The Big Question: Does the jobs bill push mean the stimulus failed?

Armstrong Williams, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

You can’t help but ask, does this Administration have what it takes to steward the economy? When President Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill in February, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner promised that it would keep the unemployment rate from going any higher than 8.5 percent. Since then, another 3.4 million jobs have been lost and the unemployment rate has risen to 10.2 percent-- Great Depression proportions.

So what is the Obama team saying now? More of the same, it seems, amid reports that the US House of Representatives may pass a second stimulus bill—which is being creatively labeled a “jobs initiative”—before the end of the year. With mind-numbing intransigence, the Democrats continue to insist that their stimulus spending is “saving jobs.”

First, the very fact that the Democrats are proposing a second stimulus bill is an implicit admission that the first stimulus package has failed to “save jobs.” Second, the very claim that the stimulus package is saving jobs is nonsensical. It is impossible to prove that a job has been “saved.” In order to even tote that claim, the Administration has tortured the existing data. As reported by a GAO audit released last week, the Administration’s reported job numbers are riddled by statistical errors and invalid reporting. For example, the GAO report found that jobs have been overstated or counted multiple times. Other media outlets have reported various statistical and reporting anomalies, including an estimated $6.4 billion in Recovery Act funds going to imaginary places, like the 26th District in Louisiana or the 12th in Virginia.

A second stimulus package…sorry…”jobs initiative”… is the Democrats’ attempt to give the appearance that their plan is working. They know that if the levee cracks before the 2010 midterms, they will be swept out of office, just like the1994 U.S. midterm elections. Calling a second stimulus package a “jobs initiative” doesn’t change the fact that the Administration’s response to the unemployment crisis has been an economic bust. It’s hard to see how more of the same will change that.

John Feehery, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Clearly, the stimulus has failed to do the one thing that it is most important to the political future of the vulnerable Democrats:  Create jobs.  It has failed because it was not designed to stimulate the job creators of the private sector, small business. It was designed to keep public sector employees employed. The so-called stimulus has stimulated an expansion of the public sector at the expense of the private sector. And it is unlikely that anything else the Democrats come up with will be much better because Democrats just don't get the private sector. They don't understand how it works or why it works. They would be better off to stop digging us into a deeper financial whole and focus of keeping the currency stable.


Michael J. Wilson, national director of Americans for Democratic Action said:

No – we need a jobs bill because the economic stimulus didn’t work enough.  Partisan wrangling and misplaced concerns about the deficit limited the effectiveness – but without the stimulus and its COBRA, food stamps, unemployment compensation, aid to states and local governments and infrastructure aid, the Great Recession would have been even worse.  The 17½% unemployment rate – not the 10.2% which leaves hundreds of thousands uncounted – is proof that the private sector can’t lift this economy alone, that consumers can’t lift this economy alone, that only the federal government has the muscle to lift this economy.  Congress and the Obama Administration must dig deep and invest in the nation in a substantive, direct and robust way.  If we don’t, the political ramifications will be nothing compared to the economic consequences of Great Recession doing a double dip – or worse.


Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) said:

There is general consensus that the stimulus is working. It stopped the inevitable crash of the U.S. economy and laid the groundwork for a strong recovery. No one thought the recovery would be fast or easy.  As a recent article in the New York Times pointed out, a variety of economists agree the stimulus is helping the economy -- which a year ago was in free fall -- grow and fewer jobs are being lost. The president and Congress understand that this is a very long process and the work will not be over as long as people need jobs. The Democratic Congress will continue its work with the administration to keep people employed and find additional ways to create jobs for the unemployed. It took us years to get into this financial predicament, and it will take years to get out of it.

Michelle D. Bernard, president and CEO of the Independent Women's Forum, said:  

The rush to put out a jobs bill is definitely evidence that the Administration recognizes that the stimulus failed to provide the promised “jump start” to the economy and to stimulate private sector job creation.  Worse, the error-filled reports about “jobs saved or created” has increased cynicism:  many Americans now believe that Washington is more interested in spinning than solving the problems that confront them.  

The new focus on jobs is also evidence that the Administration recognizes that the American people are frustrated that Congress and the White House seem not to recognize that the unemployment crisis is, in fact, a crisis.  The Administration and Congressional Leaders spend all of their time pushing a health care bill that fewer and fewer Americans support (just 38 percent of Americans support the health care bill according to the latest poll by Rasmussen) while millions of Americans are struggling to find work. The 10 percent unemployment rate understates the magnitude of the problem: More than one in six (17.5 percent) Americans are either unemployed, working part-time or fewer hours than they want to, or have given up seeking employment.   

After months of pushing an agenda of expanded government control of health care, a job-crushing cap-and-trade bill, and budget busting spending with little relation to encouraging private sector hiring, Congress knows that it needs to convince the public that they are capable of advancing policies that will encourage job creation.  Otherwise many Members of Congress are going to be joining the ranks of the unemployed after next November.

Michael J. Wilson, director of Americans for Democratic Action, said:

No – we need a jobs bill because the economic stimulus didn’t work enough.  Partisan wrangling and misplaced concerns about the deficit limited the effectiveness – but without the stimulus and its COBRA, food stamps, unemployment compensation, aid to states and local governments and infrastructure aid, the Great Recession would have been even worse.  The 17.5 percent unemployment rate – not the 10.2 percent which leaves hundreds of thousands uncounted – is proof that the private sector can’t lift this economy alone, that consumers can’t lift this economy alone, that only the federal government has the muscle to lift this economy.  Congress and the Obama Administration must dig deep and invest in the nation in a substantive, direct and robust way.  If we don’t, the political ramifications will be nothing compared to the economic consequences of Great Recession doing a double dip – or worse.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said:

Several months ago the President suggested that if the Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus, unemployment would not go above 8 percent and hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created.  But as we all know, by October the unemployment rate had climbed to 10.2 percent and hundreds of thousands of jobs had been destroyed.  Whether or not this latest rush to spend more money is an implicit admission that their previous effort was a failure, one would hope that they have learned that you don't grow the economy by growing the government and the deficit.

Rep. John Culberson (R-Tx.) said:

The stimulus bill has been a complete fiscal failure. Earlier this year President Obama and Speaker Pelosi promised that the trillion dollar bill would create jobs “immediately” and unemployment would not rise above 8 percent. Since that promise, unemployment has reached 10.2 percent - the highest level in 26 years and more than 2.8 million jobs have been lost. I believe it is time to let Americans keep more of what they earn and for the government to spend less. It is time to start trusting and empowering individual Americans instead of the federal government. By taking these steps, our economy will see the growth and prosperity that have defined America for generations.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kans.) said:

Yes. The Obama/Pelosi stimulus program has earned an “F” for job growth and an “A” for growing the size of the federal bureaucracy. Democrats fail to realize that economies have to grow from the ground up not the government down. We need more opportunity and less government.

The failure of the $787 billion spending plan is unfortunately just one in a series of proposals put forth by the Democrats to spend more money and control more decisions made by American families. Just look at what Speaker Pelosi has tried to do this year with a national energy tax and her plan to eliminate thousands of jobs through a nationalized healthcare system. And today The Hill has reported Democrats are proposing a new $150 billion stock tax that will further stifle investments and slow our economy.

In the end, these spending schemes leave us with more debt, higher taxes, fewer jobs and less personal freedom. We do not need another so-called stimulus plan that will simply spend more money.

As I have said repeatedly, we need to fight for true economic stimulus that will remove barriers to private-sector job creation, put spending decisions back into the hands of families and business owners, and lead us toward energy independence. Only when we allow the free-market to work will we see the true potential of the American economy.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

I had to laugh as I read The Hill’s account of the Democratic push – from the “Jobs Now Caucus,” no less – which wants the money left over from the “stimulus” to go to “jobs creation.” Wasn’t that the alleged purpose of the original stimulus, which totaled out at $838 billion? How quickly they forget!

An occasion for yet more mirth: “White House economists said in January that the jobless rate would peak at about 8 percent if the stimulus were to be enacted. Without the stimulus, the jobless rate would peak at about 9 percent, the White House economists said in the build-up to passing the measure.”

What planet are these people living on? As the White House blithers on about the “success” of the first boondoggle bill, everyone knows the real unemployment rate is closer to 17.5 percent – according to the government’s own figures, as CNBC reports. However, two sectors of the economy seem relatively immune from the devastation that followed the bursting of the Greenspan bubble: first, Wall Street, where massive infusions of freshly-printed dollars are raining down on the banks and the corporate elite, who will be getting big fat Christmas bonuses this year. And of course employment in the Washington, D.C. area is up because the ranks of government employees are swelling. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:

“College graduates are now looking toward government to start their careers, since there aren't a lot of other places to look. Unemployment for government employees is about half the rate of almost all private industry workers, and Washington, D.C., is a rare U.S. city that seems recession-proof.”

As the productive private sector sinks, the least productive sectors – empowered by their friends in Washington – rise in power, influence, and income. In the interest of truth in advertising, the “Jobs Now Caucus” needs to rename itself the “Jobs for My Cronies Now” caucus.

There is one and only one road to job creation: instead of trying to re-inflate the bubble by pumping billions into boondoggles, the massive mal-investment caused by prior government policies (and the Federal Reserve) needs to be eliminated. This means that no one is “too big to fail.” Once that is allowed to happen, the economy can begin to heal itself – as long as government regulators get out of the way and stay out of the way.

But of course that won’t happen: what will happen is the massive piling on of debt, the destruction of the dollar, the flight to gold – and the flight of capital away from US shores, as our productivity plummets and the national income shrinks. Which is why I had yet another chuckle as I read the following from The Hill’s reporting:

“An aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the $787 billion package did what it set out to do: stop the economic downturn from pulling the nation into another Great Depression. ‘Once we averted a depression, the Recovery Act started creating and saving jobs, and a jobs bill will build on that to get Americans back to work,’ said Katie Grant, a Hoyer spokeswoman.”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, Katie: the idea that we have “averted” disaster may be a bit premature, and, this holiday season, more than a bit insensitive to the suffering of millions of Americans, who face unemployment, foreclosure on their homes, and some pretty Great Depression-like hardship. The sort of hardship that is, of course, light years away from the world Katie and her Washington friends are living in.