- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Obama officials claim government “stimulus” spending and trillions in deficits saved America from higher unemployment and a depression. Their numbers have been spun too much and don’t add up.

From January 2009 when Barack Obama became president until August of this year, unemployment increased by a full 2 percentage points. Last month, it rose slightly again. Last year, Democrats warned the unemployment rate would reach 9 percent if Congress didn’t pass the $814 billion stimulus package. Democrats now profess unemployment would have topped 11 percent without it.

The liberal dogma is that no matter how horrible the economy is, it would have been much worse without the federal spending spree. Our friends across the pond expose that falsity. “We consider that in Europe we have already invested a lot for the recovery, and that the problem is not about spending more,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in March 2009. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood at his side, nodding in agreement. France and Germany both resisted White House pressure to try to spend their way out of a recession Obama-style.

Comparative unemployment trends suggest which policy works better. From January 2009 to July of this year (the last month German numbers are available), Germany’s unemployment fell by 0.3 percentage points. France’s rate from January 2009 to June of this year (the last month available) rose by 1.3 percentage points, which is lower than U.S. numbers. These countries aren’t isolated examples. According to the Trading Economics website, which collected unemployment data for 31 countries from January 2009 to June 2009, America’s unemployment spike was worse than 26 of the other nations studied. Eight saw unemployment go down. On average, unemployment increased by 0.8 percent, less than half of the U.S. rise.

It takes some serious political gymnastics to avoid the conclusion that Mr. Obama’s stimulus made unemployment worse and will continue to do so. While unemployment rates in much of the rest of the world are falling, American joblessness continues upward. New government spending and more regulations will only dig a deeper hole.

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