Speaker Ryan: Obama doesn't deserve credit for economy

Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanTrump, Clinton intelligence briefings likely to start next week Clinton maps out first 100 days Why a bill about catfish will show whether Ryan's serious about regulatory reform MORE (R-Wis.) launched a broad critique of President Obama’s economic record hours before the president delivers his final State of the Union address.

Speaking before reporters Tuesday, Ryan argued that while the president might tout the falling unemployment rate and growing economy under his watch, he shouldn’t take a victory lap. The Speaker said Obama’s policies are actually holding the economy back.

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“Wages are stagnant … 46 million people are still living in poverty today, among the highest poverty rates in a generation,” said Ryan. “These are not the signs of a recovery, these are not the signs of a strong economy. These are signs of a weak economy.”

Instead of crediting Obama for any of the economic gains that have occurred in the last seven years, Ryan argued that the Federal Reserve's policies pushed the recovery. He added that the central bank’s controversial efforts to drive down borrowing costs may have driven growth, but the benefits failed to spread to everyone.

“I think the Federal Reserve has done more,” he said. “What’s happening is people at the high end are doing pretty darn well because of loose money from the Fed. And all these regulations, all this uncertainty, all these taxes are giving us weak economic growth.”

Obama will appear before Congress Tuesday evening to deliver his final State of the Union. After taking office in the middle of a financial crisis and recession, the president will likely want to recount the economic comeback that happened since then.

Ryan’s jab at the Fed also comes at a critical juncture in Congress. The Senate is poised to vote on legislation Tuesday to subject the Fed to a full outside review of its operations, including monetary policy decisions. The Fed is intensely opposed to such legislation, arguing it would open its economic steering to political pressure.

But similar bills have passed the House with bipartisan votes, and if Republicans are able to convince a handful of Democrats to back the bill, it could end up heading to Obama’s desk.