President Obama's overall grade: C+

Robert Reich

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Kai Ryssdal: Next Wednesday is going to be a big day for the Obama administration. There won't be anything formal to mark the occasion, probably. But the honeymoon is officially going to be over. Commentator Robert Reich offers this early report card on the president's first hundred days.


ROBERT REICH: As a university professor I'm accustomed to giving grades. So here's how I'd grade Obamanomics so far: The 10-year budget gets an A. It's an extraordinary vision of what America can and should become, including universal health insurance and environmental protections against climate change.

And the budget takes a little bit more from the rich and gives a little bit more back to the poor and lower middle class, which seems appropriate given that the income gap is wider than it's been since the 1920s. I'd give the budget an A-plus except for its far-too-rosy economic projections.

The stimulus package gets a B. Good as far as it goes but doesn't go nearly far enough -- $787 billion over two years sounds like a lot of stimulus. But the economy is operating at about a trillion-and-a-half dollars below its capacity this year alone.

And considering that the states are cutting services and increasing taxes to the tune of $350 billion over this year and next, the stimulus is way too small.

The last grade is for the bank bailouts. I give them an F. I'm a big fan of this administration, but I've got to be honest. The bailouts are failing. So far American taxpayers have shoveled out almost $600 billion. Yet the banks are lending less money than they did five months ago. Their toxic assets and nonperforming loans are growing, bank executives are still taking home princely sums, and the banks are still cooking their books. And now the Treasury is talking about converting taxpayer dollars into bank equity, which exposes taxpayers to even greater losses.

So that's the report card. An A on the budget, B on the stimulus, and F on the bailout. On the whole, that gives Obamanomics a C plus. Not bad given the magnitude of the problems he inherited. But by the same token, not nearly good enough.

Ryssdal:Robert Reich gives out other grades while he's teaching public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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