If government spending were the key to having a robust economy, this one would be booming as never before.
No amalgam of big spenders in Washington has ever spent more than the ones who’ve held sway since 2009. George W. Bush’s spending held the previous record, but the current crop of Einsteins has given us a $1 trillion-plus deficit this year alone, and similar red ink for as far as the eye can see.
The Obama administration’s signature economic strategy, the $862 billion “stimulus” act, was supposed to create a “summer of recovery” in 2010 and keep unemployment at 8 percent. Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers predicted unemployment without the stimulus would rise to between 8 and 9 percent; but with the stimulus, it has hovered near 10 percent.
It only put us deeper in debt.
And look at where we are now: unemployment at historical highs – even with interest rates at historical lows – and an economy that some believe is sliding into another recession.
Yet unbelievably, the president’s upcoming and much-ballyhooed jobs plan is expected to include more of the same deficit spending from the geniuses that brought you the 2009 failure.
The plan also reportedly will feature the government – again – trying to keep people in houses that they can’t afford. How’s that working out?
We’ll tell you: The first mortgage bailout was supposed to help 4 to 5 million homeowners; it helped about 16 percent of that – while helping set off a rebellion among taxpayers who paid for bailing out many irresponsible homebuyers along with the down-on-their-luck ones.
That rebellion – which began with Bush’s bailout of Wall Street – came to be known as the Tea Party.
So we’ve been down this pockmarked road before.
Nor does direct government spending to artificially “create” supply and demand in the economy work. Recent government “green” jobs efforts in Boston, Seattle and elsewhere have met with abject failure: In Seattle, a $20 million weatherization program retrofitted just three homes and employed 14 people.
The entire foundation of this president’s economic policy is cemented in the oft-disproved belief that a central government makes better spending decisions than individuals and the private sector. And it ignores the somewhat elementary reality that whatever money a government spends must first be taken from someone else. In other words, it’s the belief that taking money from one American and giving it to another provides some sort of “stimulus.”
There are certain functions of government that can help an ailing economy some, but under very limited circumstances – such as building or repairing public infrastructure. Beyond that, the government largely suffocates economic vitality the more it attempts to do. It neither creates wealth nor the jobs that make it possible.
Mr. Obama has set the scene for his same-old, same-old jobs program by first unveiling a “jabs” program – trying to fool the public into thinking that “gridlock” in Washington is always someone else’s fault. There’s plenty of blame to go around, particularly falling on a president who cannot change his failed approaches. That this president is shackled to an ideology that will not work is evidenced by his choice for the new head of his Council of Economic Advisers: yet another academic, big-government, labor economist from Princeton, Alan Krueger, who was instrumental in the dubious “Cash for Clunkers” program. That program cost taxpayers a whopping $24,000 per vehicle, according to Edmunds.com, which concluded that the vast majority of the program’s 690,000 sales would have happened even without the government program.
How many more government clunkers can we afford?