Comparing job growth among presidents
Ron Brownstein notes that "if the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency."
As Brownstein admits, this can seem to say more than it actually does. For all its unpopularity, for instance, TARP worked to stabilize the financial sector and it was put in place by the Bush administration. So the Obama administration owes them a thank you card for that one. On the other hand, the Bush administration did nothing about the housing boom -- save to encourage it -- or the excesses in the financial sector, so that goes on the other side of the ledger.
You've also got the simple effect of timing. When George W. Bush entered office, unemployment was 4.2 percent. It was the tail end of a stock market boom driven by the tech bubble. When he left, it was 7.7 percent. But if he'd left one year before, it would've been 5 percent, which wouldn't look so bad.
What we can say is that George W. Bush's pre-crisis policies and regulatory approach contributed to a slew of economic catastrophes. He also ran huge deficits given that we were in a sustained period of growth. By contrast, Obama's stimulus has been, from an economic standpoint, suited to the times, and his administration has done an effective job finishing the stabilization of the financial sector. They've not done enough on housing, however.
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