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"One hundred days ago, in the midst of the worst economic crisis in half a century, we passed the most sweeping economic recovery act in history. One hundred days later, we are already seeing results. In these last few months, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs." President Obama, May 27, 2009.
Nobody knows where President Obama came up with that 150,000 number for jobs allegedly "saved or created" by his stimulus package. It cannot be verified. We do, however, know the overall jobs situation. Since Obama signed his stimulus package in february, 1.6 million American jobs have been lost. Unemployment now stands at 9.4%, the highest in over a quarter century. Things have gotten so bad that pundits (and Obama) have taken to claiming the 345,000 jobs shed by the economy in May are actually a GOOD sign (we lost 539,000 in April). Our economic Titanic is still headed toward the iceberg, but at a reduced speed. Let's celebrate !
On monday, for the first time, the Obama administration admitted it's forecasts on the impact of the stimulus package were way off. From the Associated Press:
"At the time, our forecast seemed reasonable," said Vice President Joe Biden's top economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, explaining that the White House underestimated the scope of the recession. "Now, looking back, it was clearly too optimistic."
By this point, according to earlier White House economic models, the nation's unemployment rate should be on the decline. The forecasts White House advisers used to drum up support for the plan projected today's unemployment rate would be about 8 percent. Instead, it sits at 9.4 percent, the highest in more than 25 years.
But don't worry campers, Obama is large and in-charge. On monday, he also had this to say:
"We've done more than ever, faster than ever, more responsibly than ever, to get the gears of the economy moving again. I'm not satisfied. We've got more work to do."
There you go, folks ! Our Prez is not satisfied with only losing 1.6 million jobs. He thinks we can do EVEN BETTER. Talk about low expectations.
Obama also took a swipe at his critics who deny the "success" of the stimulus plan so far:
"Now, I know that there's some who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still don't believe in the necessity and promise of this recovery act."
Take that, critics ! You lousy critics are just ignoring all the evidence that the stimulus package is turning the economy around, like, um, well....the, uh....and the other (cough), you know, sorta stuff.....Oh, never mind. You know what he means. All that, ah, evidence, whatever it is.
Even though the stimulus package has been such a wild success so far, Obama is ramping it up by announcing the stimulus will create 600,000 more jobs over the summer. Yes, I remember those jobs from when I was a teenager. In fact, they were called "summer jobs" then too. They are also known as temp jobs.
Here's one of Obama's critics taking a swipe at our President:
"This is President Obama's economy, and his administration must provide results and specifics rather than vague descriptions of success that seem to change by the week. The administration looks dramatically out of touch as they highlight the creation of temporary summer employment in the face of job losses unseen in decades, record unemployment and massive deficits." - House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Ah ! That's why I love politics so much. Here's Cantor pushing a familiar refrain from Republicans these days, by saying "This is President Obama's economy." While technically true (Obama IS the President, after all), it is a transparent attempt by Republicans to push the former Republican administration out of memory. Obama didn't create the problems we face today. They didn't suddenly show up the day Obama took office. The problems were already here. As much as I disagree with Obama's stimulus plan and other policies myself, I don't blame him for the recession (except for his Senate votes). That would be S-T-U-P-I-D, as in C-A-N-T-O-R.
I've been trying to find out how much of the stimulus package has been spent so far, and I keep hearing different numbers. The AP article I linked to said $44 billion has been spent in the last four months. A White House report from the end of May said $112 billion has been spent, but critics and pundits jumped all over that number, calling it inaccurate . If anyone has the facts on this, please clue me in.
Most economists say the effects of Obama's stimulus package will not be felt until the end of this year or early next year. This is one reason I was against spending so much money on Obama's stimulus plan. Most economists predict the recession will end anyway during this same time period. Without Obama's $1 trillion stimulus ($787 billion + interest), the recession will end. With Obama's $1 trillion stimulus, the recession will end and we'll be another trillion bucks in the hole. That's WORSE over the longer term. Stimulus, by nature, is short term, but short term thinking (instant gratification) is what got us into this mess in the first place. Only responsible long term planning will get us out of it. The stimulus package just kicks the can down the road a bit, while making our long term position that much less tenable. In addition, all Obama's projected massive deficits (between $1.8 trillion and $500+ billion annually as far as the eye can see) are based upon pretty optimistic economic growth scenarios. In the first four months of his administration, Obama's team has already been overly optimistic, as I just showed with the unemployment figures. If Obama's economic growth figures also prove to be overly optimistic, all this current profligate spending will hurt us that much more. The deficits will be larger, we'll have to borrow even more money at higher interest rates, and the inflationary risks following the recession will be enormous. Big government's favorite economist, John Maynard Keynes, did say "in the long run, we are all dead," but that's no reason to play Russian Roulette. Obama is taking a huge risk.