The Real Obama Liberal Legacy: Recovery Summer

John Boehner

The end of the Obama presidency is near. In its wake are a string of broken promises, a stagnant economy, growing global threats, and an anxious nation.

Predictably, the president has begun to put his spin on the last eight years. He’s even taken to parroting conservative themes—channeling Reagan, some have suggested—to recast his time in office as somehow centrist. But let’s get real. No one’s being fooled. The real Obama legacy is one of sprawling liberalism, divisive identity politics, bigger government, and America ceding leadership in the world.

Today we’re introducing a new periodic series—The Real Obama Liberal Legacy—to highlight the results of liberal progressivism put into practice. Republicans are offering A Better Way, but we must also not overlook the failures of the last eight years.

First up, Recovery Summer.

The promise: “I’m calling this the summer of recovery,” Vice President Biden declared in July 2010 amid a months-long campaign by the administration to sell its stimulus plan to the public.

The reality: Remember how well the economy recovered that summer? Yeah…we don’t either. In fact, with the middle class disappearing and wages stagnant, we still haven’t really recovered. A new nonpartisan study shows that the president’s policies “produced the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression.” 

What went wrong: The stimulus package passed in 2009 was full of pet projects, from $3.4 million for that tortoise eco-passage tunnel (no joke) to the corrupt $535 million Solyndra experiment (we’ll get to that later). Or how about the $783,000 that was spent on a study of why young people consume malt liquor and marijuana? Millions of dollars went simply to highway signs that advertised stimulus-funded projects.

Talk about malarkey: Then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner contributed to the Recovery Summer push with the now-infamous op-ed headline: “Welcome to the Recovery.” Days later, the Labor Department reported that the economy had lost another 131,000 jobs.

Wipeout: There would be no sequel to Recovery Summer. By early 2011, the White House decided to stop defending the “stimulus” or even using the word altogether. “It was pretty obvious that people didn’t see a difference in the economy yet,” Bill Daley, the president’s chief of staff at the time, said. 

There’s a better way: Recovery Summer is a microcosm of the president’s economic legacy: boasts and slogans giving way to anxiety and stagnation. There is a better way to grow our economy. Learn more about our plan at

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