Federal Stimulus


Independent economic analysts–organizations unaffiliated with the White House or the national Democratic party–have put forward their conclusions on the federal stimulus bill.

It has worked, and will continue to work.

Just look at the outside evaluations of the stimulus. Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.

But those aren’t the sound bites you hear in the media, are they?

6 thoughts on “Federal Stimulus

  1. Michael B Sullivan

    $787 billion for 2.5 million jobs, “ultimate impact.”

    So $314,800 per job.

    2.5 million jobs changes the unemployment rate by about 0.85%.

    I’m not sure that that constitutes “success.”

  2. Michael, not to mention the bridges that were repaired, roads that were fixed, etc. It’s not just salaries; it’s materials, too.

    Not to mention, about 40% of the stimulus was tax cuts (it wouldn’t have gotten Republican votes otherwise) and tax cuts are very inefficient at creating jobs.

  3. Michael B Sullivan

    Okay, sure, but it seemed like you were gauging its success in terms of the jobs it created. I don’t see any metrics in terms of the numbers of bridges built. I just read the Ezra Klein link, and he doesn’t appear to have any metrics either.

    I’m not a Republican and I’m not interested in carrying water for them. I’m happy to give them lots of discredit as well. But if the stimulus “worked,” surely that means that we can see an observable effect that seems worth the money spent. I don’t think that 2.5 million jobs is an observable effect that’s worth the money spent.

    Maybe 2.5 million jobs plus whatever infrastructure was created plus whatever else all comes out to something that worked. But nobody seems to be able to quantify that. And isn’t the idea that 2.5 million jobs “ultimate effect” serving as a good proxy for all of that? I mean, the idea is that when the money doesn’t directly go to creating a job, but instead creates infrastructure or gives people more money in pocket, that in turn creates more jobs because the economy is healthier?

    Admittedly, I couldn’t find a detailed analysis from any of the big firms you listed in your first post, so maybe they lay out the case more exactly.

  4. I did find breakdowns of the spending in various news organizations, (like this one, but I’m not sure if those independent analysts have published their reports, or even if they plan to. Presumably, they earn their living by selling their work, not releasing it to the media for free.

    And I hear what you’re saying about “observable effect” and you have a great point. Things are bad right now. Getting better, but not much better. But I would suggest we’re seeing the observable effect right now. People forget that things were really bad in Sept and Oct ’08–the crash was huge, and we were really close to another Great Depression. Economists and Bush administration officials were horrified by what was going on, and they were right to be.

    The stimulus and the much-hated TARP funds helped avert disaster. I’m no fan of Bush, but that was one of his programs that I agreed with, and I’m glad Obama has continued it.

    If the stimulus had been bigger, as many on the left wanted it to be, things would be better right now than they are, but no matter. It’s too late to go back in time and the political realities of what could be done are set.

    The important thing now (well, one important thing) is not to let the media world sell themselves on “the stimulus failed” narratives. It didn’t. It just didn’t fix all the problems deregulation caused, and additional stimulus would be help take us further toward a healthy economy, if our craptastic Democratic majority can legislate it.

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