Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) slammed President Obama's promise that the stimulus package would deliver lower unemployment rates as "the stupidest thing that basically any administration probably ever said" in an interview Wednesday with WFPL News.
“I think if you asked them now they will say that was the stupidest thing that basically any administration probably ever said because that’s not something they can necessarily control,” Yarmuth said.
“It didn’t fail, it actually did what it was supposed to do," Yarmuth said. "Without it there’d be, most economists agree, about 3 percentage points more in unemployment rate, but he needs to believe in his plan and he needs to get out and sell it forcefully. [...] He needs to contrast it with the proposals that are coming from the other side politically — basically cut taxes and get out of the way — and that hasn’t worked.”
Yarmuth joins a chorus of Democratic lawmakers who have been highly critical of Obama's messaging on unemployment and the stimulus package.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called the president's assurances "dumb" and complained last August that Democrats and Obama had been saddled with a "false prediction."
"President Obama, whom I greatly admire ... when the economic recovery bill — we're supposed to call it the 'recovery bill,' not the 'stimulus' bill; that's what the focus groups tell us — he predicted or his aides predicted at the time that if it passed, unemployment would get under 8 percent," Frank said. "That was a dumb thing to do."
That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in Janurary, when he said the president "should not have said that unemployment would peak at 8 percent."
"The president's mistake, and it was a mistake, was to underestimate how bad the situation was we inherited under [former President George W.] Bush because he should not have said that unemployment would peak at 8 percent when Mark Zandi, [Sen. John] McCain's [R-Ariz.] adviser, was saying it would be going to go to 12 percent without the stimulus and 10 percent with the stimulus," Nadler said.
The promises of economic turnaround have dogged the White House and congressional Democrats as the unemployment rate has flatlined around 9.2 percent of the workforce. The president is expected to announce a new jobs program after the Labor Day holiday.