Heartland Institute Policy Brief: Obama economic recovery worst since Great Depression

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Peter Ferrara
Peter Ferrara

President Barack Obama says his economic policies have been a success because the economy is better today than it was at the depth of the recession he inherited. This theme was pushed at the Democratic National Convention last week, as well, but does Obama really have reason to brag?

Every recovery, by definition, is better than the economic downturn that preceded it. The only objective way to gauge the success of Obama’s economic policies is to compare his recovery to those presided over by other presidents. And by that measure, Obama comes up wanting, according to a new Heartland Policy Brief by Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara titled “Why the United States Has Suffered the Worst Economic Recovery Since the Great Depression.”

It is clear that Obama’s economic policies (‘Obamanomics’), with their retro Keynesian foundation, produced the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression, worse than what every other president faced with a recession has achieved since the 1930s,” Ferrara writes.

Ferrara points out that America’s recovery from the financial crisis and recession near the end of President Bush’s second term was already overdue when Obama took the oath of office. All he had to do was stay out of the way. But he didn’t. Instead, Obama made it worse, and every American is poorer today because of his policies.

Part 1 of this Heartland Policy Brief puts the current recovery in historical context, comparing it to the 11 other recessions that have occurred in the United States since the Great Depression. Parts 2 and 3 drill deeper into the performance of this recovery with respect to job creation and GDP growth. Part 4 documents the current recovery as the worst of the past 60 years.

Part 5 explains how the weak recovery has affected the “middle class” for which Obama claims to be especially concerned, and Part 6 describes the recovery’s effect on another key Obama constituency: women. Part 7 warns the current weak recovery has set in motion a “fundamental transformation” of the United States in the direction of becoming a Third World economy.

Part 8 dismantles the claim that the current recovery was made more difficult because the situation Obama faced was no mere recession, but rather a “financial crisis.” Recessions usually involve some sort of financial crisis, and U.S. economic history shows the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery, even during so-called financial crises.

Part 9 lays the blame for the current weak recovery at the feet of the Keynesian economic policies Obama and his advisors have pursued even in the face of evidence, past and present, of their abject failure. Part 10 then compares the failure of Obama’s Keynesian policies to the successes of economic policies adopted by President Ronald Reagan. In Part 11, Ferrara concludes by summarizing just how big a failure Obama’s Keynesian policies have been, and how much the American people have suffered because of the president’s adherence to an economic theory proven false decades ago.

Download a PDF version of this policy brief at https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/why-the-united-states-has-suffered-the-worst-economic-recovery-since-the-great-depression