A Stroll Down Memory Lane

With the federal deficit spiraling out of control, with unemployment approaching 10 percent, and with confidence in the Obama economic plan waning, it might be useful to go back and look at what team Obama promised if the porkulus passed:

SUMMERS: Some of the adjustments can take place almost immediately as people see more income in their paychecks, as state and local governments will get support so that they can prevent layoffs of teachers, policemen, other essential personnel. And there are a ton of shovel-ready projects that are out there that are being canceled right now that are not going to be canceled when this program passes. All told, there’s enough here that Christina Romer, the President’s chief economic advisor, has estimated that he’ll create between three and four million jobs…

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is this going to be enough or have we reached the limit or how far we can go on this? Will it have to be larger?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS: This is one phase of the President’s program. He’s also committed himself to substantial efforts with respect to housing, to prevent foreclosures, to a financial recovery program that will get the credit– get the credit flowing again. And he’s made it very clear that he is going to do what is necessary to get us out of this economic hole. This is the largest such program in the country’s history–three million, four million jobs. He’s going to make a very big difference…

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think we’ll see unemployment actually get to ten percent?

LAWRENCE SUMMERS: I don’t– I don’t– I don’t think so, Bob. I– I think that, well, we’re going to see substantial job losses.

Frankly, what’s important about the President’s program here is that it is going to contain what would otherwise be a– just a vicious cycle. People spend less therefore they earn le– therefore others earn less therefore they spend less. We’re going to stop that vicious cycle and we’re going to contain– we’re going to contain this problem. The President is going to do whatever it takes to achieve that objective…

To be sure, Obama did not promise a rose garden. He (through Summers) anticipated things would get worse before they got better. But Summers promised some instant relief. Instead, scarce few ‘stimulus’ dollars have been spent in support of infrastructure jobs. And the best the administration now can offer is a vague claim that the economy is not getting worse as quickly as it was before.

Barring a miracle, unemployment will soon surpass 10 percent. So either Summers and the Obama team had no clue how to ‘fix’ the economy, or had actually crafted a plan that would make it worse. The fact that unemployment is so clearly and dramatically at odds with Obama’s projection forces one conclusion or the other. Are they incompetent, or are they committing malpractice?

Further, Obama has clearly not delivered on Summers’ promise to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the economy moving again. Despite his inability to get the economy moving, he has stuck rigidly with one solution: bigger government and more spending. Didn’t he campaign as a thoughtful, incisive, consensus-builder? Where is that guy? All America has seen is a 1960s-style liberal who thinks more spending and more bureaucrats are the answer to everything.

If Obama was serious about restoring economic growth, he would acknowledge that what he has been doing is not working. He would invite some bright people – including those who disagree with him – to offer ideas about how to correct past mistakes. And while he’s at it, he might apologize for the debt he has saddled us with, while wasting nearly $1 trillion doing nothing to solve the problem.

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