The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Stimulus Failed. It’s Time for a New Approach.


Jim Hoft updates the chart, comparing the Obama administration’s projections of unemployment with the stimulus and how the rate has actually progressed since then. We were supposed to be below 6 percent right now. We’re at 8.2 percent.

The issue is not whether or not the stimulus created jobs; it’s actually hard to spend $787 billion and not create jobs. The issue was whether the Obama administration actually understood the magnitude of the economic crisis hitting in late 2008 and early 2009 and whether the stimulus used the massive sum effectively. In other words, did we get $787 billion worth of economic growth out of it in exchange for taking on another $787 billion in debt?

Considering how politicians no longer use the word “stimulus,” and focus groups indicate voters react strongly negatively to claims that the stimulus worked, the the public’s verdict is clear.

The excuses from the Obama administration and its defenders will come fast and furious (no pun intended) in the coming days. But as I mentioned earlier this week, the argument is that the stimulus would have worked as advertised if not for “headwinds” means that its creators never prepared for such headwinds. And while the specific headwinds, or impediments to job growth, are hard to predict with precision, the continued existence of them isn’t. Natural disasters, political instability, currency instability, uneven growth around the globe… only a fool would assume they would cease from 2009 to 2012.

Pick your metaphor: the stimulus was a house of cards, a Faberge egg, a Rube Goldberg machine… the argument of the Obama camp is that it could have worked wonders if nothing had gone wrong. But that can be said of a lot of plans.

Since we find ourselves in a situation barely any better than before the stimulus, perhaps it is time to contemplate an alternate approach that cultivates the entrepreneurship of hundreds of thousands of American businesses, large and small, instead of relying on officials in Washington to make the right decision again and again. Larry Summers himself said that the federal government makes a lousy venture capitalist, and the philosophy of extending the taxpayers’ resources to a business like Solyndra is privatizing the gains (it’s not like they would trade us the patent for their products) and socializing the losses.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Stimulus


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