'Stimulus' claims vs. reality

'Stimulus' claims vs. reality

December 10th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Here is a bit of food for thought on the danger of accepting the rosy promises that politicians make when they propose big new spending programs.

In early 2009, shortly before his inauguration as president, Barack Obama used a radio address to urge Congress to pass a massive federal "stimulus."

"I asked my nominee for chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer, and the vice president-elect's chief economic adviser, Dr. Jared Bernstein, to conduct a rigorous analysis of this plan and come up with projections of how many jobs it will create -- and what kind of jobs they will be," Mr. Obama said during that address. "Today, I am releasing a report of their findings so that the American people can see exactly what this plan will mean for their families, their communities and our economy."

OK, so what "exactly" did Mr. Obama and his advisers think the stimulus -- whose price tag hit $862 billion -- would accomplish?

Well, they said the stimulus would hold unemployment below 8 percent, and that joblessness would steadily drop to less painful levels in coming months and years. By now -- December 2011 -- unemployment if the stimulus passed was supposed to have dropped to about 6 percent, according to the administration's projections.

Did it work out that way? Hardly.

Today's unemployment rate is 8.6 percent -- far higher than it was supposed to be by now if the stimulus passed. In fact, unemployment today is higher than the Obama administration predicted it would be even if the stimulus did not pass!

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. Joblessness has now been higher than 8 percent for 34 straight months -- a record not seen since World War II!

That raises an obvious question: If the first stimulus failed so miserably to do what the president said it would do, why should any consideration whatsoever be given to the idea of a second stimulus?