[Rescued from hacker oblivion, thanks to Facebook Notes.]
JISHOU, HUNAN — To listen to the right wingers, President Barack Obama has done nothing but spend, spend, spend, ruin health care, trample their rights (to do what, I have no idea), and lead the USA down the path of socialism.
Except he really hasn’t. According to Timothy Egan of The New York Times, Obama managed to save capitalism in the USA, at the price of losing his party’s majority after the midterm elections.
Suppose you had $100,000 to invest on the day Barack Obama was inaugurated. Why bet on a liberal Democrat? Here’s why: the presidency of George W. Bush produced the worst stock market decline of any president in history. The net worth of American households collapsed as Bush slipped away. And if you needed a loan to buy a house or stay in business, private sector borrowing was dead when he handed over power.
As of election day, Nov. 2, 2010, your $100,000 was worth about $177,000 if invested strictly in the NASDAQ average for the entirety of the Obama administration, and $148,000 if bet on the Standard & Poors 500 major companies. This works out to returns of 77 percent and 48 percent.
He also managed to save the banking system, following the same path as predecessor George W. Bush, without nationalizing the banks, and gave the auto industry a chance to recover so it could make both cars and money again.
All of the above is good for capitalism, and should end any serious-minded discussion about Obama the socialist. But more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday. Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.
In other words, he focused on the nuts-and-bolts of the economy, and not the high visibility items. He went for the long term gains, and not the short term, which for a politician, is pretty rare behavior.
The fact the economy is on the rebound has not yet resulted in better employment figures, so the middle class is still pretty pissed at Obama. Meanwhile, the Wall Street folks are making money, while trying to undermine whatever Obama and the Democrats want to do to help the middle class. Does reforming health care ring a bell? (Ask yourself, who is the most upset by health care reform? It’s probably the people who stand to “lose” some money (as in, “not make as much as before”) — the insurance industry — who have a lot of congressmen and women in their pockets.
Anyway, Egan has some good points. Maybe you’re not a big Obama fan, but I agree with Egan. Obama saved our asses.