The Republican Fantasy Of A Crippled America: 2009 Was Not An Economic Utopia

The Republican Fantasy Of A Crippled America: 2009 Was Not An Economic Utopia

In 2008, the economy crashed. President Obama came into office in January 2009, and Republicans immediately stated that their chief goal was to make Obama a one-term president. Their publicized strategy was not to provide aid to the suffering American people or to help the economy prosper, but solely to hurt Obama politically. In mindlessly following this ideological pipe dream, they have proven that they simply do not care about the American people above their politicization of public service.

The GOP debates have been painting the picture that Obama has crippled America, and that the POTUS is intentionally destroying the nation from within. What bad memories they have. Let’s go back to 2009 and relive the Great Recession that Obama inherited from his Republican predecessor, the one in which Obama has cultivated dramatic recovery.

When Obama was inaugurated in early 2009, the economy was free-falling. Banks were not lending money because so many banks around the nation were actively collapsing, and the banks that weren’t were afraid of long-term economic trouble.

Meanwhile, businesses were not spending money because so many either went bankrupt or were afraid of bankruptcy. And because banks were not lending money anyway, there was not much help for businesses to stay afloat.

On top of all of this, the American people were not buying from or supporting businesses because millions had lost their jobs, and many more feared they would lose theirs as well. And, because banks had no money to lend, credit was hard to come by. Americans tried to save what little money they could depend on, which was obviously unhelpful for businesses hoping to start profiting again.

This trifecta of insolvent economic bodies—banks, businesses and the people—coalesced into an epic downward economic spiral. President George W. Bush’s first stimulus package proved far too small to jumpstart the economy, and Obama moved swiftly to push through another stimulus package in order to inject capital into the stalled economic system. As the lender of last resort, the federal government was the last fail-safe to prevent the recession from becoming a second Great Depression.

And it worked. The American economy today is largely recovered from the Great Recession, and banks, businesses and the American people are all back to spending money again. By any economic standard, President Obama has overseen America’s struggle back from the brink of long-term depression, and instead of an economic lost generation, we have only lost a presidential term and a half.

America is far better positioned for economic success today than when Obama took office, and Republicans are disingenuous and categorically wrong when they unanimously agree on nationally-televised debate stages that America’s economy has been ruined by Obama. Reread the earlier paragraphs: 2009 was not an economic utopia sabotaged by Obama’s economic policies.

And remember that Republicans fought Obama’s economic policies tooth and nail. They publicly championed a strategy of ignoring the American people in order to focus wholly on denying the Obama administration any political victories at a time when Obama’s successes and the American people’s successes were the same: a recovered economy.

Yet the worst part is that the GOP’s opposition to Obama’s federal expenditures were monumental acts of hypocrisy. These same Republicans worked with the Bush Administration to give back President Clinton’s budget surplus, and added trillions to the debt by governing without worry over ballooning deficits. But suddenly these “fiscal” conservatives cared about the national debt when Obama was working to catch the economy in the middle of a free-fall. The GOP opportunistically panicked that America had too much debt, and called for austerity, something that most economists agreed would not work because of the insolvent trifecta described above. This idea has been vindicated because Europe chose the path of austerity, and has had anemic growth over the last 7 years compared to the US.

And it’s not just the overall economic rebound that has proven Obama a capable president. Republicans swore that Obama would ruin the economy by bailing out the American car companies and passing healthcare reform, but America is better positioned today because of these efforts. Let’s examine them.

During the economic crisis some of the most iconic and famous American corporations in history, General Motors and Chrysler, were quickly heading towards bankruptcy, with Ford threatened as well. Obama moved to rescue these companies not just because they were an important part of the American economy and culture, but because they provided the livelihoods of millions of American workers whose families depended on their auto industry jobs. Republicans, rather than giving a shit about those millions of American families, worried instead about abstract, ideological philosophies like market efficiency, and called for, ironically, Darwinist economic policies intended to punish unionized companies without concern for the potential meltdown of the entire American economy. Ironic because these same politicians do not believe that this same evolutionary process exists in nature…just within their faith-based credo of money-over-people capitalism.

In the 6 years since the bailouts, though, the American car companies have since become very profitable, created tens of thousands of news jobs, and have repaid their government loans in full (with $15 billion in profit) to taxpayers. More importantly, and in contrast to anti-Obama doomsday sayers’ claims, America did not trash its free market capitalism roots or become a socialistic hellscape.

Regarding Obamacare’s integration into the economy, the doomsday sayers were even more mistaken. Prior to 2010, American health care was a ridiculous clusterfuck that hurt thousands of Americans for the sake of greedy insurance companies’ bottom line. Obama and Democrats worked tirelessly to fix an objectively sick system, one that was notorious for preventing sick people from getting health insurance and for allowing insurance companies to kick the sick off their plans in order to increase profits. The health insurance industry quite often forced sick Americans to choose between ruining their families’ economic wellbeing and continuing to live.

Obama and the Democrats vowed to fix this, and drafted the Affordable Care Act. This law was then purposely sabotaged by Republicans, who had no intention of ever voting for it anyway. Rather than come up with any kind of alternative plan to fix the problems they admitted hurt countless Americans, Republicans chose instead to stick with the objectively terrible status quo.

The GOP then lied to demonize the ACA law calling it Obamacare, which was intended as an insult, though that has obviously backfired now that Obamacare is working and giving millions of Americans healthcare that they otherwise would not have. Republicans manipulated the Tea Party into believing inaccurate Obamacare smears, most infamously that the ACA would allow Obama to kill America’s grandparents, and Republican politicians publicly hoped that Obamacare would fail so that Obama would look bad. Once again, an Obama Administration success would have been an American success: improved healthcare. And Republicans refused to cooperate, resorting to hyper-partisan Congressional subterfuge.

In the almost six years since the ACA was passed, Republicans have attempted to repeal it in over 60 separate, futile votes, wasting Congressional time, effort, and money. When a repeal effort finally passed through Congress earlier this month, Obama promptly vetoed it, and Republicans are nowhere near the number of votes needed to override the veto. It is a textbook example of partisan dereliction.

Meanwhile, several Republican presidential candidates continue to call for the total repeal of Obamacare without any alternative plan to prevent Americans from going back to the abusive health care system that the ACA polices. Republicans have had six years to draft an Obamacare alternative, and they have nothing. The only conclusion possible is that Republicans simply do not care about the Americans who would be hurt or even die by their repeal efforts absent a functional replacement plan that would fix the problems Republicans themselves admit existed within the pre-Obamacare status quo. For Republicans, it is more important that Obama looks bad than for Americans to have quality health insurance.

Republicans do not deserve the presidency in 2016. They simply do not care about Americans. If they cared, they would have come up with even a generic Obamacare alternative. If they cared, they’d realize that sometimes people’s lives matter more than their pure, free market ideology. If they cared, they’d stop trying to convince American voters that the economy is in shambles, when in reality America is much better off today in 2016 than in January 2009 when Obama took office.

Vote Democratic in 2016, and pass it on.

Levi Olson

Levi Olson

Senior political columnist here at Contemptor, and a political scientist proving that American conservatism is a sham. Follow me on Tumblr at or on Facebook & Twitter @theleviolson.