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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Evaluating President Obama's First 100 Days

Friday, May 1, 2009

Evaluating President Obama's First 100 Days

President's have been graded on their first 100 days in office since the Roosevelt administration.  During President Obama's first 100 days, his administration has been active in foreign policy as well as domestic, by regulatory edict as well as through legislation.  The Congress passed a massive stimulus bill, but little spending has yet occurred.  The EPA issued a finding that carbon emissions may be dangerous to human health, setting the stage for cap-and-trade.  Will a cap-and-trade system affect world carbon emissions and ultimately the climate?  Insufficient time has passed for the administration to implement their programs let alone determine if they were successful.

I do have a comment based on President Obama's remarks commemorating his first 100 days in office.  Too often, President Obama scapegoats his actions with a bogeyman in the form of the Bush administration.  His statement, delivered in Missouri illustrates the "Bush as bogeyman" excuse (Calvin Woodward.  "FACT CHECK: Obama disowns deficit he helped shape," AP in MyWay, April 29, 200 ).
Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they're big, and they'll make our deficits go up over the next two years.
It reminds me of the scene in Forest Gump in which Jenny's boyfriend, Wesley, an SDS organizer, smacks Jenny, and apologizes with the eloquent words,
Jenny? Things got a little out of hand. It's just this war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson and-- I would never hurt you. You know that.
It is understandable that Obama is attempting to distance himself from the current and future budget deficits by pinning them on his predecessor, but his statements are disingenuous.  Unlike his clear differences with President Bush on the Iraq War, I have difficulty distinguishing between President Bush's and President Obama's policies regarding the budget and the financial crisis.  On the budget, their spending priorities are different, but they both like to spend.  As a senator, Obama voted for all the Iraq War funding bills save one.  They both took a similar position on the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.  Not only did Obama vote for TARP as a member of a democratically controlled Congress that wanted to make the bill bigger, but many of the people in his administration were part of the Bush team that crafted the bailouts. President Obama claims that there was "almost uniform consensus among economists..."we had to take extraordinary steps" in dealing with banks and a stimulus package. Many brilliant economists supported his measure, others supported some sort of stimulus other than the one he proposed, and many thought that it would be ineffective or harmful (Jeffrey Miron, speaking at Reason, provides justification for doing nothing).


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  2. I am not sure how I would rate President Obama's first 100 days. I was disappointed with how his stimulus plan distributed the funds. Working citizens see an increase in their paychecks in amounts ranging from $10-30 dollars. One of the ten principles of economics, Is that people respond to incentives. As a college student and extra 40 dollars a month will not increase spending on my part. I will definitely be saving more.

  3. Dustin Pierce6/5/09 8:18 AM

    I think that 100 days can not show how Obama has done. He is in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression, he is dealing with two wars, the Swine Flu, pirates, and North Korea. I say give him more time before you rate his performance.

    Dustin Pierce

  4. Krislyn Combs6/5/09 4:59 PM

    Honestly I can not tell you how his 100 days have gone. I can tell you they got a dog and the girls love it, but to me I have not honestly seen any changes. I do know though I can not listen to the man speak because it seems to me all he says is "um" all the time. I think we will have to wait and see how things play out.
    Krislyn Combs

  5. I think that Obama has done well for his first 100 days. I mean we're in this huge recession and foreign problems are just increasing , our president has a lot of problems to take car of. I admit I didnt like how the stimulus money was distributed. I really didnt see where it helped us. But over all I think we should wait til the end of his term to see what all he does.

  6. o sorry paragraph above this is mine.
    Bernice Vessells from Chilton

  7. I think that while many people judge presidents in the first 100 days of their term, it will take much longer to accurately judge president Obamas as his stimulus plan hasn't really been put into action and many major changes are still to come. Because of the current recession and public scares such as the swine flu, Obamas progress in the first 100 days is not going to be as dynamic as a president in more favorable conditions and we should see the change in a couple years from now at the latest.
    Jeff Thomas

  8. Only time will tell the effects of President Obama's first 100 days... Some are disapointed others are hopeful of the "change" that is to come with someone new in office.
    Things in our crumbling ecomony are to get worse before they get better, or so they say... With this recession in progress I am wondering will I be able to keep my head above water? I feel for those suffering, I just don't feel that I could handle that pressure.
    Paula Solano