President Obama this morning signaled he will seek to use the shutdown to his political advantage, launching what is sure to be a repeatedly told message that GOP tactics harmed the economy.
Nearly five years into Obama’s reign, the economy is still growing painfully slowly and hiring is mediocre. But Obama has managed to elude much of the blame, and he intends to keep it that way.
Speaking at the White House, Obama charged that the shutdown, for which he says Republicans bear responsibility, slowed economic growth:
These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy. We don’t know yet the full scope of the damage, but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.
We know that families have gone without paychecks or services they depend on. We know that potential homebuyers have gotten fewer mortgages, and small business loans have been put on hold. We know that consumers have cut back on spending, and that half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months.
We know that just the threat of default — of America not paying all the bills that we owe on time — increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.
Obama went on to claim that “nothing has done more to undermine our economy these past three years than the kind of tactics that create these manufactured crises.”
But he offered no proof that any of the shutdown’s effects have actually slowed the economy. He cited as proof a threat by a credit rating agency to downgrade America’s rating- but that’s not proof of a slowdown, and it hasn’t actually happened.
Republicans even aided our enemies, Obama charged.
But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle that we’ve seen these past several weeks. It’s encouraged our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.
The Bush administration has now receded five years into the past, so Obama doesn’t have his predecessor to kick around anymore. He needs a whipping boy. A few new red herrings for his pond. And now, he thinks, he has them.
Here is the full video of Professor Obama’s morning lecture, in case you slept in and missed class.