The Obama stimulus package failed
. This failure proves that Democratic (or "socialist") job-creation programs do not work. Everyone knows this.
And everyone is wrong.
"job creation program"? Was there some modern-day equivalent to the TVA or the WPA or Hoover Dam or the transcontinental railroad that I missed?
Here's how the $819 billion stimulus package was spent (click to enlarge):
The largest chunk of the pie went to tax cuts (including the controversial $100 billion tax credit). If the stimulus package failed, then one can reasonably argue that tax cuts failed.
Of course, you will never hear Republicans -- or Democrats -- saying those words. Even Paul Krugman won't say 'em. Only a heretic hungry for the stake would point out the obvious: Tax cuts created no jobs and deepened the red ink.
The rest of the stim package mostly went to keeping things as close as possible to the status quo ante, in the hope that most of us could slog through the recession without actually moving into our cars or starving in the alley. So the package gave some aid to the states, which had to make drastic cutbacks anyways, due to the loss of state tax revenue. Another slice of the pie went to unemployment benefits. Some money -- hardly enough -- went to local schools. Not many people would argue that we are spending too much on education. Similarly, the increase in Pell grant aid helped keep young adults in college and off the crowded job market -- even though the increase did not keep up with tuition.
In short, the stim package was mostly about tax cuts and a few temporary working-class dole programs. Taken individually, all or most of those programs had popular support. (That's why you don't often hear the Republicans talk specifics.)
Nothing (well, almost nothing) in this package was intended to create actual jobs
. We saw no transcontinental mag-lev train system. No "green energy" update of the TVA.
Keynes once said that, in a stuck economy, the government might as well pay half the unemployed to bury soda pop bottles and half the unemployed to dig them up again. A job is a job. Millions of new jobs will get money flowing again, as paychecks are translated into booze and clothing and iPads and so forth. Once things are back to normal, we can deep-six the soda pop bottle project. That's the basic idea behind a stimulus -- a real
You can't say "the stimulus failed" because there was no attempt to stimulate anything. There was no attempt to create jobs.
So why do so many people have the wrong idea?
We have seen a triumph of propaganda over lived experience
. Last year,
24% of Americans thought President Obama had raised taxes for most Americans and 53% believed taxes had been kept the same. The numbers, which were drawn from a CBS/New York Times poll conducted February 5-10, were even worse among Tea Party supporters -- 44% thought taxes had been increased and 46% thought taxes were the same. In reality, Obama cut taxes for 95% of working families.
What bothers me is not that people won't give Obama credit. Screw him. What bugs me is that the public does not understand that Obama tried the Republican solution and it failed
The misperception may run deeper still. I believe that when Mr. and Ms. Average deride the failure of the "stimulus" package, they are really talking about TARP -- the bailout of the Wall Street bankers. In other words, there are a lot of idiots out there who don't know that TARP and the pseudo-stim are two separate things.
They also don't know, or have forgotten, that TARP was passed under Bush, and that Republicans
(most of 'em) supported TARP legislation. So did most Dems, including Obama. They were all piss-yer-pants scared by the apocalyptic talk of Total Financial Destruction. That talk came from the Wall Streeters, from the Bush administration, from the FOX Newsers and CNN and all the other teevee talking heads, and from the fed. The only senators who opposed the bill were mavericks in both parties, ten Dems and 15 Republicans. The Dems were guys like Feinstein and Tester and Sanders -- folks from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party," the place I call home.
Most of all, the public has forgotten that we got all of that scare talk, which made the ghastly TARP program seem "necessary," only because our Establishment let finance capitalism go unregulated. This decision allowed crooks to take over the system, just as your town would be overrun by crime if all the cops pulled out. Because nationalization is considered heresy, and because Wall Street funds our Congress, the big bankers were considered sacrosanct. They got bailouts when they should have received jail time.
In short: The "stimulus" was no stimulus. It was not
TARP. Deregulation and capitalist criminality caused the crisis which still bedevils us.
That's the way it really happened.
But that's not the way you'll hear it on teevee, on most well-traveled internet sites, and in your local coffee shop. The propagandists have been extra-clever this season. If they wanted to, they could convince our gullible and ill-educated public that the Apollo moon landing predated the Civil War.
You might say that this post is an extension of the previous one. The future belongs to those who control the past.