Michael Hiltzik, with another insipid column:
Once again: Yes, the stimulus worked.
Amazingly, there are still some holdouts in the political and economic community who insist that the Obama stimulus failed–that is, failed to arrest a steep fall in economic output and launch a period of growth in gross domestic product, jobs, stock market valuations, and other metrics that continues to this day.
This is not rocket science, folks. Stimulus money hurts the economy, because it diverts money from uses that benefit the consumer (as determined by market forces) towards uses that do not benefit the consumer (because they are misdirected by government intervention). There is no stimulus program that solely put idle people to work without diverting resources from where they would have most efficiently been used in a free market.
But don’t take my Austrian economics perspective at face value. Let’s look at what we were promised by the proponents of the stimulus. We were told that the stimulus would keep unemployment low, and that the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009. Here was the Obama projection:
Above: a chart from a report cited by Obama to say unemployment would stay under 8 percent with a giant stimulus
Nice dream. In reality, though, unemployment went past 10 percent, and has only recently dipped below 8 percent.
(I hate using the standard unemployment figures because they are meaningless and do not reflect people who go on disability or otherwise drop out of the workforce. But the promises were made in these terms.)
That’s not all. We were also told the jobs would be “shovel ready”; that the stimulus would lift “2 million Americans from poverty”; that the green economy would create millions of jobs; and so on. These promises have not materialized — not any of them.
The Paul Krugmans of the world say that the stimulus just needed to be bigger! If your policy fails, it’s always because you didn’t implement that policy hard enough.) And indeed, that is Hiltzik’s line . . . today:
As we enter year six of the stimulus era, with yet another disappointing reading on GDP, it’s important to keep all that in mind: The stimulus works, it should have been bigger, and the impulse to replace it with austerity measures has done nothing but hurt workers and businesses. Anyone who claims otherwise doesn’t know how to read an economic chart, or doesn’t want to.
Today, Hiltzik says the stimulus should have been bigger. That’s not the tune he was singing in 2009, when he was simply beside himself with glee over the (to him very pleasingly) ginormous size of the stimulus:
In its embrace of the principle of stimulus by deficit spending, the Obama administration is launching a program infinitely more ambitious than anything Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed as a peacetime initiative in his entire tenure in the White House.
The White House is taking to heart one of the most important lessons of the New Deal — that it wasn’t stimulative enough.
. . . .
To a greater extent than most people understand today, Roosevelt was constrained by the political and economic orthodoxy of his era. . . . .
In terms of the scale of the program, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats have demonstrated that, by contrast, they’re uneasy with timidity.
In 2009, Hiltzik was giving a standing O for the huge size of the stimulus. Now that it has failed to deliver on any of the alleged benefits we were supposed to see, all of a sudden it was now too small.
Hey Hiltzik, sorry they archive your old stuff, dude. Oh well. Sucks to be you.
Michael Hiltzik gets paid by the L.A. Times to make outrageously silly claims that leftist failures are actually giant successes. ObamaCare? A huge success! because it makes insurance available to more people through the magic of government subsidies! The web site’s failure? A huge success! because fewer people are using government subsidies, thus saving the taxpayer money! The blatant contradictions are papered over, in a fashion one might suppose is indicative of dishonesty — the sort of dishonesty practiced by, say, a guy who hacks into his co-workers’ emails, or who defends himself on enemies’ Web sites using poorly disguised sock puppets.
Hiltzik is not just dishonest, you see — he’s stupidly dishonest. It’s that much more amusing because he thinks he’s so smart.
Thanks, again, to Dana.