Eight. Hundred. Billion. Dollars.

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 20, 2009

That is very nearly the size of the Obama Administration stimulus package. The one that we were told we had to have lest the economy curls up in a fetal position.

The Administration got its package. Behold its effects:

It’s not surprising that the much-ballyhooed “economic stimulus” hasn’t done much stimulating. President Obama and his aides argue that it’s too early to expect startling results. They have a point. A $14 trillion economy won’t revive in a nanosecond. But the defects of the $787 billion package go deeper and won’t be cured by time. The program crafted by Obama and the Democratic Congress wasn’t engineered to maximize its economic impact. It was mostly a political exercise, designed to claim credit for any recovery, shower benefits on favored constituencies and signal support for fashionable causes.

As a result, much of the stimulus’s potential benefit has been squandered. Spending increases and tax cuts are sprinkled in too many places and, all too often, are too delayed to do much good now. Nor do they concentrate on reviving the economy’s most depressed sectors: state and local governments; the housing and auto industries. None of this means the stimulus won’t help or precludes a recovery, but the help will be weaker than necessary.

How much is hard to determine. By year-end 2010, the package will result in 2.5 million jobs, predicts Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com. But as Zandi notes, all estimates are crude. They involve comparing economic simulations with and without the provisions of the stimulus. The economic models must make assumptions about how fast consumers spend tax cuts, how quickly construction projects begin and much more.

Depending on the assumptions, the results vary. When the Congressional Budget Office made job estimates, it presented a range of 1.2 million to 3.6 million by year-end 2010. Whatever the actual figures, they won’t soon mean an increase in overall employment. They will merely limit job losses. Since late 2007, those have totaled 6.5 million, and there are probably more to come.

All of this makes the effort to cover up information understandable, doesn’t it? Oh, and a larger stimulus package in the future will do nothing, as the editorial points out.

We wasted nearly eight hundred billion dollars in a big, giant, rent-seeking exercise designed to aggrandize the power, and satisfy the agendas of Democratic interest groups. I would call for hearings on this issue, except that the Administration is not solely culpable for the disaster that is the stimulus package. Democrats in Congress who voted for the package–and the three Republicans in the Senate who joined them–are responsible for this debacle too.

Nearly. Eight. Hundred. Billion. Dollars got wasted on the watch of this Administration, and this Congress. That’s worth remembering in 2010, and 2012, since elections are supposed to have consequences.

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