Donald Trump has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for saying that “the American dream is dead.” But instead of slaying the messenger, critics on both sides of the aisle should be examining why so many Americans agree with Mr. Trump and why the Obama “recovery” has been so painful for so many.
When President Obama took office during the 2007-09 recession no president was ever better positioned to lead a strong recovery. With an impressive electoral mandate, Mr. Obama enjoyed a filibuster-proof Senate supermajority, a 79-vote House majority and a nation ready for change. History too seemed to smile on Mr. Obama’s endeavor. The recession ended just six months into his first term and, with the sole exception of the Great Depression, every severe recession since 1870—when reliable annual data were first collected—had been followed by a vigorous recovery.
In his capacity to implement his program, Mr. Obama stood as a colossus with the fates on his side, the vast power of government at his disposal and no one—not Congress, the Supreme Court or the Federal Reserve—willing or able to deny his will. No resources were spared. The Obama $836 billion stimulus exceeded all previous U.S. economic stimulus programs combined. The Treasury borrowed over $1 trillion a year for four years in a row, according to Office of Management and Budget data. The Federal Reserve injected $3 trillion of new reserves into the banking system, generating record-low interest rates.