Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Benchmarks for Obama's Presidential Success

"Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." - The Shawshank Redemption

Lower the National Debt
: There are many ways that Obama could accomplish this: Cutting back on "wasteful" spending, ending the war in Iraq, slashing entitlements, ending the war on drugs, whatever. This is a blanket category for simply lowering the national debt as a percentage of GDP. At the end of the third quarter of 2008 (October 1), the national debt was $10,024,724,896,000 (from here), while the GDP was $14,412,800,000,000 (from here), for a percentage of debt of 69.6%. Assuming that the debt of other countries has stayed constant since 2007, that would put us at the 18th highest level in the world (based on this). Here are some possible futures:

Debt as a percentage of GDP above 75% = F
Debt as a percentage of GDP less than 75% = D
Debt as a percentage of GDP less than 69.6% = C
Debt as a percentage of GDP less than 65% = B
Debt as a percentage of GDP less than 60% = A

Slash Per Capita Healthcare Spending so as to be Comparable to OECD Countries: This should be done while maintaining health outcomes as comparable to these countries. Here is the most recent data (taken from here, OECD countries defined here, explanations on data techniques here):

The US is currently the worst in the world at this category with comparable countries. The median on this list is currently $3187 per capita. In 2005 (the most recent statistics), our value was 200% of this median. If after Obama's presidency that number is,

250% or greater = F
220% or greater = D
180% or greater = C
150% or greater = B
Less than 150% = A

If there is an accompanying dramatic reduction or improvement in health outcomes, which I would not expect, then I will use my discretion to factor that in. I expect that the WHO will collect this data sometime near 2012.

If Obama's GPA is a 2.5 or above, I will consider him a "good" president, if he gets a 3.5 or above I will consider him a "great" president. This post was inspired by the inimitable Robin Hanson's proposal here. Check back in four years from today for the results.