That's real economic activity.
And it's saved us from a second Depression.
Yes, the recovery has been painfully slow. But for pain and slowness, you can't beat the idea of government contracting and stepping aside at a time of economic crisis.
From Scott, to Eric:
There's been nothing more stomach-churning in recent years than seeing our hard-earned tax dollars used to bail out Wall Street firms that invested poorly or to corporations, like General Motors, that consistently made mind-numbingly stupid decisions.
Folks on the left call it "corporate welfare." Folks on the right call it "crony capitalism."
I call it wrong.
Public policy forged in the middle of a panic rarely reaps beneficial results.
If you combine the money Bush and Obama poured into bailouts and attempts at stimulus you come to more than $2 trillion.
Those dollars didn't just come out of the ether.
They came from hard-working men and women who pay their taxes, educate their children, meet their mortgage payments and save for their retirements.
When government takes their money, it takes it from those who will create a real economic recovery.
Remember, all wealth ultimately comes from the private sector.
When the government sucks money from the private economy and churns it through inefficient bureaucracies before handing some of it back, that's not economic activity.
Why take money from individuals and employers who have made wise economic decisions and give it to those who made poor ones?
These misguided interventions put more faith in the "wisdom" of government than that of the individual.
From Eric, to Scott:
Why should government deliberately have gone deeper in debt when the economy was on the verge of shutting down? It's a common-sense question.
The answer: Because the alternative — letting banks and major industries go bust, slashing spending and letting the market mete out its harsh discipline on the hapless and often blameless victims of a downturn — would have been catastrophic.
Because many people and businesses devastated by the Great Recession were not guilty of having made poor decisions. They deserved a helping hand, not a wagging finger.
And because, in retrospect, it worked.
To argue otherwise, Republicans have repeatedly cited Obama's "promise," actually a pre-inauguration projection by two of his economic advisers, that the Recovery Act would keep unemployment below 8 percent and bring it down to 7 percent by 2010.
Yes, that forecast was overly optimistic. Unemployment has been more than 8 percent ever since. It was based on premature data and too much wishful thinking. But the vast majority of recent, independent studies have concluded that Recovery Act spending significantly boosted the GDP and employment.
It paid for needed infrastructure improvements, invested necessarily (though not always successfully) in clean energy, strengthened the social safety net and otherwise spent in ways that individuals do not.
"The New New Deal," a recent book about the 2009 stimulus by Time magazine's Michael Grunwald quotes Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics and a Democrat who advised Republican John McCain's 2008 GOP presidential campaign:
"If you study the data and look at the timeline," Zandi said, "there's no question the Recovery Act saved us from something much, much worse."
Obama might not say it Wednesday night but I will: The "failed stimulus" was a success.
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