David Firestone wrote in the Sunday Editorials of the New York Times an engaging article about how the universally-canned stimulus package was actually a success. He cites “The New New Deal,” Michael Grunwald’s new book which vindicates the most heinous example of Government over-reach in efforts to recast President Obama not as the lightweight scrapper from Chicago who won the hearts of America but the 21st century’s Franklin Roosevelt. And if it’s in a book it has to be true (look out for pigs trying to walk on two feet).
The article is well written, pointed, and an enjoyable read, like most fiction. Unfortunately, this fictionalized version of the Stimulus package is the new rallying cry for the Left. Why? Well, they think they might need to sell it to us just one more time.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did a lot of things. Firestone (truly the name of a worthy adversary) claims it saved or created 2.5 million jobs. And whichever economist on Team Obama thought up that brilliant phrase got a promotion and a yacht. Think about that: saved or created. How can that ever be quantified, what is the threshold? I put out the trash this morning, that saved one sanitation worker’s job. I bought a cup of coffee (or five) and saved two baristas’ jobs. And they saved a coffee bean farmer’s job by buying those coffee beans, so I get credit for that one, too. On Spotify, I listened to Cat Power and bought some stuff on Amazon. I’m a god-damned humanitarian. You know what else we call saving or creating jobs? Engaging in a complex economy. I’m going to go on the record, right now, and state I’ve saved 2,500,001 jobs in my lifetime and announce my candidacy for 2012.
Same deal when he says the Stimulus saved America from 12% unemployment. Firestone seems to think that because you can’t disprove a negative, it is fair game. But why not go big? I say, the ARRA kept us from 100% unemployment, and my sunny disposition kept it from raining today.
I don’t know if we could have ever hit 12% unemployment. The measurement is skewed in such a way, reflecting only people actually actively looking for a job, so as that pool grows with displaced workers, and the search gets all the more competitive, people with less desirable skills generally drift away from the workforce. I’m not one of those underemployment nuts (who cites a number around 17% just for headlines), but there is a reason why unemployment generally stays between 6-10%. Jay Leno made the joke that Obama, happy to hear that unemployment dropped, encouraged more people to give up searching for jobs. And of course Obama didn’t really do that, his economic policies handled that just fine.
A large chunk of money was reinvested into our infrastructure, which President Barack “You didn’t build that” Obama credits for creating jobs. So we created all the right condition for the recovery, we just never really did the recovery part. The roads look good though.
Firestone points to the $1.5 billion directed at subsidizing rent and mortgage control, as well as increases to food stamps, Medicaid, etc. While these are important to help struggling families weather the fiscal storm, that is not stimulus. That is stoploss. That is artificially creating a floor for the poorest of Americans waiting for things to get better. Except thing have not gotten better, economic conditions are still abysmal, and we bought time that resulted in nothing. Conditions have just been inflated by constant federal money pumping through the economy, but lipstick on a pig does not make a lady (trust me, I’m from Indiana, I’ve seen it tried).
The problem isn’t that the Stimulus failed miserably. The problem is that is was a dazzling big number with a suspicious number of lumps going back towards large Obama campaign supporters, between big labor and most notably energy company Solyndra, whose biggest investor George Kaiser coincidentally donated $33,600 to Obama ’08.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it when journalists rehash old numbers and hope to get new results (call it super math) and have to write an article to convince others (Hey, remember the Great Recession? Us neither, wasn’t it grand?). But I’m going to make one of my famous Grosser predicitions: When you are an old man or lady, long after I’ve gunned down due to a international cheese incident, historians are going to look back and teach your grandkids (in future school) that the ARRA saved America, that it really was the New New Deal. This is going to be a constant historical clashing point between ideologies, and Stimulus supporters will constantly find new numbers to say the same hopelessly silly mantra: Isn’t it wonderful how Government can fix everything?
History used to be written by the winners, now it is written by the children of privilege who, going to Harvard, didn’t have to actually live through it. And when you try tell your grandkids what it was really like, they won’t believe you, like you never believed your grandparents, and you’ll finally understand the word irony.
Brian is just angry that the Federal Government turned down his “Self-sustaining Coffee Farm in the Kitchen”. Make him happier by sending some traffic his way.