Even the casual observer can’t escape the constant assault on Barack Obama. His dropping in popularity is easily understood when you listen to the constant droning of false indignation, false equivalency, false outrage, misleading, out of context, and specious misrepresentations and lies that sometimes contain a kernel of truth, but often little more.
Then there is Reagan.
Like many who call themselves liberal or progressive, I never liked Reagan as a President. On the good side he was charming. Others see more than charm and consider him to be as close to a god as can be without being blasphemous, worthy of solely representing Mount Rushmore. He is the measure of presidential greatness according to Republicans. Obama, on the other hand, is the measure of failure according to the same. Just how does their worst compare with their best?
This is what I found. (Of course, you must go past the loop-de-lu-squigle-thingy)
Conservatives speak of their three legs of their conservative stool: social conservatism (best represented by Evangelicals), foreign policy conservatism (best represented by NeoCons) and economic conservatism (best represented by the TeaParty)
I'll skip the first two, as these (particularly social issues) are are almost completely ideologically and partisan driven and without measure. (Oh, and considering Iran/Contra--the most horrendous of any scandal in the history of this country--almost single-handedly disqualifies Reagan from one leg, while his anti gay/anti AIDS sentiment (and treatment of the poor*) does the same for the other.)
Which leaves us with the economic. Here, we have numbers. And we have a similarity in that both Presidents entered office at, or near, the beginning of a recession. Of course one was inflation driven, correctable by raising interest rates, and the other (also the more devastating by GDP measures) driven by wealth devaluation, and correctable only by time.
Just how does this "horrible" Barack Obama compare to the god-like Ronald Reagan? The following comes from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Census Bureau, the Treasury Dept, and US Inflation Calculator. The comparison is for the first four budget years (Oct-Sept) of each President.
The average Dow gain per year: Reagan, 11.81%; Obama, 11.72%
The average Unemployment Rate: Reagan, 8.58%; Obama, 8.69%
The average jobs (thousands) created per year: Reagan, 1638; Obama, 1645
Poverty Rate (3 years only): Reagan, from 14% - 14.4%; Obama, from 14.3% - 15%
By these measures, both Presidents are remarkably similar.
But then there is GDP, debt, and spending. Combining GDP relative to debt is the most common measure for these two.
Average yearly debt to GDP increase: Reagan: 7.83%; Obama, 4.84%
Average Federal government spending increase using Total Expenditure data from BEA:
Reagan: 8.89%; Obama 1.02%
Subtracting inflation: Reagan: 4.21%; Obama, -1.08%
Yes, the guy noted for “small government”, had a 61.7% greater rate of increase in the debt/GDP (that is the debt increased far more relative to GDP output), and outspent the communist (rate of increase) by nearly 9 times.
Some have remarked that Obama spent (via the early stimulus spending) $100B – $200B during Bush’s last budget year (2009). This is true, but this only changes the results slightly and we have no way of knowing just what Bush would have done since he was also stimulus prone. Besides, every President who goes full term is responsible for four budgets years—no more, no less. Also note, Obama is the only President since the Great Depression, besides Truman, to have a spending rate increase that is negative when inflation is factored.
So, if Obama were more Reaganesque, the debt by now would be nearly 22 trillion dollars, based on the rate of increase by Reagan, and would be 34 trillion by the end of the term.
Since he is not Reaganesque, since the debt is not $22T, since debt and spending are far more in control, relatively, then the clear winner is Obama. (Yes Congress is a factor, but only one person signs the budget). Obama has a better economic record (as the indicators are much the same but with less debt and spending), did not have Iran/Contra (deliberately violating law, funding murderers and rapists with money from terrorists who were provided weaponry, via Israel, essentially stolen from the US government), and did not ignore the more vulnerable.
* I leave with this. Everyone “knows” Reagan was a tax cutter. Few know that this is not entirely true. Based on CBO data (Pub 43373), the bottom quintile (fifth) paid 11% more in Federal taxes (all categories) during his two terms than the years immediately preceding. Also, approximately half to the next quintile (the third decile) also paid more. So, approximately 30% of Americans, due to the change in income taxes and payroll taxes, paid more due to Reagan’s “tax cuts”.