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The Tea Party's accomplishment in 5 years-obstruction and subpar economic growth

Senator Ted Cruz speaks at a rally supported by military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans, regarding the government shutdown on October 13, 2013 in Washington, DC
Senator Ted Cruz speaks at a rally supported by military veterans, Tea Party activists and Republicans, regarding the government shutdown on October 13, 2013 in Washington, DC
Getty/AFP/File, Andrew Burton

Five years ago Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to yell about the stimulus bill and propose a “tea party”. There began the most hateful and destructive political movement in our country's history. In five years the only thing the Tea Party has accomplished was a review of the president's long-form birth certificate after denying he was born here, a reduction in America's credit rating after threatening to put the nation into default, and the kind of unrelenting obstruction that has resulted in the country's subpar economic growth (albeit we are in a much better place then when the President first took office). Moreover, the nerve of Santelli and his “free-market” Repubican Wall Street types is astounding. They crash the economy with their free market casino shenanigans, destroy millions of jobs, and then propose creating a Tea Party and sending extremist Tea Party politicians to Congress that have done nothing but obstruct and refuse to help fix the economy.

Had the President not faced the obstruction from the "Teapublicans" on the amount of stimulus and his subsequent jobs bills, economic growth would have been stronger. Just look at the facts. Driven by the reckless policies of the Bush Administration, in the first half of 2008 the country’s GDP began stagnating, and in the second half it began to contract at an alarming rate. In the 4th quarter of 2008, the U.S. GDP declined by an astounding 9%. As the economy was shrinking, businesses began laying people off and many were forced to close. The U.S. economy was in a free-fall by the time President Obama took office. There were more jobs lost in the month of January 2009 then there had been in any month since the Great Depression.

Then on February 17 2009, Congress passed and the President signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka as the “stimulus bill”, to stop the bleeding and help turn the economy around by injecting billions of dollars into the economy. This was done through infrastructure investments, aid to the states, and tax breaks. The effects were immediate. In the second quarter of 2009 - the first full quarter after the stimulus passed - the economy only contracted by 0.7 percent rate. In the third quarter of 2009, the economy began to grow again as job losses began slowing considerably.

Before the stimulus, we were losing more and more jobs each month. In George Bush’s last 3 months alone, the economy had lost 2 million jobs. After the stimulus was passed job losses began trending down until eventually we started adding jobs again. As of December 2013, the economy had gained a net total of 3,246,000 jobs since President Obama first took office. The unemployment rate declined from a peak 10% during his first nine months in office to around the 6.7% level currently. One of America's most important industries was saved by the stimulus - the U.S. auto industry. By funding General Motors and Chrysler Group as they worked their way through bankruptcy, and providing the cash needed to auto parts suppliers and finance companies, the stimulus saved an estimated 1.5 million jobs according to a study by the Center for Automotive Research.

While Republicans like Santelli have derided the 2009 stimulus as a failure, the consensus among economists has been that it helped stave off deeper job losses and supported a modest recovery. Most independent economists from the CBO to Moody's. com to Macro Economic Advisors agree that the stimulus worked and likely should have been bigger. A study by Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics and an advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign, and Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman and advisor to President Clinton, estimates that the stimulus act had created about 2.7 million jobs.

So you see, if it weren’t for the Tea Party intransigents who simply can’t stand this president and have obstructed every jobs bill he has put forth, our economy would be in an even stronger place today. Job hiring is a function of demand for products and services. Putting people back to work and putting cash back into their pockets so that they can go out and spend is what drives economic growth and permanent job hires.

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