Is the New York Times auditioning to replace the White House blog as the main public organ of the administration?
Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again.
“The ‘stimulus’ has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results,” wrote Speaker John Boehner. “Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ ”
The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010.
And yet Republicans were successful in discrediting the very idea that federal spending can boost the economy and raise employment. They made the argument that the stimulus was a failure not just to ensure that Mr. Obama would get no credit for the recovery that did occur, but to justify their obstruction of all further attempts at stimulus.
So the American Jobs Act was killed, and so was the infrastructure bank and any number of other spending proposals that might have helped the country. The president’s plan to spend another $56 billion on job training, education and energy efficiency, to be unveiled in his budget next month, will almost certainly suffer a similar fate.
This may be the singular tragedy of the Obama administration. Five years later, it is clear to all fair-minded economists that the stimulus did work, and that it did enormous good for the economy and for tens of millions of people. But because it fell short of its goals, and was roundly ridiculed by Republicans and inadequately defended by Democrats, who should have trumpeted its success, the president’s stimulus plan is now widely considered a stumble.
I’m sure the Times considers a “fair minded economist” to be someone who agrees with them. Fortunately, many do not. In fact, the president’s former OMB director, Peter Orszag, scrapped the whole jobs “created or saved” lexicon because as liberal economist Lawrence Katz said, it was a “silly exercise.”
As for the rest, let’s just say there is a lot of room for disagreement about whether the stim bill staved off a depression or how much more the economy grew because of it. And, of course, the Times fails to finish its own sentence on jobs; that the White House promised the unemployment rate wouldn’t top 8% (it eventually hit 10.1%) and the fact that even if they’re right about 1.6 million jobs “created or saved,” more than 8 million lost their jobs in the recession.
As for keeping people out of poverty, is it just a coincidence that the Times failed to mention any year beyond 2010? Those 5.3 million who were “saved from poverty” then are almost certainly in poverty now, given that the poverty rate has increased 6.7 million since Obama took office.
So, was the stim bill a total failure? Of course not, as these Washington, D.C. dogs can attest:
Washington, D.C. is not only home to many of the nation’s wealthiest zip codes, but it also where you can find some of the plushest dog parks.
The capitol’s elite pooches can thank President Barack Obama’s stimulus package for their green AstroTurf parks.
The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform noted in a press release that the Capitol Hill Marion Park received a whopping $90,825 in stimulus funds. The mountains of taxpayer dollars made the doggy playground one of the “Best Places to Hang With Your Dog in the DC Area,” according to the local CBS news affiliate.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the five figures were spent on repainting the fence, repairing the sidewalk, and purchasing new benches and trash cans for the park.
The DuPont neighborhood S Street Dog Park was also a beneficiary of the Obama administration’s stimulus package. ATR explains that due to taxpayer funds, the park is now equipped with state-of-the-art AstroTurf and a new doggy water fountain.
These dog parks are located in so-called “Super Zips,” or communities where the average salary is $120,000 or higher. As reported by the Washington Post, Washington, D.C. has one-third of the nation’s “Super Zips.” It is likely that these dog parks are not being used by the low income individuals that Obama and Democrats have vowed to protect.
No doubt the stim bill saved a lot of dog walking and dog groomer jobs.