Published October 17, 2011
WASHINGTON -- President Obama hit his 1,000-day mark Monday, and with new data showing hikes in poverty, foreclosures, joblessness and debt, the president has a little over a year to convince Americans that he is turning the country in the right direction.
According to data from the Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office, the United States has added more than $4 trillion in public debt since Obama took office, and the federal government has spent $6.6 million a minute during that time.
But the economy is still behind the eight ball: the jobless rate averaged 9.4 percent between Jan. 20, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2011, and nearly 3 million more Americans are in poverty compared with when Obama took office.
The president's accomplishments over the last 1,000 days have been historic -- he oversaw the operations that killed public enemy No. 1, Usama bin Laden, and American terrorist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Obama and a Democratic Congress also pushed through a landmark health care overhaul -- one that's been under assault since the day it was signed into law, and the president pushed for the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, the legislation that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military.
But it's the sum total of his economic record that promises to be the prime target for the eventual Republican nominee -- and arguably Obama’s biggest hurdle as he seeks four more years.
"He's got about 300 days to convince the American people that he deserves another term," said Andy Card, former White House chief of staff for President George W. Bush. "By his own standard, he said if he didn't have these things accomplished in three years, he wasn't going to get re-elected."
"It's going to be a competitive election, no doubt," said Simon Rosenberg, director of the New Democrat Network, who argued that the president inherited a "very tough situation" and despite the stats, has made things better.
"The economy is better today than it was at the beginning of his presidency when we were losing 700,000 jobs a month," Rosenberg said.
Data compiled from OMB, CBO, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Treasury Department show how difficult it may be to convince Americans that the president is equipped to right the economic ship.
As of Oct. 17, here is a snapshot of what's different, compared with Jan. 20, 2009:
-- The U.S. debt increased by an average of $4.2 billion per day. The total rise in that time breaks down to more than $13,000 in additional debt for every single American.
-- The government has spent more than $9.6 trillion, about 60 percent more than what Washington took in.
-- The country racked up as much debt in the last 1,000 days as it did in the first 79,135 days. (That's from 1776 to 1993.)
-- In the last 1,000 days, America spent $1.2 trillion in interest on the debt. By itself, that would represent the world's 15th largest economy.
-- On the economic front, 2.22 million jobs have been lost.
-- More than 2.4 million homes were repossessed for failure to pay mortgages.
-- The unemployed are staying out of work longer -- on average about 40.5 weeks, more than double the typical bout of joblessness in January 2009.
-- The jobless rate has been at or above 9 percent for 840 of the last 1,000 days.
-- Thirty-seven states have higher unemployment rates.
-- Washington has spent almost $380 billion on federal unemployment benefits.
-- Since January 2009, 7,076 new final regulatory rules were issued.
-- About 12 million more Americans are on food stamps.
-- Gas prices are up by more than 80 percent. The price-per-gallon has exceeded $3 every day in 2011.
With the struggling economy as a backdrop, Obama's approval rating has dropped nearly 30 percentage points since his inauguration.
The numbers could help explain why the president is pushing so hard for a comprehensive jobs package, which he's pitching as a game-changer for the economy.
The Senate held up his latest $447 billion jobs bill just last week, and Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh said the president can reasonably blame a stonewalling Congress for blocking measures he has tried to pass.
The president has notched a series of high-profile accomplishments in his nearly three years, whether viewed popularly or not on the domestic front. They include the 2009 stimulus bill, the health care overhaul, the financial institutions overhaul and the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal.
Arguably his biggest achievements came on the counterterror front, with the successful takedown of bin Laden, followed by the assassination of al-Awlaki in Yemen.
"He's done a pretty good job of getting Usama bin Laden and getting some of the leading terrorists and worked hard to protect America," Card said. "But in terms of the economy and what's happening domestically in the United States, terrible, terrible grade."
Rosenberg said Obama can be credited with making a big dent in the terror networks, as well as improving education and health care.
Marsh agreed, saying, "he gets credit for stopping the economy from becoming even worse than it already was." However, she added, Obama "should have started on the jobs effort three years ago."
Though foreign policy will likely not be a focal point of the race, Marsh said the president can point to successes to show that when unencumbered by Congress, he was able to get things done.
But Dana Loesch, St. Louis Tea Party co-founder and talk radio host, said Obama's "lucky" breaks as president are "nothing that can sustain a campaign."
"Jobs is his biggest hurdle," she said. "And unless he does something magical in the next year or so ... I don't see him reelected."