On March 26th, President Barack Obama gave a speech in Alabama in regards to consumer protection and the economy. The President makes strong claims regarding his accomplishments for the nation throughout his presidency. While most claims are true, many statements are fluffed up in order to an added level of hype to his term as President. Taken out of their true context, many of the claims the President makes seem greater than they really are. Compared to other presidencies and situations during those terms, Obama’s accomplishments can be seen as miniscule and even over exaggerated. Nonetheless, the majority of his statements are accurate claims that have indeed helped advance the well being of the nation.
On accomplishments during Obama’s term:
Before the speech commences, NAACP member Ollie Parham shared her struggles with debt and her vicious cycle that started with payday loans. Since 2013, Parham has served as the Economic Chair person for the Alabama state conference NAACP. With that, President Obama was introduced and opened up his speech with many accomplishments acquired within the job creation in private sectors. According to President Obama’s speech, the administration is on a 60-month streak, that’s a five-year streak, of private job sector creation. However, viewers have to take into account the fact that his term was acquired right after the recession that took place under the Bush administration. On June 14th, President Obama acknowledged that he created more private-sector jobs in the past 27 months than President Bush did “during the entire seven years before the recession.” Nonetheless, his term did achieve a five-year growth within private sector jobs but sounds more glamorous than it really easy because of the low economic level the nation was in.
Additionally, Obama states that when he first came into office in 2009, the unemployment rate was at 10% and that it is now at 5.5%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, these facts are true but only when percentages are compared in October of 2009 to October of 2015. Although employment rates have dropped significantly throughout Obama’s term, we can acknowledge that they have not been as drastic as 5% decreases year-round. In February of 2009 the rate was at 8.3% while in February of 2015 it was at 6.7%. With that, Forbes magazine and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm that there are more job openings now than at any time since 2001. Obama also states that wages are on the rise again. As we saw last year, minimum wage increased from $8 to $9 and conversations are ongoing in regards to raising it once more.
With a rise in employment, President Obama affirms that Ohio School graduation rate is up at an all time high. According to reports provided by the Ohio Department of Education this proves true for the state.
On the economy and middle-class tax payers:
President Obama transitions to talk about the Republicans in Congress unveiling their new budget that would hand out new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. According to the New York Times, this new budget would allow a balancing of the federal budget as well as a 10-year blueprint for taxes and spending. The plan also allows for $1 trillion in savings from cuts to low-income programs such as food stamps and welfare. Additionally the plan calls for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. President Obama added “it would cut investments in education to the lowest level since the year 2000.” Although specific cuts are planned for the education budget, Republicans are keeping the Pell Grant program making it “permanently sustainable” according to Representative Ken Buck, Republican of Colorado.
Additionally Obama states, “They [Republicans] say the reason they wanted this budget is because they have to eliminate deficits and debt.” However, the House of Congress states that their primary reasoning for calling this budget plan is to not only eliminate debts, but to also layout a blueprint to achieve sustainability.
To contradict that claim, the President highlights the fact that the deficit has come down two-thirds since he has been President. Although a true calculation according to White House analyst, the claim is not as exciting as it sounds.
According to Politifact.com, the deficit swelled back in 2009, which was the start of his presidency. The huge jump from 2008 to 2009 was a result of the massive stimulus program to jump start the cratering economy. With that, many analysts would argue that Obama was to some extent, responsible for the economic growth experienced over the years but cannot take full credit for it.
On the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
In addition to new budget plans by the Republicans, the 44th president announced that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau was created under his presidency in order to serve as an independent consumer watchdog. According to him, the organization has put over $5 billion back into the pockets of more than 15 million families and is now taking “new steps towards cracking down on some of the most abusive practices involving payday loans and title loans.” According to the CFPB website, they aim to help consumers in the market. Although I could not find a direct quantity of how much money they have recollected back to consumers, many news articles as well as the White House, attest to the statistic president Obama acknowledged. Additionally, on the same day the President gave this speech, the CFPB proposed regulations to rein in short-term payday, as cited by the President.
Lastly, there was one interesting claim that Obama made in regards to Payday Loan stores and their high usage in Alabama. The President stated that there are four times as many payday loan operations in Alabama than there are McDonald’s.
I was not a big believer about this but a recent study down by California State University Northridge shows that there are 1,177 payday lenders and 210 McDonald venues in the state.
Although slightly off, President Obama makes it clear that payday lending is out of control and hindering many low-income families nationwide.
President Obama had many great facts but tended to over exaggerate and over emphasize points. He needs more concise facts and new points to bring up in his speeches. Overall, a fairly truthful man.