If Obama can claim credit for killing bin Laden a year ago, why can’t he take credit for the economy today? [Reader Post]

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As President Obama and his administration are constantly telling us, the horrible economy is not his fault because he inherited the “Worst recession since the Great Depression”. One can certainly make that argument. You just can’t get it to stick.

If you could however, what you’d basically be saying is that that 3 ½ years after taking office the President of the United States is essentially helpless to impact the economy. “No, no, no!” his supporters would no doubt respond: “That’s not what we mean! The entire economy, nay the entire world’s economic system would have collapsed if President Obama had not saved us.” That’s simply a 2012 version of the absurd and decidedly non-empirical “Jobs created or saved” measure the administration proffered when it became obvious that their stimulus was a failure.

If the President is not responsible for the economy after three years in office, what are we to make of his taking credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden after just two? The financial meltdown began in 2007 and by 2009 we were officially out of the recession. Yet key pieces of intelligence that led to the CIA eventually locating bin Laden were discovered even earlier, in 2005 and 2007. In addition, critical to the success of the intelligence gathering process was information garnered from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed using the very “enhanced interrogation” techniques candidate Obama objected to.

As Obama seeks a second term so that he can begin to fix the economy, Vice President Biden is there to tell voters the only things they really need to know about the President’s first term: “bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive”. The President apparently wants to take “credit” for GM as well, despite the fact that the ill advised rescue of the UAW… er… of GM began under President Bush also. But the bottom line is that General Motors is alive, has paid back its loans, and is profitable. Alive, like so many things with this administration, is a relative thing. Yes, GM did pay back its government loans, but the money used to do so came from… other government loans. And yes, the company is currently profitable, but that is in no small part because it received $45 billion in special tax benefits not typically available to companies emerging from bankruptcy. (I’d venture to guess that even the hapless Solyndra might eke out a “profit” if given tens of billions in loans and a $45 billion write off.) The lesson for America from GM and the administration is that it’s OK if a company doesn’t pay taxes so long as its union members get paid.

As we look forward to an exciting run up to the November election, the question is, how is it that a President seeking a second four year term isn’t responsible for the economy 3 ½ years after taking office, but somehow is supposed to be given credit for killing bin Laden a year earlier? Has the Presidency been reduced to a cafeteria plan where the man sitting in the Oval Office gets to pick and choose the issues for which he wants to be held responsible? Does the fact that he takes credit for something mean that we have to agree with his assessment? What about the things he demurs to take credit for? Are we forced to blame them on President Bush or can we pick any scapegoat?

Harry Truman famously had a sign that sat at the edge of his desk in the Oval Office that read “The Buck Stops Here”, in reference to which he once told Naval War College audience: “The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.” I’m not sure what kind of a sign is sitting on Barack Obama’s desk, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it weren’t similar to that contemptuous sign you find posted on desks and doors of bureaucrats all across the country: “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.” Only in President Obama’s case it reads: “A lack of economic opportunity on your part doesn’t constitute failure on my part.”

The product of a military family, growing up in Naples, Italy and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and being stationed in Germany for two years while in the Army, Vince spent half of his first quarter century seeing the US from outside of its own borders. That perspective, along with a French wife and two decades as a struggling entrepreneur have only fueled an appreciation for freedom and the fundamental greatness of the gifts our forefathers left us.

8 Responses to “If Obama can claim credit for killing bin Laden a year ago, why can’t he take credit for the economy today? [Reader Post]”

  1. 2


    We must also remember that congress is in charge of the budget, and the congress during the last 2 years of the Bush administration was headed by damnocrats, i.e., members of the same party as the current POTUS. Why isn’t he including them in the blame game?

    That is what is wrong with this country, too many people blame others for their circumstances instead of owning up to their failures. It’s time for all of us to man up!

    At some point the child president is going to have to man up to his own failed promises!

  2. 3


    I’m sure he’ll be willing to take credit for the fact that the U.S. economy didn’t collapse. Remember how close we came to catastrophe in 2008? People seem to forget.

  3. 4



    Remember how close we came to catastrophe in 2008? People seem to forget.

    I don’t remember a near collapse, Greg. What I remember is that government was telling us folks that unless we forked over the dough, the banking industry would collapse. Was it really as fragile as what we were led to believe? Or could it have withstood the impact of several large institutions going broke? Remember, Greg, many of the banking institutions in the country and abroad did not overextend themselves financially and many of them needed no bailout in order to stay afloat.

    The way you are going with your comments, Greg, come November, Obama will have single-handedly prevented the apocalypse, saved Japan from a melting reactor core, saved the whales and polar bears, resurrected the american auto industry, and fired the gun that killed Bin Laden.

  4. 5


    @johngalt, #4:

    I don’t remember a near collapse, Greg.

    I seem to remember the bottom falling out of the stock market, unemployment spiraling out of control, the financial industry in imminent danger of systemic, cascading failure, and serious speculation that we were on the brink of another global Great Depression.

    It’s a relief to now be told that the Global Financial Crisis never actually happened. Apparently word hasn’t gotten around yet. A Google search brings up 19,300,000 hits when I search using that term.

  5. 6



    serious speculation

    Thank you for providing the operative phrase here, Greg. Which is exactly my point. We were told all manner of things that could happen by economists and journalists. The government, and by government I mean politicians like Obama, chose the worst possibility to claim that if they didn’t spend the money, a disaster was imminent. The question is, would it really have been as bad as they say if the over $800 and some Billion wasn’t spent on the stimulus, or the hundreds and hundreds of billions on TARP?

    It’s a relief to now be told that the Global Financial Crisis never actually happened.

    I never said that the financial crisis of 2008 never happened, Greg. What I questioned was your assertion that the entire economy would have collapsed, if not for TARP, the auto bailouts, the Stimulus, and Obama.

    TARP was pushed first by Bush and his Treasury secretary. Can Obama really take credit for something he didn’t initiate?

    The auto bailouts, to GM and Chrysler, were initiated by Obama. But, can Obama really take credit for doing something that the other member of the big 3 didn’t participate in, and came out better off than either GM or Chrysler? GM and Chrysler could have proceeded as Ford did and still survived, probably better off than they are now, and the taxpayers wouldn’t have had to fork over Billions of $$$$.

    The stimulus was initiated by Obama, Reid and Pelosi. But can they really take credit for doing something that many people, including many economists, believe shouldn’t have been done? That doing so didn’t actually help the economy(or hurt it), but only resulted in over $1 Trillion more debt(if you take into consideration the items from the stimulus that were rolled into the permanent budget). And, if you remember, Obama claimed that without the stimulus, unemployment would reach very high numbers, but with it, would remain below 8%.

    So, what exactly can Obama take credit for concerning the financial crisis of 2008?

  6. 7


    @johngalt, #6:

    Is the assertion that An economic disaster would have ensued without aggressive intervention any more hypothetical than the assertion that Everything would have worked out just fine if the government had done nothing at all, and the economy would now be in far better shape?

    Most top economists thought stimulus was necessary at the time. In retrospect, most still believe that it was, and would argue that the stimulus actually worked. Then we’ve got the deniers, who delight in things like cost-per-job calculations, as if the entire point of the exercise were to buy jobs at the lowest possible cost per unit. $278,000 per job! Why didn’t you just cut everybody a check?

    They’re not actually missing the point. Most, I suspect, understand it. What they’re doing with arguments like that is engaging in willful misdirection.

    Consumers were deeply in debt. They weren’t going to continue spending on credit. As unemployment rose, consumer spending declined. That reduction in consumption lowered the demand for goods and services even further, which in turn resulted in even more job losses. It was an economic death spiral.

    The entire point of the stimulus wasn’t to buy X number of jobs for X number of dollars, but to inject large amounts money into the economy in order to increase consumption and break the vicious cycle. That’s what was done. As a result, the vicious cycle was broken.

    Lowering rich people’s taxes seemed to be the only republican suggestion. Unfortunately, the rich don’t buy a wide enough range of everyday goods and services in sufficient quantities to turn around a situation like we had in 2008. Republicans weren’t so enthusiastic about lowering taxes for the average consumer. They had little use for public works projects. They did accept federal dollars to maintain their state and local services when their tax revenues declined, but turned around and attacked the programs that made those dollars available.

    How would the economy have turned around if republicans had been left in charge? Given the responses to the deepening recession that they proposed at the time, I can find no logical reason to believe that it would have.

  7. 8


    Simplification of the rules of Obamanomics:

    (1) If it looks good, take credit.
    (2) If it looks bad, blame whoever else possible.
    (3) If it looks questionable: use creative numerology, focus on facts that may be used to spin it to look good. Then apply rule #1.
    (4) If Obama can’t take credit: ignore the truth, misrepresent facts and spin it as bad. Apply rule #2.
    (5) If none of the above rules can be applied, change the subject and sling mud.
    (6) Rinse and repeat as needed.

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