Policy: Economy

Examiner Editorial: Five years later, Obama's stimulus remains an extravagant dud

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Opinion,Editorial,Barack Obama,Jobs,ARRA,Economy,Poverty,Unemployment,Washington Examiner,Magazine

It may be difficult for some to recall, but President Obama repeatedly promised the American people in 2009 that his $787 billion economic stimulus program would create millions of new jobs and shrink the unemployment rate as it jolted the economy into sustained growth. He also promised it would spark a “green revolution” in energy, put a million zero-emission electric vehicles on the country's roads, and lift two million people out of poverty. Joining Obama in making those promises were then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the dynamic Democratic duo who, let it not be forgotten, actually stitched together the Obama stimulus program behind closed doors.

It’s now five years later and Obama’s chief economic advisory council is still peddling snake oil about the stimulus program, this time in a commemorative report: “The recovery act had at most a minimal impact on the long-run debt — and the additional growth it produced likely further reduced or eliminated its cost." In other words, the council would have the country believe that the $787 billion program actually cost little or nothing. If they're serious, members of the council must also believe in unicorns.

Take the president’s claim that his stimulus program would save or create 3.5 million new jobs and thereby keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent and headed downward. It would do so chiefly by taking advantage of the pent-up demand for infrastructure construction, which would generate droves of “shovel-ready jobs.” Not long after the stimulus program was approved, the unemployment rate zoomed past 8 percent to 10 percent, peaking at 10.1 percent late in 2009 and remaining thereabouts for three years. It didn’t take quite that long, however, for Obama to concede in 2011 that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”

Or take that green energy revolution that was also going to create millions of new jobs and inspire Americans to buy at least a million zero-emission EVs. The spending was massive, but the results were dismal, so much so that by October 2011, the Wall Street Journal commented that “the green jobs subsidy story gets more embarrassing by the day. Three years ago, President Obama promised that by the end of the decade America would have five million green jobs, but so far some $90 billion in government spending has delivered very few.”

As for those EVs that were supposed to be whirring merrily along led by the Chevrolet Volt, dealers moved a mere 918 of them in January 2014. Consumers simply don't want Obama's EVs, even though he spent billions of their tax dollars to encourage sales.

Finally, there’s Obama’s promise that his stimulus program would lift two million people out of poverty. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 50 million Americans are now officially classified as in poverty. That’s up from the 43.6 million who were in poverty in Obama’s first year in office, for an increase of nearly seven million. Obama’s advisors will have better luck selling those unicorns.

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