Report: Obama Has Spent 3.6% of Presidency on Economy

A new report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute (GAI) finds that President Barack Obama has spent 3.6% of his total work time throughout his presidency in economic meetings of any kind.

The study, titled “Presidential Calendar: A Time-Based Analysis,” based its findings on the official White House calendar, Politico’s comprehensive presidential calendar, and media reports through March 31, 2013. The study defined the president’s work week as a six-day, 10-hour-a-day time period.

“You should know that keeping the economy growing and making sure jobs are available is the first thing I think about when I wake up every morning,” Obama said in 2011 to an audience of UPS workers. “It's the last thing I think about when I go to bed each night."

The GAI report, however, reveals Obama’s hours spent on the economy have fallen significantly since entering office. In 2009, Obama spent 187.2 hours in economic meetings; in 2010, 127.8 hours; in 2011, 73 hours; in 2012, 80.4 hours.

In total, the report says Obama has spent 474.4 hours (or 47.4 10-hour workdays) in economic meetings or briefings of any kind throughout his presidency.

To be sure, any president’s economic work includes private conversations and discussions not necessarily captured on the official White House presidential calendar. But the study granted wide parameters to include any meeting that might remotely deal with economic matters. For example, calendar entries like “Obama meets with Cabinet secretaries” and “Obama has lunch with four CEOs” counted as economic meetings. If the White House calendar did not include the time a meeting ended, a generous two hours were given.

GAI’s latest study is in alignment with findings from its presidential calendar analysis last July, which found Obama spending scant time on the economy. Prior results found that Obama spent an average of just 138 minutes a week in economic meetings of any kind.

“There will be some who will be encouraged by the numbers and some who will wish the president spent more time in economic meetings,” said GAI President Peter Schweizer. “We just tabulate the numbers and let others decide how to interpret them.”


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