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Did Obama's Policies Help, Or Hinder, The Economy?

•, by Jim Zarroli

The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.

"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."

Romney's charge — that Obama inherited the recession, and then made it worse — angers many of the president's supporters.

Princeton University economist Alan Blinder, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve under President Clinton, says Romney's charge is "rank nonsense, and he should be embarrassed to say it."

The economy was in free fall when the president took office, Blinder says, and by almost any measure — from gross domestic product and industrial production to corporate earnings — it is doing much better now.

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