President Obama Saved the Economy. It Wasn't Enough

Why his presidency was a bloodbath for the Democratic Party
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2016 6:59 PM CST
He turned around the economy and is nearly as popular as Ronald Reagan, so why couldn't President Obama save the Democratic Party?   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Newser) – Faced with an "economy in crisis" when he took office in 2008, President Obama preached recovery. And he actually accomplished it, leaving behind a legacy of higher wages and nearly full employment. So why then does his legacy also include "the more than 1,000 Democrats who lost their elections during his two terms," giving Republicans "total control in half of America's states." According to Stanley and Anna Greenberg, writing in the New York Times, it's because recovery wasn't good enough for voters—and Obama didn't realize it. "They want more than a recovery," the Greenbergs write. "They want an economy and government that works for them, and that task is unfinished."

The Greenbergs identify a number of specific reasons Obama—despite a high approval rating—may actually have been bad for Democrats.. First, he "never made wage stagnation and growing inequality central to his economic mission," leaving a succession of bailouts to grab the headlines. He also didn't do enough to explain his policies to the American people, counting instead on the results of those policies to make his point. They argue Obama also didn't do enough to support the labor movement, highlighted by his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership while unions fought against it. Without their own version of the Koch brothers, unions are indispensable to Democratic success at the state level. Read the full piece here. (Read more Barack Obama stories.)

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