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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Obama Rescued the Economy. Could He Have Done More?

Benjamin Friedman:

Obama rescued the economy. Could he have done more?: ...Barack Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009, during the worst financial and economic crisis since World War II. By then, the Federal Reserve System had already acted to prevent the collapse of the banking system, and so the new president moved forward promptly to spur the depressed economy. The fiscal package he signed Feb. 17, 2009, allocated $787 billion — more than 5 percent of a year’s total U.S. income — ...aimed at stimulating economic activity. The money could have been better directed, so as to achieve greater impact, and in retrospect the amount was too small. But in the face of opposition from Republicans in Congress, Obama’s fiscal stimulus was about as much as any president could have done.
After pushing through the stimulus, however, the Obama administration entered a period of quietude on the economic front. Despite large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, there was no other significant economic legislation during the new president’s first 100 days. Nor in the 100 days following that, nor in the 100 days after that. ...
Instead, once the economic stimulus became law, the Obama domestic agenda shifted to health care. ... Raising the insured total to more than 90 percent of all Americans will likely stand as a historic achievement, but the cost was a diversion of the administration’s energy and attention from other economic problems badly in need of remedy.
The most pressing among them was, and remains, financial reform. Rather than advance its own set of proposals ... when the Democrats held a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate ... the administration largely left the matter to Congress. ...
Overall, if Dodd-Frank were merely one in a series of financial reform packages..., it would have been a laudable first step. But as the nation’s principal response to the worst financial crisis in two generations, it paled. Further, the specifics of many of the intended reforms were left to agency-level rulemaking exercises ... that, predictably, enabled industry lobbyists to blunt their force, if not thwart them altogether. ...

There's quite a bit more in the article.

    Posted by on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 11:17 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (113)


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