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Obama's First 100 Days: Economy


As President Obama puts it, he inherited a mess when he took office. Since the first day, the president has not only pledged to make the economy his number one priority, he has promised to fix it. But how much has Mr. Obama really been able to accomplish in his first 100 days?

He was swept into office on a message of hope - a national yearning for better days amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," Mr. Obama said.

But 100 days later, with the country still mired in recession and escalating unemployment, critics say the president's efforts do not address the country's long term needs.

"I would give the president a mixed rating for the first 100 days probably a little more towards the negative side than the positive," Alan Viard, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute said. He says under the president's three and a half trillion dollar budget, government revenues will not keep pace with growth in social security spending and Medicare.

And he says the administration's stimulus plan, which includes tax cuts for the middle class, will provide only short term relief.

"Providing that kind of tax cut does look like the taxpayers are coming out ahead, because they're getting money today, but where does that money come from?" he asked. "It doesn't come out of thin air. Instead that will have to be paid for out of future taxes, either by people later on in their lives today or by our children."

But the president's supporters say the nation's problems demand immediate solutions. Some say it's too soon to tell if Mr. Obama's policies will succeed. Research analyst Joshua Picker at the Center for American Progress is convinced the president is on the right track. "Some of the retail sales numbers and consumer spending numbers appear to be getting a little bit better" Picker says, "and at the same time, what we're seeing in the housing markets is encouraging, but we've still got a long way to go."

While he acknowledges the president's policies are not perfect, Picker says Obama's performance on the economy, both domestically and abroad, gives Americans something more immediate - optimism.

"I think the president has done an extraordinary job in recognizing the problems that we face. I think time will tell whether all the measures taken thus far are as effective as we would like them to be, but I'm very optimistic," Picker adds.

But a hundred days into this young presidency - its an optimism tempered by reality.

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