Tuesday, May 1, 2012

'Forward' Starts in Reverse; Obama Campaign Anchors 2012 Message to Economic Deluge of 2008

National Journal
April 30, 2012

The first 38 seconds of President Obama's new 7-minute campaign video are devoted to the economic deluge he inherited. Team Obama doesn't blame President Bush's administration for this bitter economic bequest by name, but the inference is inescapable.
Obama knows the U.S. economic recovery is weak, consumer confidence timid, job growth uninspiring and optimism jittery. This is not the historic foundation upon which a second term is built.  Therefore, the past must be made present to guarantee (or at least enhance) Obama's political future.
The video, with the one word title "Forward" is utterly and not surprisingly consistent with former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs statement Sunday that the central complaint of presumptive-GOP nominee Mitt Romney is Obama "didn't clean up our mess fast enough." 
But it is clear - to the discerning eye - not everything Bush bequeathed Obama was a mess.

The video asserts Obama's 2009 stimulus law, which now carries a price tag of $831 billion, "saved up to 4.2 million jobs." This is a more cautious assertion than earlier White House statements that the law "saved or created" millions of jobs. This despite Congressional Budget Office analysis suggesting the stimulus not only saved jobs but created hundreds of thousands.
While the jobs numbers were cautious, the video chosen was not. Team Obama no longer fearsridicule, which it once encountered, over its widely distributed road and highway signs advertising stimulus-funded projects.  
The video also extols Obama's determination to save two of Detroit's big three automakers but omits that the Bush White House authorized the first $17.4 billion of taxpayer-funded bailouts ($13.4 billion in December of 2008 and another $4 billion in February of 2009). At the time, Bush said:"These are not ordinary circumstances. In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action."
There's a lot of curious wrangling around the auto bailout from Obama. Although the video doesn't mention it, Obama has recently crowed that Chrysler has paid back all its government loans. That's not true. It's paid back all of the $8.5 billion Obama authorized in loans. The company is still $1.3 billionshort of paying back the $4 billion Bush loaned.
Overall, the auto bailout cost taxpayers $85 billion and loses are projected between $23 billion and $40 billion (page 100 of this link).
Obama also touts 25 months of private sector job growth totaling 4.1 million jobs. Omitted is the lossof more than 600,000 public sector jobs.

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