Want to compare Reagan to Obama, apples to apples? Here it is, and Obama is no Reagan! In fact, let’s look at the whole picture.
President Obama is running an average annual unemployment rate of 9.3% for his first term, during most of which he had a completely Democrat controlled Congress at one time with a filibuster proof Senate, while President Reagan had an average annual unemployment rate of 8.85% in his first term while dealing with a split Congress at times and a Democrat controlled Congress during part of his first term.
President Reagan was forced to negotiate and deal with the opposing political party, especially since he never had a filibuster proof Senate, while President Obama enjoyed a super majority in the House and Senate for at least part of his first term during which time he could have done just about anything he wanted economically – and did.
And remember, President Reagan also had to contend with a collapse in the housing market, a collapse in the oil market and the collapse in the Savings and Loan industry as well as the dire economic situation bequeathed him by President Carter.
However, Presidents Reagan and Obama did have something in common. President Obama has pledged to fundamentally transform America – his words, and President Reagan did fundamentally transform the US economy from Keynesian to Supply-Side economics.
So, can we say that Obama’s persistent unemployment is due to the depth of the recession or his fundamental transformation since President Reagan did show us about how long it takes, at least through unemployment figures, to fundamentally transform an economy the size and scope of the U.S. economy?
But at the end of the day, President Obama is not even on a trajectory to decrease unemployment to manageable levels 2 ½ years into his presidency. In fact, he is most recently on an upward trajectory and our economy is slowing yet again from 3.1% growth in the 4th Quarter of 2010 to an anemic 1.8% in the 1st Quarter of 2011 (US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis) .