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Economic Progress

The Obama Administration

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Having inherited an economy careening toward a second Great Depression, the Administration acted aggressively to arrest the crisis, restart growth and job creation, rebuild our economy on a stronger long-term foundation, and expand opportunity for all Americans.

Stabilized an Economy in Crisis

The Obama Administration took steps to help the hardest-hit Americans. Without the Recovery Act’s boost to household incomes, the poverty rate would have risen an additional 1.7 percentage points — which translates into about 5.3 million additional people that would have slipped into poverty in 2010.

The Administration provided tax relief that gave the typical American family a tax cut of $3,600 over the first four years of the Administration — helping to restart job growth — and made important tax cuts permanent for working families and families with college students.

Additionally, the Administration increased benefits and expanded access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps lifting more than 500,000 households out of food insecurity.

President Obama meets with a roundtable of people with various skin tones.

President Barack Obama attends a breakout session, "Creating Jobs Through the Rebuilding of America's Infrastructure," during the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Dec. 3, 2009. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Saved the American Auto Industry

The Obama Administration required that Chrysler and General Motors (GM) adopt viable restructuring plans in exchange for temporary federal loan support, including building more fuel efficient cars.

On December 19, 2014, Treasury announced that it had exited the last Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) equity investment under the Auto Industry Financing Program. The auto industry has fully exited the temporary federal programs that supported them, repaying the American taxpayer every dollar and more of what the Obama Administration committed.

President Obama stands on a yellow truck speaking to ralliers.
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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at General Motors Auto Plant in Hamtramck, Mich., July 30, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Stabilized a Financial Sector in Crisis

The Treasury invested approximately $245 billion across five bank programs. Each of these programs was established to accomplish different goals as part of the overall effort to stabilize America’s banking system. Because of the aggressive response, the financial system stabilized and Treasury has recovered $275 billion, a nearly $30 billion positive return to the taxpayer. Additionally, the Administration launched programs to restart crucial lending markets for student and auto loans, other forms of consumer credit, housing, and small businesses.

“Now is the time to act boldly and wisely — to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”
- President Barack Obama, Address to Joint Session of Congress, February, 24, 2009

Invested in Education

The Obama Administration catalyzed significant state education reforms to adopt higher academic standards to prepare students for college and careers, which 49 states and the District of Columbia have done. Additionally, the Administration invested in great teachers and leaders, and turned around low-performing schools through $4 billion in Race to the Top competition. Following these reforms, the high school graduation rate reached its highest level ever recorded, dropout rates fell sharply for low-income and minority students, and since 2008, college enrollment for African-Americans and Hispanics has increased by more than one million students.

President Barack Obama, wearing a light blue button-up shirt and a blue tie with white specks, holds a black magnifying glass and looking toward a young girl with a light skin tone. There is a young boy sitting on the left hand side of President Barack Obama with a deep skin tone and a blue shirt with gray sleeves holds a blue and clear magnifying glass looking toward toys that are sitting on the table in front of them. There are other young individuals of a variety of skin tones blurred out in the photo.
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President Obama wearing a light blue button-up shirt, a dark blue tie, and black pants stands with his arms folded and laughs in a room with other individuals of a variety of skin tones. There is a wooden table with a laptop, cardboard, straws, and other craft materials on top. In the background are a white-board, books, and other posters on top of a blue and yellow wall in what appears to be a school classroom.
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President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14, 2013. (Photos courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

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President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visit a classroom at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, N.Y., Oct. 25, 2013. (Photos courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Helped Responsible Homeowners Stay in Their Homes

May 11, 2012

President Obama made it easier for responsible homeowners to stay in their homes — avoiding foreclosures that would have hurt them and the economy and helping underwater homeowners refinance. In all, more than 10 million mortgage modification and other forms of mortgage assistance were completed to help mitigate the foreclosure crisis.

President Obama sits at a kitchen table with a family with a light skin tone.

President Barack Obama meets the Weithman family: Joe, Rhonda, and their children, Rachel, 9, and Josh, 11, in their home in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 18, 2010. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Made the Tax System Fairer

January 2, 2013

The Obama Administration made permanent tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans as part of the bipartisan fiscal cliff agreement in January 2013, while allowing costly tax cuts to expire for those with the highest incomes — which will reduce deficits by more than $800 billion over the next ten years.

President Obama talks to a group of people with light skin tones in the oval office.

Dec. 28, 2012 "After returning early from his Christmas vacation, the President with the Vice President meets in the Oval Office with the leadership of Congress to discuss the fiscal cliff." (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Reformed Wall Street

The Obama Administration established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to hold financial institutions accountable and protect consumers from the types of abuses that preceded the crisis. Since its creation, this new independent watchdog has established safer national mortgage standards to better determine a borrower’s ability to repay over the long term, launched new transparency requirements that clearly spell out interest rates and payments, and subjected credit reporting agencies, debt collection agencies, and payday lenders to federal supervision for the first time.

The Administration also adopted the Volcker Rule to prohibit banks from risky proprietary trading and from sponsoring investment funds that are unrelated to core banking activities.

President Barack Obama looks at Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker
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President Barack Obama meets with heads of financial regulatory agencies
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President Barack Obama meets with Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chair Paul Volcker in the Oval Office, Jan. 21, 2010.

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President Barack Obama meets with heads of financial regulatory agencies in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to receive an update on implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, July 18, 2011.

(Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Fought for Fair Pay for All Genders

President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, empowering workers to recover wages lost to discrimination by extending the time period for parties to bring pay discrimination claims, and took other steps helping to shrink the gender pay gap by more than 10 percent.

Additionally, he signed an April 2014 Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees who choose to discuss their compensation, further strengthening equal pay laws.

President Barack Obama signs executive actions

President Barack Obama signs executive actions to strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women, at an event marking Equal Pay Day in the East Room of the White House, April 8, 2014. The President signs the Presidential Memorandum -- Advancing Pay Equality Through Compensation Data Collection, and an Executive Order regarding Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information. Lilly Ledbetter stands to the left of the signing table. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Helped Unemployed Americans Get Back to Work

The Obama Administration worked with over 300 businesses, including 80 from the Fortune 500, to adopt recruiting and hiring practices to expand pathways to jobs for Americans who have been unemployed for 6 months or longer, and released grants that have trained nearly 5,000 long-term unemployed people for jobs in the past two years.

As more jobs are created, it was critical that Americans with skills, experience, and a desire to work would have every opportunity to get back to work to maximize the full potential of our talent pool. That’s why the White House partnered with employers to ensure that the long-term unemployed would have a fair shot at the same opportunities as other job-seekers. From the time businesses responded to the President’s call to action in January 2014 through November 2016, the long term unemployment rate was cut in half, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the total drop in unemployment.

President Obama hugs a woman with a light skin tone surrounded by secret service and various workers.
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"We were visiting a steel plant in Youngstown, Ohio, and the President decided to greet workers during a shift change. This woman asked the President if she could hug him and he obliged." (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Launched a New Manufacturing Network

January 9, 2015

The Obama Administration launched Manufacturing USA, which invests in U.S. leadership in emerging manufacturing technologies critical to our future competitiveness. Each manufacturing hub is designed to build U.S. leadership and regional excellence in critical emerging manufacturing technologies by bridging the gap between early research and product development; bringing together companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions, and federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the United States; and serving as a ‘teaching factory’ for workers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs looking to develop new skills or prototype new products and processes.

President Barack Obama tours MAGNET

President Barack Obama tours MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network) at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, March 18, 2015. Tom Lix, the CEO and founder of Cleveland Whiskey gives an overview of the company during a workshop with employees Ethan Snyder, left, and Jim Waltz. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Helped Small Businesses Get Back on Track

President Obama used proceeds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to stabilize banks that lend to small businesses, and his Administration established two new small business credit programs—the State Small Business Credit Initiative and the Small Business Lending Fund.

Additionally, his Administration focused on strengthening small businesses by signing into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses, ranging from 100% expensing to the small business health tax credit, to the temporary tax exclusion of capital gains from key small business investments.

President Obama wearing a light blue button-up shirt sits on the left-hand side of a dark brown wooden table with five other individuals with light skin tones. There are two kids with light skin tones sitting at the table behind them. There is a wooden board wall with a large and small white board and a window.
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President Barack Obama has breakfast with small business owners at Rausch’s Cafe in Guttenberg, Iowa, during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest, Aug.16, 2011. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

Supported the FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision

President Obama supported the FCC’s “net neutrality” decision to adopt the strongest rules possible to ensure Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot become gatekeepers to the Internet’s content or create paid fast lanes for access to the best services.

Reduced Unemployment Among Veterans

In August 2011, President Obama called on Congress to enact tax credits that will help get veterans back to work. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a maximum credit of $5,600 per veteran, and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities with a maximum credit of $9,600 per veteran.

These tax credits were included in the American Jobs Act and were signed into law by President Obama on November 21, 2011.

President Barack Obama greets Ramone Davis

President Barack Obama greets Ramone Davis, a veteran who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and now works at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant where the President spoke in Wayne, Mich., Jan. 7, 2015. The President mentioned Ramone during his speech. (Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library)

President Obama, eyes squinted and large smile, looks at a child through a big black magnifying glass. They appear to be in a classroom with other children nearby.

Learn more about the Obama Administration

Browse the story of President Obama’s administration and the Obama family’s time in the White House.