The Orange County Register has published another one of its narrow-minded looks at the effect of the 2009 stimulus on its fifth anniversary. They write:
Five years ago this week, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The $787 billion economic stimulus package – which actually ended up costing the taxpayers $840 billion – was supposed to grow the U.S. economy, while creating millions of jobs.
Republicans strenuously objected to the Obama stimulus. It “sets up near-perfect conditions for waste, fraud and abuse,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, warned at the time.
Meanwhile, 200 conservative and libertarian economists, including several Nobel laureates, signed their names to a full-page newspaper advertisement declaring, “We the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is the way to improve economic performance.”
President Obama attributed GOP opposition to his stimulus package to partisan politics. He dismissed the conservative and libertarian economists as purveyors of “false theories of the past.”
Five years later, the record shows that stimulus spending was rife with waste, fraud and abuse, as Sen. Murkowski and her fellow Republicans warned in 2009. And, as the conservative and libertarian economists foresaw, the Obama stimulus did not yield the promised improvements in the nation’s economic performance. Read the complete OC Register editorial here (There’s no pay-wall on this one.)
But their bias against anything done by the government to enhance the economic recovery, particularly by a democratic president and congress,is easily refuted by from George Zornick of the Washington Post:
Republican animus toward the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, popularly known as the stimulus, hasn’t decreased over time. Today marks five years since President Obama signed the legislation into law, and Republicans from Marco Rubio to John Cornyn are using the anniversary to bash not only the bill but also the very idea of government spending.
It’s important to knock down these conservative claims about the stimulus, which haven’t gotten any more factually accurate over time. And it’s not just a matter of correcting the historical record — people shouldn’t be made to be afraid of proactive government intervention, which the economy undoubtedly needs more of.
Gross domestic product and total payroll employment were at historic lows when the stimulus passed, and private-sector layoffs were peaking. All three of these very important indicators began to turn around almost exactly the moment the stimulus passed. (The Center for American Progress has some great charts here.)
The Congressional Budget Office concluded that the GDP in the fourth quarter of 2009 was as much as 3.8 percent higher than it would have been without the stimulus.
At the end of 2010, there were approximately 2.5 million more jobs in the country that wouldn’t have existed without the stimulus, according to Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com.
The bill kept nearly 6 million people out of poverty in 2009, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Most of the spending measures in the stimulus bill have expired, but the point is that it did what it was supposed to do. For Republicans to simply say “the economy is still bad, so the stimulus was a failure” is a cheap misdirection.
The other main argument against the bill has been that it puts the country too deeply in debt. But critics are wrong again. The stimulus act only exacerbated the long-term budget problem to a very small degree — it added just 3 percent to the budget shortfall through 2050, according to CBPP.
Read George Zornick’s complete commentary here.
The blowhards at the Register seem to never want to recognize anything good done by government.