Samuelson: Obama Has Squandered Stimulus Plan

Monday, 20 Jul 2009 01:37 PM

By Gene J. Koprowski

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The much-hyped "economic stimulus" hasn't stimulated spending, and President Obama has "squandered" his political capital on the ill-conceived project, according to syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson.

"The program crafted by Obama and the Democratic Congress wasn't engineered to maximize its economic impact," writes Samuelson.

"It was mostly a political exercise, designed to claim credit for any recovery, shower benefits on favored constituencies and signal support for fashionable causes."

According to Samuelson, spending increases and tax cuts are "sprinkled in too many places" and, in general, are too delayed to do much good now.

"Nor do they concentrate on reviving the economy's most depressed sectors: state and local governments; the housing and auto industries. None of this means the stimulus won't help or precludes a recovery, but the help will be weaker than necessary," writes Samuelson. "How much is hard to determine."

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) made jobless estimates in a range of 1.2 million to 3.6 million by year-end 2010.

"Whatever the actual figures, they won't soon mean an increase in overall employment. They will merely limit job losses. Since late 2007, those have totaled 6.5 million, and there are probably more to come," writes Samuelson.

There's a gap between Obama's high-minded rhetoric and his actual performance. Obama denounced politics as usual in constructing the stimulus.

But that's what we got, and "Obama likes the result," writes Samuelson. "Interviewed recently by ABC's Jake Tapper, he was asked whether he would change anything. Obama seemed to invoke a doctrine of presidential infallibility. 'There's nothing that we would have done differently."

Others agree that not much has come from the stimulus except hype.

According to a report by Steven Pearlstein in The Guardian, the progressive U.K. daily, "the mid-term outlook is nowhere near as rosy as suggested by the consensus forecasts from Washington."

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