- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Talk about overstating a weak case. President Obama has asserted incessantly that “virtually all” or “all” economists agree that the $862 billion in government stimulus spending was necessary to fix the sputtering economy and that the largesse has spurred a recovery. Hold your horses, Mr. President. If the views of experts in the “dismal science” really matter, a new poll of economists should give pause to White House propagandists.

Conducted between March 25 and April 10 by the National Association for Business Economics, the survey of the nation’s business economists found that a whopping 73 percent “reported the fiscal stimulus enacted in February 2009 has had no impact on employment to date.” Similarly, the newly enacted, if misleadingly titled, “jobs bill” was viewed as ineffectual, too, with 68 percent of economists saying they thought there was no impact.

Overall, economists consider the economy to be starting to improve but say the improvement has nothing to do with the stimulus. Rather, any upturn is simply part of a normal rebound. Most economists forecast that the economy finally will grow this year. Of those economists surveyed, 70 percent said they think the economy will expand by at least 2 percent this year, but only 24 percent said they think the economy will grow by at least 3 percent.

This projected uptick would constitute a very low number for a recovery, especially following such a severe recession. After the Jimmy Carter recession ended in 1982, growth was much faster. In 1983, after accounting for inflation, gross domestic product grew by 4.5 percent. In 1984, it grew by 7.2 percent.

M. Cary Leahey, senior managing director with Decision Economics, explained the stimulus problem. “With transitional moves in government spending [from the stimulus], there will be dislocations in the economy that will lead to higher unemployment,” he told The Washington Times. Likewise, Paul Evans, editor of the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking and an economics professor at Ohio State University, told us, “Most likely the economic recovery would have been more rapid at this point without” the stimulus package.

Government cannot create new spending out of thin air. Every penny spent by bureaucrats comes out of the hides of American taxpayers. Rather than bringing about a recovery, government profligacy destroys wealth by plowing a fortune into public pork projects that are much less efficient than activities in the private sector, where money would contribute to legitimate growth were it left there. Despite the stimulus, the unemployment rate soared past 10 percent, which is well above what the president promised.

The U.S. economy is still barely limping along. With more than 70 percent of economists saying the stimulus didn’t help unemployment, it’s time for Mr. Obama to stop spinning the canard that “all economists agree” with his big-government economic strategy.

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