Jun 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Obama: Biden is "finishing the job" of my admin, Trump benefited from my economic policies

President Barack Obama speaks during a rally for then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at Northwestern High School on October 31, 2020 in Flint, Michigan.

Former President Obama speaks during a 2020 Biden campaign rally in Flint, Michigan. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Barack Obama said in an interview with the New York Times published Tuesday that Joe Biden is "finishing the job" his administration started and Donald Trump "benefited from the economic stability we initiated."

What he's saying: The former president told NYT podcast "The Ezra Klein Show" that it's "hard to just underscore how much the bank bailouts just angered everyone, including me," following the 2008 financial crisis, which he noted stimulated a "long, slow recovery."

  • "Although the economy recovers technically quickly, it's another five years before we're really back to people feeling like, ‘OK, the economy is moving and working for me," Obama told host Ezra Klein.
  • "Let's say a Democrat, a Joe Biden, or Hillary Clinton had immediately succeeded me, and the economy suddenly has 3% unemployment, I think we would have consolidated the sense that, ‘Oh, actually these policies that Obama put in place worked.'
"The fact that Trump interrupts essentially the continuation of our policies, but still benefits from the economic stability and growth that we had initiated, means people aren't sure. Well, gosh, unemployment’s 3.5% under Donald Trump."

On President Biden, Obama said that "what we’re seeing now, is Joe and the administration are essentially finishing the job," adding that the actions his administration is taking will be an interesting test.

  • "Ninety percent of the folks who were there in my administration, they are continuing and building on the policies we talked about, whether it's the Affordable Care Act, or our climate change agenda, and the Paris [Climate Agreement], and figuring out how do we improve the ladders to mobility through things like community colleges."

What to watch: Obama believes Biden "will have an impact" in cutting through the current politically polarized climate that's seen Senate Republicans block a bipartisan commission to investigate January's Capitol riot and GOP-led states push for restrictive voting laws as Democrats and rights groups push back.

  • "Does it override that sort of identity politics that has come to dominate Twitter, and the media, and that has seeped into how people think about politics? Probably not completely," Obama said.
  • "But at the margins, if you're changing 5 percent of the electorate, that makes a difference."
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