538Refugees has been on break for a few weeks. As a teacher, I get summers off and I like to spend those weeks hiking and staying in shape. This year I finally finished hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I had about 450 miles left to complete the journey of 2,667 or so miles from Mexico to Canada that I started back in 2007. It was quite the adventure. I met lots of nice people and had some interesting experiences. Plus I get to spend some time inside my own headspace thinking of new ideas. It’s a good, healthy, karmic adventure that everyone ought to try.
Oddly, while out in the wilderness, I ran into something that had to do with politics. I crossed a new bridge over one of the tributaries to the Sandy River on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Next to the bridge was a sign indicating that the bridge had been built with funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Stimulus money. So now I personally have benefited from the stimulus act that many conservative critics rail against with claims that it was ineffective.
I’m not certain why conservatives continue to make false claims that government stimulus was ineffective when all evidence and most economists say that it likely kept us from sliding into a full blown depression. In fact, manny economists claim that it wasn’t nearly enough and should have gone further to jump start the economy. But the ‘job creators’ who demand tax cuts aren’t yet creating any new jobs so somebody has to get capital moving within the system. In that regard the stimulus has been successful.
But conservatives delight in any failure of this administration. Take Solyndra, for example. Solyndra was one of a couple of dozen renewable energy companies funded under the Bush administration. The company was apparently mismanaged and caught in the wrong place and time on the technology curve and consequently went bankrupt. The glee from conservative (read oil company backed Republicans) was audible across the nation. Was this a failure on the part of the Obama administration? Possibly, although I fail to see how the White House could micro-manage every company’s books. But conservatives would like for everyone to have the perception that this is an failure endemic of the Obama administration’s entire economic policy. Fortunately, no one is buying it yet.
Like most stimuli, the results of the ARRA won’t be readily apparent until there is some distance from its enaction. In fact, if the stimulus did work, we shouldn’t notice anything at all. The only way we could be sure that it wouldn’t work is to not enact it in the first place and then observe the resulting collapse of economies at which point we would say ‘the Obama administration should’ve enacted stop-gap measures such as a stimulus to prevent this from happening’.
President Obama’s jobs bill will likely produce some positive results as well if it can get through the House. At least the President has a jobs bill. It seems like Republicans not only have no solutions for the economy and unemployment but they seem pleasantly content to let the American people suffer until President Obama is no longer in charge. My guess is that even if they were in charge the Republicans would be presenting a similar jobs bill. Either that or invading some other country just to keep the defense contracts flowing. And, of course, handing the bill to the taxpayers to pay.
Personally, I prefer building things up at home as an economic solution rather than destroying other countries. But then I’m not a stockholder in a military defense company. Silly me.
Incidentally, the administration is keeping the dispensation of the ARRA completely transparent. If you want to know how the money is being spent visit: www.recovery.gov for a full breakdown. The stimulus performed in the manner in which it was designed. Now if only corporations would quit sitting on their cash reserves and start hiring people like they purport to be doing when they get tax breaks.
- Stimulus Tales (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Sachs on Stimulus (cafehayek.com)
- Stimulus redux – Romney’s ad against the jobs bill (politico.com)
- Solyndra a headache or scandal for Obama W.H.? (politico.com)
- Chris Hayes Explains Why Solyndra Bankruptcy Is Not A Scandal (mediaite.com)
- Early Stimulus Worries (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)