Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made the Sunday talk-show rounds this morning, but seemed to have a little difficulty in getting his talking points straight. On Meet the Press, David Gregory had to ask Geithner twice whether he’d call the economic policies of the Obama administration a success. Geithner finally said that they have proven “remarkably successful,” even though nominal unemployment has been above the 8% mark that Barack Obama promised his policies would prevent for 38 straight months, and real unemployment rests somewhere between 11-12%:
Geithner wants us to compare the effectiveness of Obama’s policies against those of other recoveries. Fortunately, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve has an app for that. Let’s just look at the comparison from the points of recovery for each of the post-WWII recessions in employment:
It’s the third-worst recovery performance when one includes the 1980-81 double dip as two separate data tracks. The 2001 recovery took longer, too, but that’s in part because it didn’t have as much ground to make up.
How about in economic output? The Obama recovery is the worst post-WWII recovery in terms of growth:
I didn’t bring up growth by accident, either. In his other appearance today on ABC’s This Week, Geithner couldn’t state with any certainty whether the “remarkably successful” Obamanomics policies would produce a third straight spring of stagnation:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he believed the economy is “gradually getting stronger,” but said “we can’t tell yet” whether growth has stalled as it has in previous spring months during the Obama administration.
“We can’t tell yet,” Geithner said on “This Week” when asked if the same pattern from previous years was repeating, with strong growth in early months of the year, followed by a slow-down, as happened the last two years.
“But if you look back at what happened in 2010 and 2011, you’re right that you saw some early strength in the beginning of the year,” Geithner said. “But then what happened was, the crisis in Europe in 2010 and 2011 and then the crisis in Japan and then the oil shock caused growth to slow. And then in ’11, it was made worse by the – by all the political drama around the debt limit, which was very damaging to confidence.”
Geithner had to admit the obvious:
He acknowledged that not all Americans have felt that improvement, with a new ABC News/Washington poll last week showing that 76 percent of Americans still believe the country is in a recession.
“Well, it’s obviously still a very tough economy out there,” Geithner said.
Obviously. And it’s equally obvious that even when using Geithner’s own comparisons, it’s the worst-handled recession in over 60 years. No wonder Geithner declines to commit to a prediction of significant growth in the coming months.