Ed Driscoll

'Obama Really Might Have Made It Worse'

James Pethokoukis writes that “The Republican charge is a body shot aimed right at the belly of President Barack Obama’s re-election effort: He made it worse:”

The economy is growing (slowly) now and adding jobs (modestly) whereas neither was happening back in early 2009. Of course, economies in recession will eventually recover even without government action. So the question is whether Obamanomics helped, hurt or was inconsequential.The centerpiece of Obama’s plan to “push the car out of the ditch” was the trillion-dollar (including interest expense on the borrowed money) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A recent article in The Weekly Standard determined that it may have cost as much as $278,000 for each job created. But that’s generous. Respected Stanford economist John Taylor, perhaps the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, has analyzed the actual results of the ARRA. Not what the White House’s garbage-in, garbage-out models say happened, but what actually happened as gleaned from government statistics. Taylor, simply put, looked at whether consumers actually consumed and whether government actually spent in a way that produced real growth and jobs. His devastating conclusion:

Individuals and families largely saved the transfers and tax rebates. The federal government increased purchases, but by only an immaterial amount. State and local governments used the stimulus grants to reduce their net borrowing (largely by acquiring more financial assets) rather than to increase expenditures, and they shifted expenditures away from purchases toward transfers. Some argue that the economy would have been worse off without these stimulus packages, but the results do not support that view.

Indeed, the results are horrifying. The two-year-old recovery’s terrible tale of the tape: A 9.1 percent unemployment rate that’s probably closer to 16 percent counting the discouraged and underemployed, the worst income growth and weakest GDP growth of any upturn since World War II, a still-weakening housing market. Oh, and a trillion bucks down the tube. Oh, and two-and-a-half years … and counting … wasted during which time the skills of unemployed workers continue to erode and the careers of younger Americans suffer long-term income damage. Losing the future.

As Jim Geraghty adds, “By His Own Criteria, Obama Is Failing as President:”

President Obama, speaking at a DNC fundraiser in Philadelphia, Pa. last night:

Now, let me tell you why I thought it was so important to run — even though Michelle, she wasn’t so sure.  (Laughter.)  And why you guys got involved.  I just want everybody to remember.  We ran because we believed in an economy that didn’t just work for those at the top, but worked for everybody — where prosperity was shared, from the machinist on the line, to the manager on the floor, to the CEO in the boardroom.          We ran because we believed our success isn’t just determined by stock prices and corporate profits, but by whether ordinary folks can find a good job that pays for a middle-class life — where they can pay the mortgage, and take care of their kids, and send their kids to college, and save for retirement, and maybe have a little left over to go to a movie and go to dinner once in a while.  (Laughter and applause.)

Well then, Mr. President, by your own standards, your presidency is a failure of colossal proportions. He has moved us from what he labeled “an economy that just worked for those at the top” to an economy that doesn’t work well for anyone, and works worst for those on the lower rungs.

Read the whole thing.™