What is Obamanomics

Obamanomics is a popular neologism used to describe the economic policies of the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as their impact.


Obamanomics entered popular usage as soon as President Barack Obama assumed office in 2008, and is used to describe all of the economic policies and proposals of the Obama Administration, as well as the economic philosophies President Obama represented.

Many of the policies enacted under the Obama Administration were focused on economic stimulation in response to the Great Recession of 2008, which coincided with the campaign and election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States. Users of the term frequently use it to foreground a key component of the Obama Administration’s economic philosophy that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes. Some, particularly detractors, refer to this policy as the redistribution of wealth.

More generally, Obamanomics refers to all of the economic measures enacted under the Obama Administration, including providing relief for homeowners at risk of foreclosure, unemployment benefit expansion, reductions in energy use, and certain increases in government spending. Although this term also frequently encompasses the economic impact of President Obama’s policies on health care reform, those policies are also identified by the separate moniker Obamacare.

The Origins of Obamanomics

A neologism, merging the president’s name with economics, Obamanomics is a portmanteau form which has been used to describe the economic policies of many past presidents. Some analysts suggest that the term emerged in the press and popular culture after 2008 due to President Obama’s focus on change during his presidential campaign, particularly regarding change in federal economic policy. As such, Obamanomics enjoyed popularity as a buzzword with a prevalence not seen since the term Reaganomics was popularized by the press in the early 1980s. In spite of similar ways the two terms crystallize the economic policies of their administrations, the two economic philosophies are in many ways diametrically opposed.

Obamanomics was popularized both by supporters as well as detractors of Obama Administration policy, and connotations of the term are often inflected by the political position of the speaker.

For instance, supporters of Obamanomics claimed that the dire financial situation of the U.S. economy that accompanied President Obama as he was elected to office in 2008, including a soaring fiscal deficit, the U.S. Housing Bubble, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and a growing need for health care reform, compelled strong measures to stabilize the economy.

Detractors of Obamanomics are often critical of the ways these economic policies increase government intervention in the economy, increase taxes on the wealthy, and increase taxes and insurance premiums on health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.