Barack Obama has had a bad day. His bad day actually started last Friday when the stock market dropped 500 points on news of Europe’s failure to deal with its own debt crisis. After the close of markets that day, Standard and Poors, one of the rating agencies for financial bonds, made a long feared announcement that it was downgrading the credit rating of the United States. To make matters worse, the U.S. federal debt was revealed to have reached 100 percent of GDP a few days earlier, a milestone not seen since 1947.
Over the weekend, investors and ordinary Americans (who are one and the same if they have a pension, an IRA, or a 401k) contemplated how the downgrade would affect Wall Street and Main Street. To add to the somber mood, on Saturday, August 6, an Afghan insurgent shot down a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter killing thirty Americans, including members of a U.S. Navy SEAL team. Seven Afghan soldiers and a civilian interpreter were also killed.
There was much speculation as to what would happen when the financial markets around the world opened today, the first trading day after the announcement of the downgrade. What happened was what some observers called a financial “bloodbath.” The stock market crashed for the second time in two trading days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 635 points to a level that erased almost ten months of gains. Financial markets around the world were hit.
At this point, many economists are warning that the United States is likely entering a second recession. In a Dick Morris column, James Fitzgibbon, director of the Highland Fund called today “the second phase of the meltdown.” Fitzgibbon believes that “stocks, real estate will collapse and keep falling into 2013. The lows of 2009 will be easily taken out on the downside.” Chillingly, Fitzgibbon believes that the worst is yet to come: “The real horror will be later in the year when the U.S. Treasury Bond goes into a freefall. Then a depression is possible. Soaring interest rates. Collapsing asset values. Contracting economic activity. Surging unemployment. And business closures.”
This is a particularly bad day for Barack Obama for several reasons. ABC News notes that the selloff sharpened after the president spoke in the afternoon and called for more taxes. This shows that investors have lost faith in President Obama’s vision for the nation. They realize that the fiscal problems of the United States are too great to be fixed by raising taxes on the wealthy. The only solution to the problem of overspending and deficit reduction is to cut spending, a prescription that President Obama and the Democrats have steadfastly resisted.
The second reason that today was a bad day for President Obama is that he must realize that the new crisis is his fault. This is not a crisis that he inherited from George Bush. This one is purely of his own making. The debt crisis is due to the fact that President Obama’s Keynesian stimulus projects have failed miserably while increasing the federal debt by a third. President Obama has no serious plan to repay any of the money that he has borrowed in the name of the American people.
The president must also realize that, as the U.S. economy sinks into another recession, his hopes for re-election also diminish. Voters generally vote their wallets. If times are good economically, they vote for the incumbent. If times are hard, they vote against the incumbent. In a Gallup poll taken before the recent stock market crashes, President Obama’s approval rating was down to 43 percent (with 48 percent disapproving). With the bad economic news, his approval rating will only fall further.
This is not altogether unfair. The current carnage in the world’s financial markets is the logical end result of his policies. His administration has been an unending saga of new regulations on business, not the least of which is Obamacare, that stifle job growth. His solution to the first economic crisis was to borrow money and spend it on pet projects. An additional attempt to resolve the crisis was to print more money through the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing programs. As a result, the United States has the highest unemployment in recent history, a downgraded credit rating, and a devalued dollar, all due to President Obama.
In Georgia, the unemployment rate is even higher than the national average. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia’s unemployment rate is at 9.9 percent while the national rate is 9.2 percent. Three years after the initial crash of 2008, Georgia’s foreclosure rate remains the sixth highest in the nation according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. This has led to falling tax revenues for the state and local governments, which has in turn led to massive layoffs of government workers and teachers. Untold numbers of Georgia businesses have failed. Georgians have watched their retirement plans dwindle year after year. After the events of the past few days, it seems that all of this will get worse. Barack Obama lost Georgia by five percent of the vote in 2008. He will likely lose by much more in 2012.
The last bad thing that happened to Barack Obama today is that Timothy Geithner informed the president that he would not resign as secretary of the treasury. As one of President Obama’s most trusted economic advisors, Geithner bears much of the responsibility for the current economic fiasco. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, are also reportedly not resigning.
It is a bad day for President Obama. Unless he reverses his economic course, a change that he is most likely incapable of making, he will go down in history as a latter-day Herbert Hoover. He will be the president who spent the United States into an economic calamity, the likes of which has not been seen in eighty years. That is bad for President Obama, but worse for the rest of us.
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