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Obama: We Restored ‘Trillions of Dollars of Wealth’

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama has a new line he’s been trotting out as he talks to Democratic party donors — a claim that “trillions of dollars of wealth” have been restored on his watch.  

Turns out, the line is true.  

Household wealth has soared by trillions since Obama’s inauguration. And it’s now at an all-time high.  

In 2008 alone, the total net worth of households and nonprofit organizations plummeted by more than $10 trillion to $57.2 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. Since then wealth has soared more than $23 trillion to $80.7 trillion at the end of 2013. (See page 108, Line 42 ).  

That’s $13 trillion above the pre-Obama yearly all-time high of $67.7 trillion at the end of 2007. Net worth now amounts to about $250,000 per U.S. resident.  

Nearly $10 trillion of that improvement in net worth came just in 2013.  

What Obama doesn’t mention is that federal debt has also soared since he took office. The national debt is now close to $17.5 trillion — up nearly $7 trillion — or $22,000 per U.S. resident — since he took office.  

Instead, he notes the deficit has dropped, and seems miffed the decline hasn’t gotten more attention.  

“The deficit — you wouldn’t know it always from reading the newspapers — has been cut by more than half,” Obama said last week at a fundraiser in Chicago.  

The CBO projects a deficit of $492 billion for fiscal year 2014, which ends Sept. 30. That’s down from $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009. But the CBO projects that the deficit will start rising again in a couple of years as health care costs continue to rise, the Baby Boom generation continues to retire and interest rates go back up.  

The picture of national wealth also isn’t quite so simple as the total numbers. Median wealth — the wealth of someone at the 50th percentile, hasn’t kept up.  

Credit Suisse last year estimated median wealth of a U.S. adult at just $45,000 (See page 46 .), versus a $301,000 average net worth per adult.  

Three years earlier, median U.S. wealth was higher — closer to $48,000 per adult — per Credit Suisse. The average net worth per adult in their 2010 report was $236,000. (See page 28 .)  

The bottom line from those figures? The rich are getting much richer under Obama. And the middle keeps getting squeezed.  

Obama tells a similar story to his donors about the anxieties of the middle class even as he touts soaring wealth.

“We’ve got trends that have continued over the course of decades in which those of us, frankly, in this room continue to do better and better,” he said in Chicago. “Folks at the top have seen their incomes and their wealth soar. And ordinary Americans have seen their wages and incomes flat-line at the same time as the costs of everything has gone up. And so they’re less confident that not only they will be able to retire with some dignity and maintain their standard of living; more importantly, they’re concerned that their kids are not going to be able to match their standard of living and the upward trajectory of their lives — the idea that if you work hard, if you take responsibility in this country, you can get ahead.”

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