Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Vote: Why I will vote for Barack Obama, Part Two - The Economy

The Economy is issue number one for the vast majority of voters the election.  While I don't necessarily accept the premise that the President-this one or any president-is directly responsible for the ebbs and flows of the economy, if we do accept that notion, President Obama has done a tremendous job. 

Yes, the recovery has been slower than people want.  When you are the one out of work, a slowly improving situation is of little comfort.  Yes, people are tired of hearing about how bad things were when he took office.  But being tired of hearing something doesn't make it less true. And, I sometimes wonder if people are aware of just how dire circumstances really were when President Obama took office. 

The year leading up to President Obama taking office was an economic crash of once-in-a-lifetime proportions.  The single greatest nose-dive in at least in three and a half decades, and probably the worst since the 1930's.  NPR has a smart, very brief article noting in straight-forward facts some similarities and differences between the "Great Recession" starting 2007 and the "Great Depression" of the 1930's.  The job losses caused by this pre-Obama recession were some 7.9 million. 

So what has happened since President Obama came into office?  Within two months, he comprised a stimulus plan to attempt to stop the crash.  Within a little more than a year, the private sector went from losing more than half a million jobs per month to gaining jobs.  There is a nice, simple bar graph demonstrating both private sector job growth and GDP growth here.  According to the bi-partisan economists in the Congressional Budget Office, the move likely saved or created 3.4 million jobs.

The President invested $62 billion in American automobile industries, despite fierce opposition.  While many people were calling for the legal bankruptcy and, thus, inevitable liquidation of GM and Chrysler, the President felt that those companies and their American workers were a good investment.  Yes, they did go through an assisted bankruptcy, but they were protected from liquidation by the government assistance.  If they had gone into bankruptcy unassisted, as proposed by many others at the time, there would have been no private financial backing willing/able to provide the massive "debtor-in-possession" capital needed to survive such proceedings-since the banks had no money and were in freefall themselves at the time.  Thus, two of American's manufacturing and cultural icons would have been liquidated. 

Since then, the American auto industry has bounced back and is at its most profitable in more than two decades.

Perhaps most importantly, the President has laid the ground work for reforming and preventing causes of the epic crash of 2007-2008.  There were certainly a number of contributing factors, a good brief rundown is here. But in a nutshell, it was the burst of the housing bubble whereby too many home owners had gotten into bad mortgages that were then packaged up and intermingled with the everyday assets of many major banks.  The result was people that could not pay their mortgages and banks that had no capital to finance everyday life in America.  This was caused by, depending on who you talk to, deregulation of the banking industry  and/or artificially low interest rates which discouraged saving and encouraged borrowing.

The President signed Dodd-Frank which was designed to regulate this risky behavior by mega-banks.  It has its problems for sure(the New York Times did a nice piece on it last week), but it was the most comprehensive set of reforms put forward in a very long time.

Due to these, and a lot of other reforms and choices made by President Obama, new home purchases are at a multi-year high, there has been some three years of consecutive private-sector job growth and the majority of economic indicators are putting upwards

For these and many other economic reasons, I will be voting for President Barack Obama.

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