Looking Back on Barack
Upon entering office in 2009, US President Barack Obama confronted conditions more adverse than any incoming president had faced in many decades. Yet, despite his opponents' obstructionism, Obama achieved crucial economic and foreign-policy successes.
BASEL – Any assessment of Barack Obama’s eight-year US presidency should start at the beginning: his first inauguration, on January 20, 2009. The US economy was in free-fall: financial markets had seized up, GDP was shrinking, and employment was plummeting, with some 800,000 jobs being lost each month. And two ill-conceived and badly executed foreign wars were underway.
In short, upon entering office, Obama confronted conditions more adverse than any incoming president had faced in many decades. True, Franklin D. Roosevelt inherited the Great Depression and Abraham Lincoln took office as the Civil War erupted. But who else entered the White House facing both an economic and a national-security crisis?
To tackle the economic crisis, Obama launched a fiscal stimulus and rescue programs for the financial system and the auto industry – policies that complemented and reinforced the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive and innovative monetary easing. Republicans nearly unanimously opposed the stimulus. And almost everybody was critical of the rescue programs, urging Obama either to nationalize the banks and auto companies or let them collapse.