The Obama Presidency — By the Numbers

The Obama Presidency — By the Numbers

Eight statistics that will define the legacy of the 44th president of the United States

By Brendan Kirby, LifeZette.com

When President Obama leaves office on Friday, he and his supporters likely will want to focus on numbers like the sub-5 percent unemployment rate, 11.3 million net new jobs and roughly 20 million more Americans with health insurance.

But Obama’s allies almost certainly will want to bury another set of numbers, those that document stagnant incomes, anemic economic growth, and an increasing threat posed by terrorism.

Here is a look numbers that will define Obama’s presidency:

Commutations — 1,385
This is a rare area where both Obama and his critics highlight the eye-popping statistic. With the addition of 209 more shortened sentences on Tuesday, Obama has now commuted more prison terms than any other president in history.

In fact, Obama has granted more commutations than the previous 12 presidents combined, from Franklin Roosevelt through George W. Bush, according to the U.S. Pardon Office.

Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president, bragged about the number on the White House website. He argued the 1,385 commutations — along with an additional 212 pardons — show that “our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward.”

But William Otis, a former federal prosecutor who worked in both Bush administrations, said the disparity between Obama and his predecessors — both Republican and Democrat — demonstrates a radical departure from accepted use of one of the few presidential powers that is absolute.

“It’s a clemency binge. Does he really think he knows that much more about the supposed unfairness of the criminal justice system … than his [12] immediate predecessors?” he said. “In any other context, that would be considered extremism.”

Economic Growth — 1.5 Percent
The gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services, grew by an average of 1.5 percent from 2009 to 2015. In the first two quarters of 2016, growth nearly stalled at .8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, before posting a healthy 3.5 percent rate in the third quarter.

Even though the current recovery is one of the longest on record, growth never kicked into high gear. Obama’s best year was 2.6 percent last year. He will finish his presidency Friday as the first president since before World War II to never preside over a single year of growth exceeding 3 percent.

Economists say that is one of the reasons why wages have been stagnant. According to the Census Bureau, the household median income in 2015, $56,516, climbed above the inflation-adjusted figure in 2008 for the first time in Obama’s presidency. But it remained below the inflation-adjusted high of $57,909 in 1999.

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