There’s no denying that we still have a ways to go before we are really out of economic tough times. Nonetheless, there are some folks who try to claim that Obama and the Democratic Congress haven’t helped the situation. While I might disagree with some of the details of their decisions, I think most of Obama’s harshest critics simply aren’t looking at the context in which the president and Congress were making these decisions. Based upon what he said when speaking earlier this week at Greenspring Village, it appears as though Rep. Gerry Connolly aggress looking at the context for these decisions is extremely important.
When Gerry began speaking about the economy, for instance, he drew attention to the fact that when he was sworn into office in January of ’09 the country was facing the highest unemployment rate it had seen since 1982. To make it worse, we were losing 700,000 jobs a month and if that pace had continued we would have been at unemployment rates similar to the Great Depression (he did point out that some communities are seeing those type of numbers). As I have seen him do on several occasions beforehand, Gerry also highlighted how the single largest bank failure wasn’t in1929; it was in 2008. And the largest single quarterly loss wasn’t in 1929; it was the last quarter in 2008.
All of this meant that economists from both sides of the aisle were advising Gerry and other members of Congress that action absolutely had to be taken to simulate the economy. If nothing was done, then the recession would have turned into a depression could have potentially taken a decade or more to recover from. Despite the fact that the Republicans in the House of Representatives decided to unanimously vote against the stimulus bill in hopes of gaining some political points, the state of the economy made Gerry feel as though he had a duty to support the legislation since it would greatly benefit the general public.
Here’s the video of Gerry giving the background information:
I thought it was very smart of Gerry to provide the context information because there are some people who feel as though Congress hasn’t done enough. Of course, the Republicans who don’t want Obama to have any legislative victories push this concept along. Unfortunately, the rhetoric pushed by the Republicans also frequently makes it way into newscasts which means its easy for the public to look past the progress that already been made. Explaining the contextual information then makes it easier to understand how the stimulus bill and other legislation have actually helped the American people.
In looking at some of the good things that have resulted from the stimulus bill, Gerry noted that unemployment rates are usually the last thing to improve. With that being said, however, he highlighted how we just saw a sharp drop in new unemployment claims which is a very good sign. Furthermore, the banking sector is stabilizing (although the flow of credit could still improve), consumer spending is up 2%, which indicates an increased amount of confidence in the economy, and the housing market has stabilized. With all that being said, Gerry did also highlight that “we didn’t get into this ditch over night and we’re not going to solve it over night.” He continued by saying, “but I think we have stabilized the situation and put ourselves back on a path for serious sustained growth. I think you’re going to see that in 2010.”
Here’s the video of Gerry speaking about the impact of the stimulus.