Last year was the American economy’s most successful since 1999, and the credit belongs to President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party for passing sweeping legislation in 2009 to make it happen. Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economist Paul Krugman wrote a New York Times column earlier today in which he praised the President for guiding our nation out of troubled waters, calling it “trickle-up economics:”
What happened instead after Mr. Obama was re-elected was the best job growth since the 1990s. But family incomes, at least as estimated by the Census, continued to lag. So there was still some statistical basis for the right’s Obama-bashing. Now that statistical basis is gone.
The reports showed strong progress on three fronts: rapid growth in the incomes of ordinary families — median income rose a remarkable 5.2 percent; a substantial decline in the poverty rate; and a significant further rise in health insurance coverage after 2014’s gains. It was a trifecta that we haven’t hit since, yes, 1999.
In real terms, that means that half of all Americans got a pay raise of $2500 last year, the first time that’s happened in quite some time. President Obama’s health plans, smarter regulation and targeted spending got our national economy moving.
Professor Krugman also pointed out that the uninsured rate in America is at it’s lowest point today, thanks to Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act also managed to limit the cost inflation of healthcare services which had soared through recent decades. The effect of channeling government benefits to regular people instead of corporate interests or wealthy individuals – or both as Republicans in Congress prefer mostly – creates a trickle effect that moves upwards:
It would be an exaggeration to say that the Obama administration has done the reverse, but there definitely was an element of trickle-up economics in its response to the Great Recession: Much of the stimulus involved expanding the social safety net, not just to protect the vulnerable, but to increase purchasing power and sustain demand. And in general Obama-era policies have tried to help families directly, rather than by showering benefits on the rich and hoping that the benefits trickle down.
The economy is performing better with the Consumer Finance Protection Board today than before the agency was created. President Obama and Democrats didn’t employ any of the Bush-era’s wasteful government spending or de-regulated economic policies which led to a mountain of debt, distorting the economy until a financial panic starts. Professor Krugman summed it up thusly:
We expected good news; but last year, it turns out, the economy partied like it was 1999. And this tells us something very important — namely, that a government that wants to can make American society more equitable, improving the quality of life for ordinary families.
President Obama has led our nation in outstanding fashion for seven and a half years, prompting even Republicans to admit that his administration has been “remarkably scandal free” and that’s a testament to both his timely action in 2008 through the insane Tea Party in 2010. It’s also the very most important reason why Democrats need to dig deep for the next 54 days and do everything they can to elect Hillary Clinton as our first female President – because if a Clinton could make the economy party in 1999 and Obama is doing the same, then we need another Clinton to keep our economy moving.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition