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This is an important debate for us to have, and to then put behind us. So let's have it. There is a post on the rec list called "Obama did not save the economy. Social Security did."

The argument essentially boils down to an assertion (unmade, but clearly implied) that John McCain -- under whose putative presidency Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other "automatic stabilizers" would have presumably (under the diarist's scenario) operated as they did under Obama -- would have presided over an economy that followed the same or a similar trajectory than the one we have had since Obama took office.

This assertion can be answered in one word: Europe.

Take a look at Europe, where austerity was implemented during the same period when Obama's stimulus was moving through our economy. As mediocre as our growth has been, Europe is mired in a double-dip recession.

And the UK, which lies outside the Euro Zone, follows a similar story with its GDP.

Here is our GDP growth in recent years (and yes, I know this is a flawed measure, but it is useful for comparative purposes):
Looking at the data makes clear that the poster's argument is simply not an argument worth taking seriously. Sorry, it just isn't. Our economy is not humming, but it is significantly stronger (note, stronger doesn't mean strong) than that of Europe. If you want to take a guess at quantifying the impact of the Obama stimulus, just look at the difference between our growth and theirs, i.e. about 2% growth annually over the past four years in the U.S, and about 0% in Europe. The diarist's argument assumes that there is no difference.

And, after giving Obama credit for saving the auto industry, the diarist essentially dismisses this by talking about how he just did it "for the optics." So, even the things Obama does right, he does for the wrong reasons.

Anyone who doesn't agree with the diarist is, according to the post, a comfortable, middle-class professional. Many may be, many are not. But the diarist simply knows. Others may even be wealthy, just as was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Oh, and any defender of Obama is also a "nearly irredeemable idiot," an "imbecile" and a "simpleton" on matters of economics. Finally, the diarist dismisses labor and other Obama supporters (including Obama himself) as people who have "forgot what it's like being poor." These are not arguments, and need not be refuted.

So yes, criticize Barack Obama where he has made mistakes (not that folks were waiting for my permission to do so). Doing so is important and might even force him to tack left, something that would be good for the Democratic Party and, more importantly, for the country.

I'm not interested in questioning the motives or the life circumstances of the diarist, or anyone else on this site who either agrees or disagrees with me. The reality is that our economy is not good enough, it is not strong enough, and it is not delivering the growth that it is achieving in an equitable manner. Far too many in our country, those outside the top 1%, are being, in a word, screwed. Of that, there is no doubt. But that's not the argument made in the post in question.

The argument made, that Obama's policies did not "save" the economy, and that it was instead saved by Social Security and other preexisting economic stabilizers simply does not bear up to the light of scrutiny. Just take a look at Europe.

As bad as things are in this country, they would have been a lot worse had John McCain rather than Barack Obama been elected in 2008.

PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.


Would the U.S. economy fared the same under President McCain as under President Obama?

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