I find it amusing that people will look at the state of the economy and depending on their political view will either give credit or blame to the guy at the top. The fact is, aside from Tax policy, which requires cooperation from congress, and Fed Nominations, the president really has very little influence over the economy. And Tax policy is an oversimplification, but yet politicians run on this all the time and many voters who don't know jack about economics will buy it hook line and sinker. Here are some other things I will point out and then continue on this point.
1. Many people are quick to give Bill Clinton credit for the "surplus" during his years. If you take a closer look at other things during these years. The Republicans controlled congress for 6 of these years at the same time and any thing that Bill Clinton would have done to help the economy would have had to go through Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole first.
2. 9-11 happened, which is something that no politician can control. This slowed the economy for a bit for obvious reasons. One thing that Bush could control that he erred on was dealing with 9-11 by going to war with Iraq. This had other consequences which I will illustrate.
3. People forget how expensive Oil and Gas became toward the latter part of Bush's presidency. Part of this was due to the War causing some supply issues. But I think most of this was just pure greed and speculation on the part of Wall Street. In the grand scheme of things, a president really can't do a whole lot to address this without the help of congress. That being said, these people in congress need Wall Street to keep them in power. And sadly that will not change without a constitutional amendment, as the supreme court has made it clear the constitution does not allow campaign finance restrictions.
4. The Democrats took the House and the Senate back in 2006 after voters became frustrated with the endless wars that Bush was going to (at the influence of Cheney). The great recession happened two years later. I would love to see these charts about who is president with GDP changed to reflect which party controlled congress. Just saying.
5. One other issue that caused the recession was debt. Too many people were buying things on credit that couldn't afford them. They got too much into debt and the whole economy crashed, and financial giants collapsed. Things are getting too expensive, and its not healthy for long term success. I am really worried about this long term in places like San Francisco and New York, where things are so expensive no one can afford to live in these places anymore. This is not healthy. I hear a lot of talk about income inequality, which is a big issue. It seems to be worst in the biggest cities in the country, such as New York, Boston, LA, San Francisco, etc. And no one seems to be able to deal with this.
So where does that bring us today. I see some of the same issues from the past creeping up again. A society that is financed by large debt, Wall Street having too much influence over both political parties, unrest in key oil producing countries (Iran, Venezuela, etc), and income inequality. So how do we fix it? I don't think there is any legislative policy that will fix the issue as people will get around any legislative solution to protect their own assets. But what needs to happen? Here are some things.
1. Corporations need to stop with the stock buybacks and use that money instead to invest in their companies (Both their workforce and growth). If corporations had done this with the Tax Cuts this year, people would be much better off. Instead, as is well documented, Public companies have chosen to buy back stock instead of actually investing their money. I have looked into this, and in most cases the stock buybacks have done very little to affect the share price. So essentially what has happened is the CEOs have caused this money to disappear into thin air. They spin it as returning money to shareholders, but if I am a shareholder I haven't seen a dime of this money.
2. Wall Street needs to get out of this mindset that employees should not be paid. On an earnings call earlier this year, two Wall Street analysts went hard on American Airlines CEO Doug Parker for giving their workers a pay raise. If I was any politician running for office, the sound byte from this earnings call would be featured on every campaign ad I ran, and if I were actually in office, I would be calling these guys out by name.
3. Some of these big cities may need to rethink their zoning laws. And also rethink foreign investment. Down in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Arden (IMO one of the best PMs on the planet), took action on this, and it helped the situation immensely.
4. Take a close look at why college tuition costs have risen so much. This has led to the Student Loan crisis. We need to see if there is any correlation between the government providing financial aid, and colleges using the aid to line their own pockets and price gouge.
5. This is more expensive, but we need to seriously look at expanding public transit in bigger cites, and moving away from a society where everyone has to own a car. This would have economic and environmental benefits.