As President Barack Obama nears the end of his first term, many are wondering what has changed since he took office. Others wonder, “What is he thinking?”
Within his first 100 days in the White House, Obama made his most expensive legislative move: the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – the stimulus package.
The stimulus money was meant to turn the tide of the recession by stopping job losses, creating new employment and generally investing in the country’s infrastructure, including “green” energy. Obama promised it “includes help for those hardest hit by our economic crisis,” and “as a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans.” That was a lie, says Stephen Goldberg, author of Obama’s Shorts (www.ObamasShorts.com), a collection of 23 satirical short stories that take a humorous look at the new rules and regulations governing Americans’ lives.
The states hardest hit by the recession received the least money. Instead of helping out those in the toughest shape, Obama’s stimulus ended up helping his supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters. Can you say cha-ching!?
“Our ‘recovery’ is stagnant at best; we got a flaccid return on the stimulus. For all the money spent, we have received very little hope and change in return.”
Goldberg says a side-by-side snapshot of where the country stood when Obama took office in January 2009 and where things are now paints a clear picture:
• Unemployment Then: 7.8 percent
Unemployment Now: 8.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
• National Average for Gas Prices Then: $1.83
National Average for Gas Prices Now: $3.87, according to the Energy Information Administration
• National Debt Then: $10.627 trillion
National Debt Now: $15.620 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department
• Americans on Food Stamps Then: 31,983,716
Americans on Food Stamps Now (as of January): 46,449,850, according to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP
Many blame this year’s disappointing first-quarter economic recovery figures on Europe’s marketplace troubles, uncontrollable oil prices and skittish-to-hire employers.
“Mr. Obama didn’t say he was going to be the ‘it gets worse before it gets better’ president.” Goldberg says. “Isn’t anyone tired of excuses from politicians and their friends? There are always external factors, but that’s where smarter policy needs to come in. All presidents have faced serious problems that had to be solved.
With unemployment ranging from 8 to 10 percent during Obama’s four years, Goldberg worries that millions of Americans have gotten used to handouts.
“Millions were filled with optimism when Obama took office,” he says. “People compared him to Kennedy, who despite some of his shortcomings said to young people, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ I think that message to young people is now reversed.”
About Stephen Goldberg
Stephen Goldberg is a conservative political pundit who posts his wry observations on breaking news at www.obamasshorts.com. He started his professional life as a comedian and turned to dentistry as a more reliable way to make a living – though he never stopped getting his audience to laugh. He’s been married 45 years and has three children and three grandchildren.