losses but there is no sustained upward or downward trend.

    the 2nd chart — a line graph — shows unemployment rate generally falling gradually from about mid-2003 to late 2006 then bottoming out through mid-2007 then turning upward and rising slowly till summer 2008 when it jumps dramatically upward till it peaks in late 2009 when it begins an unsteady but generally downward trend.

    3rd is a line graph of labor force participation rate showing a generally downward trend that more or less levels off for a few years in the middle.

    the 4th chart is the first chart but starting 7 years earlier. it appears that the job loss trend that began in early 2008 is actually a continuation of a trend of declining job growth that started around the beginning of 2007 or possibly sooner.

    i don’t think i can conclude anything from the participation rates. the downward trend at the right-hand end looks like it began in 2008, the year early boomers turned 62 and began taking early retirement.

    from the unemployment graphs alone, if i didn’t know better i would have to conclude that president bush drove us into a ditch and president obama pulled us out. but that couldn’t be, could it? after all, unemployment is still high, and that can’t be the fault of obstruction by congressional republicans, can it?

    • Pro-American says:

      “the 2nd chart — a line graph — shows unemployment rate generally falling gradually from about mid-2003 to late 2006 then bottoming out through mid-2007 then turning upward and rising slowly till summer 2008 when it jumps dramatically upward till it peaks in late 2009 when it begins an unsteady but generally downward trend.”

      House and Senate recreate bills and put them into law.
      Which party is truly to blame?

      2001-2002- Dems ran Senate; Repubs ran House – line turns upward (higher unemployment )
      – .Com crash, Enron, 9/11

      2003-2006-Repubs ran House and Senate – line turns downward (LOWER unemployment)

      2007 – Dems ran House and Senate. – line turns upward (high unemployment).
      -Dems put in place sub-prime loan bill.
      -Dollar is diminished as Yen is bolstered
      -Housing bubble starts to burst.
      2008 – Dems ran House and Senate. – line turns upward (high unemployment).
      -First stimulus pushed through by Democrats. Bush caved to Democrats. Obama voted for it.
      2009 – Dems ran House and Senate – line continues upward swing (unemployment sky-high).
      -ObamaCare pushed through by Democrats.
      – More 800+ Billion stimulus money spent and given to Solyndra and other now bankrupt companies by Democrats.
      – Didn’t pass Budget.
      2010-2012 – Dems run Senate (slight majority); Repubs run House – line turns downward (LOWER unemployment).

      The graphs clearly show that it was the Democrats House and Senate bad policies, not the Republicans that have caused all our economic issues to date.
      To truly change America we have to vote out all the bad apples from the Senate to get this nation back on track. Of course, having a Pres with great policies does help too.

      • David Nova says:

        interesting. by attributing events to the party in the majority from the very moment it takes that majority and assuming equal weight for events in those periods, you ‘prove’ that party responsible, as if no time lags occur and as if no event plays a greater role than any other in causing subsequent effects. according to your timeline, apparently nothing of significance happened from 2003-06 when the GOP ran both houses, and all the problems began as soon as the dems took over in 2007. so let’s look a bit closer at 2007.

        here’s what you state:
        2007 – Dems ran House and Senate. – line turns upward (high unemployment).
        -Dems put in place sub-prime loan bill.
        -Dollar is diminished as Yen is bolstered
        -Housing bubble starts to burst.

        my comments:
        -the first line is correct. the unemployment rate bottomed out in may of 2007.
        -the 2nd line is problematic. H.R. 3915 (110th): Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007 was introduced october 22. it passed the house but not the senate. it never became law, so what does ‘put in place’ mean?
        -i’ll take your word on the dollar and yen. i fail to see the relevance of the relationship of our currency to japan’s.
        -the housing bubble burst in the first half of 2006, not 2007. the case-shiller index peaked in 2006 Q2. the bursting of the housing bubble caused the collapse of mortgage-backed securities, thus triggering the financial crisis and the recession.

        i assume by ‘first stimulus’ in 2008 you mean TARP, which prevented the collapse of a number of big financial institutions that would have led to chaos. can you imagine how many people would have been unable to pay bills if their banks failed? i hate to think of all the late fees and finance charges that creditors and merchants would have added to our payments.

        it’s funny how you lump solyndra in with the $800 billion stimulus. solyndra got well under one billion — a small fraction of one percent of the 800B. the stimulus — the recovery act — stopped the job hemorrhage. you can see that in the bar graphs that show a reversal in may 2009 of the pattern of growing monthly job losses.

        you seem to think major economic events occur immediately after government takes the actions that lead to them. i suspect a lot of politicians — on both sides of the aisle — wish that were true.

  20. middlemolly says:

    “In other words, the unemployment rate in all 43 months of Obama’s presidency has been higher than that of any single month in President Bush’s 8 years in office.”

    Why would this be surprising? When Bush took office, the unemployment rate had been 3.9% that prior December, and, while it had jumped to 4.3% in January 2001, the employment situation of the past 8 years had been decent if not, exceptional. The unemployment rate had already started falling off of a cliff when Obama took office. You allude to this, Sean. The unemployment jumped half a percentage point, a huge increase, in each of the four months from November 2008 until February 2009. The February 2009 unemployment rate of 8.3% reflected unemployment as of February 12, 2009, 23 days after Obama took office.

    “The country still has a long way to go to restoring full employment and the President is running out of time. According to The New York Times, no sitting President since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when unemployment was over 7.2% on election day.

    And President Obama is no FDR. ”

    I really don’t know what “full employment” means. Unless we want to roll back worker’s health and safety laws, minimum wage regulations, etc., and we can have an unemployment rate like that of Vietnam, which now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. Is that what any of us, even Republicans, really want for this country?

    About FDR: Well… FDR had a strong Democratic Congress, something like 2/3rds Dems, much stronger than any Congress that Obama has had backing him. Yet still, he felt that he could not support an anti-lynching bill that came up for discussion in 1935 or 1936 because he feared alienating the southern Dem block.

    Now, we can only imagine how much Obama would be pilloried if he had to make a similar choice.

    And the only president in recent times that we can compare Obama to in terms of the economy is FDR. Nobody else has taken office in the middle of such a disastrous economic situation. We don’t have the specific monthly employment/unemployment data from FDR’s time as we do now, but we do know that, for the first three of FDR’s first four years in office, unemployment was higher than it was when FDR took office. The unemployment rate appears not to have dropped below what it was when FDR took office until sometime in his fourth year. And remember that FDR was actually able to start several work programs that put millions of people to work on government jobs. We all know how that would work these days.

  21. A quick glance at the charts above would indicate to me the following statement is accurate:

    Unemployment under Obama has crept up a little bit and unemployment under GW Bush doubled.

    So here is my issue, I disagreed with a lot of George Bush’s policies and often I felt like he was in over his head – some of you have worked in a company where the owner’s son is in a position he has no business holding…that was how I felt with GW.

    If the facts and ideology support the conservative viewpoint then why don’t we see any rational debates? Why is it that we hear how horrible the economy is and how Obama is turning the country into a socialist, marxist, communist, fascist state.

    The bottom line is that the 112th Congress has been nothing less than short-sighted, political obstructionists who have mortgaged our liveliehoods in order to ‘ensure Obama is a one term president’ as McConnell put it. In an effort to make Obama look incompetent they refuse to pass ANY bills, walking away from Republican-written legislation if Obama supports it.

    It helps that the average member of Congress is worth 10 times the Average American, they can afford a lost decade – but the question we have to ask ourselves is ‘can we?’

    • Pro-American says:

      “The bottom line is that the 112th Congress has been nothing less than short-sighted, political obstructionists who have mortgaged our liveliehoods in order to ‘ensure Obama is a one term president’ as McConnell put it. In an effort to make Obama look incompetent they refuse to pass ANY bills, walking away from Republican-written legislation if Obama supports it. ”

      Here is the truth.

      Reps run House-
      Passed – Budget 2 times. -Defeated by Dems Senate
      Passed – Repeal of ObamaCare. Defeated by Dems Senate
      Passed – Keystone Pipeline bill. Defeated by Dems Senate.
      Passed – Elimination of Ethanol tax credits. – Would have help with
      corn prices rocked by drought. Dems Defeated in Senate.
      Passed – Religious institutions opting out of birth control
      distribution. Defeated by Dems Senate.
      Passed – Extension of Tax Cuts for ALL Americans. – Defeated
      by Dems

      Dem run Senate-
      Rejected- Keystone pipeline -Would have reduced gas prices.
      Rejected- Eliminating Ethanol tax credit – Would have eased corn food and grain prices
      Rejected – Religious institutions opting out of birth control distribution.
      Rejected – Dems and Reps lead budget. NO New budget since 2008.
      Passed – 20% Tax Increase for ALL Americans(small business) making over $250,000.
      http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:SN03412:@@@L&summ2=m&

      http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/r000146/key-votes/page1/

      Looks like its the Democrats that have been stopping everything the People elected the Replican House to do.

      • Thanks for stopping by, Pro-American.

        Forgive me for not responding sooner. I spend too much time arguing with others rather than encouraging people with whom I agree.

        Keep ‘em coming!

      • David Nova says:

        all i can say to that, ‘pro-american’, is thank you to the senate dems. i may not agree with every detail of what they’ve done, but i’m sure glad they stopped the ideology-driven GOP junk. it’s beyond me how anybody can favor keeping taxes low for people making over a quarter million dollars a year. 97% of small business owners make less than that.

  22. nick says:

    the hole was created by Bush over EIGHT years and Obama is digging us out of it
    just as the bar graph shows,. you pathetic racist, birther LIARS

    • Wow. What a rich, well-informed argument based on no evidence whatsoever but a healthy dose of unsubstantiated ad hominem.

      Sigh.

      • nlcatter says:

        i even used your bar graph you racist pig

        • And I’m racist because???

          I look forward to your response. Tin foil hat sightings are rare on this site. Sometimes they can be intriguing scabs to pick at. ;-)

          • nlcatter says:

            I assume all republicans are racists until proven otherwise, so I dont get shocked
            as when I went into clubroom at golf course in Charlotte, whites only,
            and heard all their racists comments since they thought I was one of them.
            tell me what state you lived in.

            • Prejudice doesn’t only apply to race, you know.

              • nlcatter says:

                so you cant read either ? (besides not being able to recognize logical fallacies)

                • Perhaps you are familiar with the term “non sequitur”?

                  • nlcatter says:

                    a non sequitur is not answering the previous request that was clearly stated!

                    • What question?

                      “Tell me what state you lived in”?

                      Was that supposed to be a question? (It was phrased as a demand)

                      The only extent to which it was clear is that it implies I’ve only ever lived in two states – which is an inaccurate assumption. Moreover, the question has no relevance to any possible intelligent argument.

                      My guess is that if I answered that I lived in [insert state], your response would be all Republicans from [insert state] are racists. Since you are a Republican who lived in [insert state], then you are racist. A thoroughly stupid argument, which I hope you didn’t intend to make.

                      Also, while we’re on the subject, why did you allow those nasty racists go on like they did without challenging them? Isn’t it possible that you may have actually enabled that behavior by remaining silent in the face of injustice?

                    • nlcatter says:

                      very good,

                      so answer the demand, or as Clint east wood say * yourself

                    • Well, as I’ve explained, it’s impossible for me to answer your “demand” because I’ve lived in more than two states. I suppose I could supply you with the most liberal of them (MA) and see where you take your strange argument.

                      More importantly, why were you silent when people exhibited such overt racism? Why didn’t you take a stand?

                      Were I a psychologist, I’d say that your prejudice against Republicans is likely a symptom of deeper seated self-loathing for not standing up for your beliefs on that golf course. Of course, I’m not a psychologist.

                    • nlcatter says:

                      since this site now shows only 5 characters across, it shows you site is a piece of crap
                      and no more replies will come
                      morgan stanley, how appropriate, cause the recession and make money at same time.

                      and Jay died in vain. thanks TO republicans.

                    • And yet you keep returning to my site.

                    • By the way, I hear tin foil is on clearance at Walmart. Act now and you might save a ton of money.

            • DemFemme says:

              Please DIAF, you’re making us look as bad as the worst, most ignorant of teabaggers make the right look. Well, excepting spelling, I’ll give you that.

              • Are Bee says:

                Yes, the most ignorant of teabaggers do make the right look bad. What’s funny is the implication that these teabaggers are not typical examples, and perfect representation, of the right.

  23. AM says:

    Your entire argument is a farce. Attributing even the April 2009 job losses to Obama would be a massive stretch. The economy was in freefall, what do you think he could have possibly done to turn things around any quicker than he did? ARRA was passed in February and the stimulus funds obviously took some time to be appropriated and spent. That anyone could look at that chart and conclude anything other than Obama has managed to stabilize a massively contracting economy is beyond me.

    • nlcatter says:

      at least the column width is back to normal! and you are so right, AM, just remember GOPer moron works for morgan stanley, explains everything! Thieves have great alibis.

    • “Your entire argument is a farce.”

      How?

      ” Attributing even the April 2009 job losses to Obama would be a massive stretch”

      Well, the Obama campaign is taking credit for reversing the job loss trend (which began in March 2009). So which is it? You cannot have it both ways.

      “That anyone could look at that chart and conclude anything other than Obama has managed to stabilize a massively contracting economy is beyond me.”

      That’s if you look only at the private sector jobs chart. However, one should always examine multiple sources of data including the unemployment chart (a disaster), the increased number of people on food stamps (which now totals ~45M people), the dramatic increase in the federal debt, and anemic GDP growth (sub 2%).

      Anyone who can conclude that Obama’s economic record has been successful, is ignoring the full spectrum of economic data.

      • AM says:

        “How?”

        I think I made that pretty clear.

        “You cannot have it both ways.”

        I didn’t ask to. A rational person would surmise it would take a few months for the new administration to enact policies and execute them. Your own chart illustrates that. Arguing exactly which month is childish semantics.

        “examine multiple sources of data”

        News flash: cause and effect economic data (unemployment, food stamps, etc) is lagged. That many facets of our economy are still suffering the effects of the “great recession” should not be surprising. Given the remarkable obstinance of the Republican House and the fact that most of Obama’s initiatives have not been considered, let alone passed, by that body, it is not at all surprising things have stagnated since the ARRA.

        “the dramatic increase in the federal debt”

        If you really want to bring the debt into this discussion, I suggest you first memorize this chart.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/07/25/Blogs/ezra-klein/StandingArt/debt%20changes%20under%20bush%20obama.jpg?uuid=qZCizrbZEeCYzBMQCYwsyQ

        “anemic GDP growth”

        How does the current GDP growth compare to the last quarter of Bush’s presidency? Hint: Q4 2008 GDP growth was around -9%

        • “I didn’t ask to. A rational person would surmise it would take a few months for the new administration to enact policies and execute them. Your own chart illustrates that. Arguing exactly which month is childish semantics.”

          Ah, but you did. Your argument was that April 2009 was too early. When then should the clock start? June 2009? January 2010?

          At some point a man ought to be held responsible for his performance. 3.5 years is more than enough time, don’t you think?

          “News flash: cause and effect economic data (unemployment, food stamps, etc) is lagged.”

          It is. But it’s unreasonable to argue that that lag is 3.5 years. Maybe 6 months, 1 year tops. But 3.5 years stretches credulity.

          “If you really want to bring the debt into this discussion, I suggest you first memorize this chart.”

          I’ve seen this chart multiple times and it is based entirely on subjective judgement calls. For instance, Bush didn’t institute Medicare. Why then is he held responsible for the debt incurred by that program? Lyndon B. Johnson instituted that policy. A fair accounting (if one is ascribing debts incurred based on which president implemented that policy, which is frankly impossible to do in an objective manner) would back that amount out of both Bush and Obama’s debt amounts. This “analysis” obviously does not do that, so it is highly flawed.

          Moreover, “memorizing” anything is great advice if you’re trying to create religious or political zealots. It’s not a very good policy for training thoughtful people.

          “How does the current GDP growth compare to the last quarter of Bush’s presidency? Hint: Q4 2008 GDP growth was around -9%”

          How does current GDP growth compare to the 8-year average of Bush’s term? Hint: not very well.

          Look, if you cherry pick your data points, you can make any argument stick.

          Moreover, why do you feel it necessary to point at Bush? Obama isn’t running against Bush’s record anymore. He’s is running on his own. Things are not well now and they aren’t improving.

          “Given the remarkable obstinance of the Republican House and the fact that most of Obama’s initiatives have not been considered, let alone passed, by that body, it is not at all surprising things have stagnated since the ARRA.”

          It is important to remember that Obama had control of both Houses of Congress for the first two years of office. That time should have focused on generating an economic recovery. In all fairness, Obama did do that for his first year of office. Then he wasted all his political capital on healthcare – a strategic disaster given the state of the economy. The seeds of Obama’s failure were sown in 2010, before the Republicans ever controlled Congress.

          Frankly, I’m sick of hearing this excuse. At some point, the President needs to be a leader and stop whining. The Democrats controlled Congress when Bush implemented the surge in Iraq, a move that nearly every politician said wouldn’t work. Yet, despite his political opposition, he got it done, and it worked. In fact, it worked so well that his successor, President Obama, imitated it in Afghanistan.

          This country needs leadership, not excuses. Obama is supplying nothing but the latter.

          • VR Kaine says:

            “This country needs leadership, not excuses. Obama is supplying nothing by the latter.”

            Amen!!

          • AM says:

            “A fair accounting (if one is ascribing debts incurred based on which president implemented that policy, which is frankly impossible to do in an objective manner) ”

            Reading comprehension, Skippy. The chart shows the additional debt for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. Hence the chart title “New Costs”. Nothing about that is subjective, it is 100% factual.

            I’m not going to argue what month we should start assessing Obama’s responsibility for the economy, utterly pointless. I picked a month in my initial statement for the sake of brevity. Different indicators are going to have completely different rates of recovery, to try and pin down one point where things “turned around” is a fool’s errand. The thing that matters is that things clearly have stabilized from the freefall that was taking place when Obama took office, and I happen to think the ARRA played a big part in that. If you want to have a substantive debate about the causes of the great recession that’s a different story.

            Obama did not “waste” anything by pursuing health care reform, ACA is a huge step forward for our health care system and people will begin to see that as the various benefits are realized, with nary a death panel in sight.

            The inherent irony of Republicans crying about the president not doing enough to help the economy is that the overarching theme of their policy is less government. You’re essentially saying “You haven’t don’t enough! We need to do a lot less!” It makes no sense logically, or in terms of policy. When you blame Obama for the current state of the economy, what specific policies can you cite? Everything he’s proposed in the last 2 years, including the American Jobs Act, were never taking up by the House. Even when he proposed breaking it up into smaller pieces, many of which were things Republicans had supported in the past, they still took no action. Why is that, do you think?

            “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told National Journal‘s Major Garrett in October.

            • “Reading comprehension, Skippy. The chart shows the additional debt for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. Hence the chart title “New Costs”. Nothing about that is subjective, it is 100% factual.”

              My apologies. I didn’t review the chart before responding, I relied on my memory of what was wrong with the WP analysis so gave an incorrect example. The analysis leaves out some critical Obama administration policies and may underestimate costs. For instance, the analysis ignores the cost of the Afghan surge (which it ascribes entirely to Bush), the cost of the Libyan campaign, and the cost of Dodd-Frank. Moreover, it uses net rather than gross costs for Obamacare ($1.674 trillion by the CBO’s latest estimate). Using net costs in this analysis is akin to the mark-to-market accounting Enron used.

              The second major problem with the analysis is that it compares 8 years of Bush’s policies to under 3 years of Obama’s policies. Again, it doesn’t compare apples-to-apples.

              So the analysis is completely flawed.

              ” The thing that matters is that things clearly have stabilized from the freefall that was taking place when Obama took office, and I happen to think the ARRA played a big part in that. If you want to have a substantive debate about the causes of the great recession that’s a different story.”

              I think Obama’s and Bush’s actions absolutely stabilized the economy. The problem is that the president veered off that course with ACA. According to the President’s own estimates, we should be at 6% unemployment now. Instead we are at 8.3%, and 3 million more people are unemployed than when the President took his oath of office. Obama has simply not made a case for how things would get any better under his economic policy. He hasn’t made a case to the American people. His performance has been so bad that he has to avoid discussing the economy because he hasn’t been an effective leader.

              “Obama did not “waste” anything by pursuing health care reform, ACA is a huge step forward for our health care system and people will begin to see that as the various benefits are realized, with nary a death panel in sight.”

              Yes, this is similar to the argument that if only the stimulus had been bigger, we wouldn’t be in such a rut today. Have your insurance rates come down since passage of this bill? Mine have nearly tripled. The only thing I actually agree with on the ACA is the individual mandate (which the Supreme Court thankfully upheld). That said, ceding the government control over 20% of US GDP is a disaster, especially healthcare. If you’ve ever been in a federal healthcare facility, you’d be very afraid (I was in the military for some time and know firsthand).

              But it is impossible to argue whether the law will work or not. I am confident that when incompetent government bureaucrats start meddling, healthcare outcomes will worsen.

              “The inherent irony of Republicans crying about the president not doing enough to help the economy is that the overarching theme of their policy is less government. You’re essentially saying ‘You haven’t don’t enough! We need to do a lot less!’ It makes no sense logically, or in terms of policy. When you blame Obama for the current state of the economy, what specific policies can you cite?”

              No. The President can do more for the economy by avoiding legislation that harms it. To wit: ACA (discourages hiring because future employee costs are uncertain), Dodd-Frank (mandates that banks hoard capital by maintaining capital ratios rather than investing in the economy or lending), EPA rule-making (which increases the cost of coal and thereby the cost of electricity), a moratorium on offshore drilling (which, thankfully, has been lifted, but contributed to high gasoline prices), making no move for the repatriation of $1.5 trillion of offshore cash (by allowing companies to repatriate this income tax free, the President could have generated a tax free stimulus and attached simple conditions for repatriation like jobs and manufacturing plants created; yet he didn’t).

              In every single one of the cases I cited, the government steps out of private industry and let’s it do what is best. Hence the argument Obama could have done more by doing less.

              • AM says:

                Wow, you’re really grasping at straws there. Libya cost less than a billion dollars, hardly a blip on the radar. Dodd-Frank? $3 billion, which is a pittance compared to how much another financial crisis would cost and still not enough to even mention in this context. Afghanistan? Not his war, but I give him credit for trying to end it.

                “The second major problem with the analysis is that it compares 8 years of Bush’s policies to under 3 years of Obama’s policies. Again, it doesn’t compare apples-to-apples.”

                It goes both ways, ignorant people who don’t understand where the majority of this debt came from attribute all of these costs to Obama and like to say “look how much debt he’s created in just 3 years!.” Just like YOU did earlier in the thread.

                “So the analysis is completely flawed.”

                Why, because you don’t like what it says? Too bad.

                “The problem is that the president veered off that course with ACA. According to the President’s own estimates, we should be at 6% unemployment now. Instead we are at 8.3%, and 3 million more people are unemployed than when the President took his oath of office.”

                The administration is fully capable of pursuing multiple policies at once, amazing right? Again, you’re trying to make the point that the government should have done more in one sentence while saying they’ve done too much in the next. Looking at total jobs lost under Obama when that amount was lost in the first four months of his presidency is disingenuous at best, but I think we’ve already covered that.

                “That said, ceding the government control over 20% of US GDP is a disaster, especially healthcare. If you’ve ever been in a federal healthcare facility, you’d be very afraid”

                Either you are entirely clueless about what the ACA is and does, or you’re just flat out lying. The ACA is not socialized medicine, it doesn’t even offer a public option. The government is not going to own the hospitals, or pay the doctors.

                “ACA (discourages hiring because future employee costs are uncertain)”

                Until we offer a single payer option, ACA is the best we’re going to do as far as getting insurance for 50 million uninsured Americans. Future employee health care costs were going to be uncertain regardless. If employees don’t want to directly bear the costs of employee health care, then they should support single payer.

                “Dodd-Frank”

                The banking industry had this coming after they tanked the whole economy. Don’t want to get regulated? Don’t blow up the economy.

                “EPA rulemaking”

                CSAPR is vacated and MATS doesn’t take effect until 2015, coal fired generation costs just as much as it always has and power is at historically cheap levels due to the natural gas glut. EPA is also under court mandate to propagate those rules based on the Clean Air Act, so they couldn’t not do it even if they wanted to. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

                “Moratorium on offshore drilling”

                Deepwater Horizon. Again, if you don’t want to get regulated, then don’t cause massive environmental disasters. Besides, the moratorium only impacted ~1% of the wells in the Gulf of Mexico, there is precisely 0% chance of that production impacting the price of oil.

                “repatriation of $1.5 trillion of offshore cash”

                Another easily dis-proven talking point. You want to reward their bad behavior? We tried this in 2004, do a little research and find out what happened. Cliff’s Notes: they didn’t hire people. Regardless of all this, the administration did offer to consider doing this in the context of broader tax reform, they weren’t taken up on it.
                http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/Corporate-Repatriation-Tax-Holiday-Mirage-58998-1.html

                “In every single one of the cases I cited, the government steps out of private industry and let’s it do what is best.”

                Collapsing the economy? Creating unprecedented environmental disasters? Avoiding taxes? These are the things that private industry has proven adept at doing these last few years. If you need more proof that government regulation is a necessary evil in a capitalist system, you could just pick up a history book.

                Anyways, I’m out of the thread, debunking your talking points is tiresome and boring.

                • “Wow, you’re really grasping at straws there. Libya cost less than a billion dollars, hardly a blip on the radar. Dodd-Frank? $3 billion, which is a pittance compared to how much another financial crisis would cost and still not enough to even mention in this context. Afghanistan? Not his war, but I give him credit for trying to end it.”

                  Sigh. My central contention was that WaPo’s analysis picks and chooses various policies in a rather subjective analysis. The fact that you cite the cost of these programs rather than attempt to argue that the WaPo should not include them, implies that you agree with my central point that the analysis is not comprehensive and therefore, subjective.

                  Moreover, you are correct that these two policies amount to roughly $4 billion, but have conveniently chosen to rebut the most expensive policy – ACA, which will require $1.6 trillion over the next decade, a policy that is decisively linked to President Obama.

                  “It goes both ways, ignorant people who don’t understand where the majority of this debt came from attribute all of these costs to Obama and like to say “look how much debt he’s created in just 3 years!.” Just like YOU did earlier in the thread.”

                  Now you’re grasping at straws. It doesn’t matter what time period I use for Obama because his debt level in three and a half years is ALREADY HIGHER than the debt added during Bush’s entire 8-years in office. If I measured it against Bush’s first 3.5 years in office, Obama’s contribution to the debt would still be higher. Hell, if I compared it to Bush’s last 3.5 years, it would still be higher.

                  “Why, because you don’t like what it says? Too bad.”

                  No, the analysis is flawed, because it is subjective and does not present a comprehensive accounting of President Obama’s policies. Just because it fits your worldview doesn’t make it a valid analysis.

                  “The administration is fully capable of pursuing multiple policies at once, amazing right? Again, you’re trying to make the point that the government should have done more in one sentence while saying they’ve done too much in the next.”

                  Of course, an administration can pursue multiple policies at once. However, the more policies it pursues, the less it can focus on any one individual policy.

                  “Looking at total jobs lost under Obama when that amount was lost in the first four months of his presidency is disingenuous at best, but I think we’ve already covered that.”

                  But, I thought you argued one couldn’t an arbitrary limit on when the clock starts for Obama? Which is it? Should Obama get credit for the stimulus? He passed it in February 2009, before your precious partisan “clock” starts.

                  “Either you are entirely clueless about what the ACA is and does, or you’re just flat out lying. The ACA is not socialized medicine, it doesn’t even offer a public option. The government is not going to own the hospitals, or pay the doctors.”

                  Perhaps you are clueless as to where the incentives inherent in the ACA will lead. Since the penalty is less than healthcare costs many employers, many employers will drop coverage and simply pay the fine. When they do this, more Americans will have to shift to a government health insurance exchanges. The incentives are simply all wrong and will end up costing us.

                  “Until we offer a single payer option, ACA is the best we’re going to do as far as getting insurance for 50 million uninsured Americans. Future employee health care costs were going to be uncertain regardless. If employees don’t want to directly bear the costs of employee health care, then they should support single payer.”

                  No. The President promised the cost of healthcare would decline. It hasn’t and it won’t. Your last statement is just rife of the kind of talk I’m beginning to expect from Democrats. “If you don’t like it, tough! We’re going to shove it down your throats.” At some point, people are going to shove back.

                  “he banking industry had this coming after they tanked the whole economy. Don’t want to get regulated? Don’t blow up the economy.”

                  Again, this typifies the Democratic mindset. Notice the lack of any rational assessment of the policy. Your argument is that Dodd-Frank is good because it punishes the banks. Not that it will prevent future failures, nor that the benefit of the legislation will outweigh the cost. In fact, some have argued that it could cost the broader economy up to $1 trillion (today, this number is equivalent to over 6% of US GDP). Here’s an anecdotal example in The Economist of how ham-fisted this Act actually is: http://www.economist.com/node/21559657.

                  “Collapsing the economy? Creating unprecedented environmental disasters? Avoiding taxes? These are the things that private industry has proven adept at doing these last few years. If you need more proof that government regulation is a necessary evil in a capitalist system, you could just pick up a history book.”

                  Again, you put words in my mouth and are hyperbolizing my argument. I never said all regulation was bad. I was very specific about which regulations were particularly onerous and unhelpful.

                  “Anyways, I’m out of the thread, debunking your talking points is tiresome and boring.”

                  Keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better about yourself.

                  “CSAPR is vacated and MATS doesn’t take effect until 2015, coal fired generation costs just as much as it always has and power is at historically cheap levels due to the natural gas glut. EPA is also under court mandate to propagate those rules based on the Clean Air Act, so they couldn’t not do it even if they wanted to. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

                  Nice try. Apparently the DOE disagrees with you. The DOE’s stress test of these new rules suggest that “resource adequacy would not be compromised,” though the retirements of power plants and other factors “could lead to grid-reliability challenges” in some localized instances, the report stated.

                  “Deepwater Horizon. Again, if you don’t want to get regulated, then don’t cause massive environmental disasters. Besides, the moratorium only impacted ~1% of the wells in the Gulf of Mexico, there is precisely 0% chance of that production impacting the price of oil.”

                  Again, your argument begins with the punishment for the sake of punishment argument. Moreover, you have no idea what you are talking about regarding energy markets. Like CO2 in global warming, tiny amounts of oil (like tiny amounts of CO2) can have a large impact on the overall system. For instance, the Saudis only have about 3-5 mbpd of spare capacity in a ~86 mbpd market (or about 3% of the total market). If they cut back on this spare capacity, oil prices spike. Even tiny supply shocks in the tight oil market can have a massive impact on the market. It doesn’t have 0% impact just because you say so. You’re going to have to do better than that here.

                  “Another easily dis-proven talking point. You want to reward their bad behavior? We tried this in 2004, do a little research and find out what happened. Cliff’s Notes: they didn’t hire people. Regardless of all this, the administration did offer to consider doing this in the context of broader tax reform, they weren’t taken up on it.”
                  You obviously didn’t read what I wrote carefully enough. I very specifically noted that any tax repatriation program would be conditional on creating American jobs or building manufacturing facilities in the US. I said this with full knowledge of what happened in 2004. Don’t point words in my mouth. The fact is that the President, like you apparently, didn’t bother to consider other options that could have helped stimulate the economy. Again, nice try.

          • nlcatter says:

            thanks other visitor , who showed us how Obama doesnt lead,

            oh wait , i see nothing there in your post !

            to other poster – and how do you know it was whites only ? believe everything you read?

  24. Barbara Christy says:

    I believe that Obama took over when the seas were muddy, employment was down, the deficit was way in the RED as Bush had borrowed Trillions of dollars from Chinia for the War. The War that we probably should never have been in in the first place and that is where trillions of dollars were spent putting us in a mess financialy..So Obama took over at a bad time. A lot of Obama’s problems started with the Bush Administration.

  25. Jeff Allen says:

    Interesting discussion carrying varying degrees of rationality.
    In other discussions, there’s been a lot of back and forth over this chart, a variant of which you also reference:

    http://cdn.factcheck.org/UploadedFiles/2012/06/MonthlyJobs.png

    A lot of the discussion elsewhere, and some here, revolves around comparing apples and apples. To that end, I want to focus attention at two relatively similar periods – 2001-2004 for Bush, and 2009-2012 for Obama.

    Both periods either start in, or drop into recession. Comparing trends in both periods seems to demonstrate (at least to me) more rapid improvement in job loss/gain trends during the 2009-2011 period. I’d also note, that the “tail” of the period for Bush in 2003/2004 overall suggests significantly less job growth than a similar period with Obama, and this during a time when Bush had fairly firm support in congress, from a combination his party, and that of conservative Democrats.
    I’ll now direct your attention to the 2004-2008 portion of the graph. This is where the lions share of growth under Bush occurred. It also is exactly where you would expect the effects of the billions being spent on the Iraq war would start to show up in the economy.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/U.S._Defense_Spending_Trends.png

    It would appear to me the change in military expenditure which had been flat until 2002, more than doubled during the last six years of Bush’s administration. The total money spent exceeds TARP by a wide margin, and directly expanded our debt. Combine that with securities changes that permitted foreign liquidity to flood into the country via the housing market, and it seems to me you have two of the major pillars supporting job growth during the last half of the Bush administration.

    I derive from this, that the appearance of improved performance under Bush, vis-a-vis Obama can be tied significantly to policies which themselves are the primary drivers behind the 2008 collapse.

    So back to Unemployment numbers. While Bush unemployment levels were lower overall during most of his administration than Obama’s, they were supported not by good economic policy; rather they were driven in great part by the expansion of credit both individually and nationally to unprecedented levels. This was also done during a period of strong Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of government. Since the 2008 collapse, while unfunded Federal spending has continued to rise, consumer debt driven by rising housing prices and refinancing has not. In that I think we see a big part of why the unemployment numbers have not dropped back to the (artificially) low values seen under Bush.

    • Jeff,

      I absolutely agree that easy access to credit and military expenditures helped fuel economic growth during the Bush and Clinton years. Particularly, it began with the repeal of the Glass-Steagull Act under Clinton, which enabled the banks to create mortgage backed securities, which helped fuel the crisis.

      The pendulum swung, so to speak, too far in the direction of loose credit. Today, the country has the opposite problem. Despite historically low interest rates, credit is too tight. Much of this tightness is directly attributable to passage of clunky legislation like Dodd-Frank. A simple, but phased, repeal of the 32-page Glass-Steagull Act would have done the trick, but the president opted for something far more cumbersome and complex (4,000+ pages of legislation) that has helped choke credit, thereby slowing the economic recovery. In essence, the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of unnecessarily tighter credit.

      Moreover, of course Obama’s improvement in jobs numbers looks stronger. First, he operated from a much weaker starting point than Bush. Second, he pumped $1 trillion into the economy starting within the first month or two of being in office. Bush spent roughly a trillion on both Iraq and Afghanistan over an 8 year period. Again, apples to apples…

  26. Loraine says:

    Does the government know how many of the jobs created are permanent full time verse part time or temporary? I ask because I worked in staffing for many years. At one point I had 900 people in temporary and temporary to hire positions at one company.

  27. SteveKJR - Stockbridge, GA says:

    Your graphs are slanted towards Obama. You are taking Obamas first term in office and comparing it to Bushes last term in office. How about you compare “apples to apples”. Lets compare Bushes first term in office to Obamas first term in office.

    Should Obama get re-elected then at the end of his second term we can compare those terms.

  28. hugo says:

    Did Bush inheret a near depression?

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