Obama’s WaPo essay extols Porkulus, offers zero solutions

posted at 10:00 am on July 12, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When a candidate offers platitudes on the stump and avoids specifics, most people consider it smart politics — keeping options open and offending few.  When a President continues to offer the same platitudes after more than five months in office and in the middle of a deepening economic crisis, it becomes clear that the Oval Office has nothing but platitudes to offer.  In practically a rerun of yesterday’s weekly radio address, Barack Obama wastes space in the Washington Post by offering a campaign speech and a cheerleader rally for a failed stimulus bill:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was not expected to restore the economy to full health on its own but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall. So far, it has done that. It was, from the start, a two-year program, and it will steadily save and create jobs as it ramps up over this summer and fall. We must let it work the way it’s supposed to, with the understanding that in any recession, unemployment tends to recover more slowly than other measures of economic activity.

I am confident that the United States of America will weather this economic storm. But once we clear away the wreckage, the real question is what we will build in its place. Even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, I have insisted that we must rebuild it better than before. For if we do not seize this moment to confront the weaknesses that have plagued our economy for decades, we will consign ourselves and our children to future crises, sluggish growth, or both.

There are some who say we must wait to meet our greatest challenges. They favor an incremental approach or believe that doing nothing is somehow an answer. But that is exactly the thinking that led us to this predicament. Ignoring big challenges and deferring tough decisions is what Washington has done for decades, and it’s exactly what I sought to change by running for president.

Now is the time to build a firmer, stronger foundation for growth that not only will withstand future economic storms but that helps us thrive and compete in a global economy. To build that foundation, we must lower the health-care costs that are driving us into debt, create the jobs of the future within our borders, give our workers the skills and training they need to compete for those jobs, and make the tough choices necessary to bring down our deficit in the long run.

First, let’s correct the record  — again — about the ARRA and its intent.  Obama and his economic council explicitly sold Porkulus as a means to prevent short-term escalation of unemployment, not long-term rises in joblessness.  Christine Romer’s analysis showed that unemployment would return on its own to somewhere between 5-6% in four years with or without the stimulus spending.  They wanted to “create or save” 4 million jobs by the end of 2010, but their chart showed clearly that the big impact would happen in 2009. The difference between the dark blue line and the light blue line promised that Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package would have an immediate impact on joblessness.

Unfortunately, as Geoff at Innocent Bystanders shows in his adaptation to Romer’s chart, Porkulus didn’t do anything to stabilize the economy or provide job growth:

Note too that Obama has quietly dropped the promise to “save or create at least 3 million jobs by the end of 2010,” as Romer’s support of Porkulus claimed.  Nowhere in this essay does Obama put a number on jobs.  Suddenly, Porkulus has stopped being a jobs project — the entire basis on which Obama pushed Congress to pass it — and has become instead a foundational, long-term rebuilding of the American economy. How exactly does Obama make that claim?  After all, the bill mostly funded a hodgepodge of supposedly “shovel-ready project” such as normal road construction, although much of that has gone into self-promotional road signs intended to show off Obama’s neat-o Recovery.gov logo and act as roadside campaign advertisements for his reelection — and at a hefty cost.

When given the opportunity to explain his new foundation for America’s economy, though, Obama falls back into campaign mode and says almost nothing beyond a couple of slogans.  He talks about revamping the health-care industry, which some would agree would be foundational, but never once mentions the word Medicare.  The biggest problem facing the American economy is the entitlement disasters of Medicare and Social Security, two problems that need much more attention from the government than private-sector health care, and Obama refuses to even mention either.

What other “foundational” changes does Obama offer in his op-ed column?  Reforming community colleges and leading the world in college degrees by 2020.  That’s it.  Literally.  Obama really puts himself out on a limb and takes this opportunity to reach a national audience by explaining that education is really, really good.  I suspect a statement about apple pie may yet be forthcoming.

Either Obama has no idea how to “rebuild” the American economy, or his ideas are so bad that he has to hide them in embarrassingly elementary platitudes.  I’m not sure which is worse.

Update: Keith Hennessey also responds:

This did not have to be a two-year program.  Congress could have front-loaded the stimulus had they instead given the cash directly to the American people, as they did on a bipartisan basis in early 2008.  We would have saved much of it, paying off our mortgages, student loans, and credit cards (which would not be a bad thing).  We would have spent the rest much more quickly than the federal and state government bureaucracies now stumbling through their usual corrupt, slow and inefficient processes.  Instead the President handed the money and program design over to a Congress of his own party, who saw it as a big honey pot rather than as an exercise in macroeconomic fiscal policy.  The President’s primary macroeconomic policy mistake was allowing Congress to pervert a rapid Keynesian stimulus into a slow-spending interest-based binge.

The President is correct that the stimulus will increase economic growth, mostly next year.  That is too late, and later than it could have been had they done it right.

Be sure to read it all.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

jana on July 12, 2009 at 11:46 AM

Lampooning him, ridiculing him, and shaming him are all important too in defeating him. We need to use every weapon. Keep up the good work.

JiangxiDad on July 12, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Limerick on July 12, 2009 at 11:43 AM

I think it works if you change .com to “dot” com. Then we can fix it back in our browser.

JiangxiDad on July 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM

He’s not exactly getting away with it. His poll numbers are sinking. He’s lost Republican voters and is in the process of losing independents. Crap-and-betrayed was pushed back til September due to a lack of support and Obamacare is on the rocks.

I disagree with this analysis. The Cap/Trade bill is being put off to give the populace time to forget about it. Then the Senate will quietly pass the bill in the dark of 3:30 AM sometime in September. That’s classic liberal tactics.

Ultimately 2010 and 2012 will be the barometers for whether or not he gets away with all of this. But right now, he’s paying a serious political price for his heavy spending and lack of success.

Doughboy on July 12, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Once again, I don’t see a ‘serious’ price being paid. His poll numbers are slipping, but only slightly, and the media is in full-bore circling the wagons mode. He’ll be protected. He won’t be impeached. 2010 doesn’t look any better than 2008. As long as the media is able to keep people’s eyes off the ball, namely Obama being responsible for the economic freefall, the sheeple will dutifully re-elect their masters again.

fossten on July 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM

California small business set for layoffs as state IOUs land in mailboxes.

That red pen is gonna be a busy fella…..

Limerick on July 12, 2009 at 11:43 AM

Also, just read somewhere that the IOU’s are being legally considered state munic. debt, preventing ordinary people from bartering/selling them to others. Only registered securities dealers can do it. Good and bad to that, as there can certainly be fraud, but another ex. of gov’t hand in everyone’s business.

JiangxiDad on July 12, 2009 at 11:52 AM

Now if only the MSM whores would accurately report on Ogabe’s stone-cold lies and obfuscations, the American public might have a better picture of exactly what is happening.

But no, they are lining up for a headpat from POS Ogabe like the good, little, trained sack-gobblers they are.

Bishop on July 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM

I wonder how many billions those signs cost us? Because so far that is the only evidence of the “stimulus” I have seen.

conservnut on July 12, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Mr. Obama is doing to America what the terrorists did to United Flight 93. He’s flying the plane, badly, and his thugs have barricaded themselves inside the cockpit.

jeff_from_mpls on July 12, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Just Brilliant!

Would make a great ad on youtube. Your EXACT text, spoken by Dick Cheney (1ST choice), or ace pilot, Sullenberger (2nd choice/or some air traffic controller type voiceover, and perhaps some “Apocalypse Now” type music in the background.

luvstotango on July 12, 2009 at 12:12 PM

P.S. Visuals of 9/11 on the screen, for the this ad.

luvstotango on July 12, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Herb on July 12, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Gifted, yes. It takes a special kind of arrogance to continuously talk about things that you have no personal experience or expertise in as if you were the brightest man/woman in the room. Also, along the lines of “all politics are local”, they are able to manipulate small crowds in a manner that is frightening (and they spend a lot of time doing that–hence all the recesses and stuff). So yes, they are “gifted”. . .

Smart–in a way, but it’s not the end-all of their existence. They know just enough to ask not-bad questions from off-script, although it’s doubtful they ever actually hear the answer. They digest talking points prepared by someone else and are able to argue them as if they were the author, which points to both smarts and a “gift”. But original thought and intellectual curiousity is sorely lacking–that’s why there’s normally only two “angles” on any issue within the beltway.

In other words, they are masters of self-importance who themselves can be easily manipulated by a cleverly-worded report, and they keep exactly one thing at the forefront in all they do: get me re-elected!

Afraid yet? Because you should be. We–America as a whole–have EXACTLY the government that we deserve: uninformed, lazy, and waiting for the next handout. Those of us who actually work to better ourselves are in the minority, getting less and less numerous every day.

johnny alpha on July 12, 2009 at 12:31 PM

I disagree with this analysis. The Cap/Trade bill is being put off to give the populace time to forget about it. Then the Senate will quietly pass the bill in the dark of 3:30 AM sometime in September. That’s classic liberal tactics.

Once again, I don’t see a ’serious’ price being paid. His poll numbers are slipping, but only slightly, and the media is in full-bore circling the wagons mode. He’ll be protected. He won’t be impeached. 2010 doesn’t look any better than 2008. As long as the media is able to keep people’s eyes off the ball, namely Obama being responsible for the economic freefall, the sheeple will dutifully re-elect their masters again.

fossten on July 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM

If the Senate wanted to pass crap-and-betrayed with as few people as possible knowing about it, the time to do that was a week ago when everyone was still obsessing over Michael Jackson. Also, it would be wiser to do it while Obama’s approval ratings are still in the 50′s.

Waiting til September means they need time to secure(i.e. buy) the necessary votes for it to pass. And I don’t see the climate(political, not environmental) improving between now and then. Unemployment will continue to go higher and Obama’s numbers will continue to drop.

As for the media circling the wagons, sure they’re not about to give up on their chosen one this early in his Presidency. Obama’s downfall would be theirs as well since they essentially elevated him to the Oval Office.

But to quote Obama himself, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Double-digit unemployment is something the media can’t spin no matter how hard they try. And higher taxes on people making less than 250 grand is something they won’t be able to downplay.

As for shifting the blame elsewhere, the “Bush did it” card is all but played out at this point. And with Al Franken now providing Obama with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, he can’t point his finger at the GOP for anything that comes out of Congress. It remains to be seen how much of a price he and the Dems will pay come next November, but unless the American people actually enjoy being out of work and having their homes foreclosed on, it’s hard to fathom them sending the same bunch back to DC.

Doughboy on July 12, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Would make a great ad on youtube. Your EXACT text, spoken by Dick Cheney (1ST choice), or ace pilot, Sullenberger (2nd choice/or some air traffic controller type voiceover, and perhaps some “Apocalypse Now” type music in the background.

luvstotango on July 12, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Thanks luvstotango, but I’m afraid if the GOP made an ad associating President Obama with 9-11, it would do us more harm than good. Over the top.

We need to take the high road. I was just letting my metaphors run wild, being a rather free-wheeling, flambouyant and histrionic fellow. Communication rhetoric is best handled by professionals, and I’m definitely not one.

jeff_from_mpls on July 12, 2009 at 1:24 PM

While I entirely agree that the Porkulus bill was sold to the public as an immediate jobs program, and therefore demonstrated to be false both, in terms of immediacy and jobs!

However Obama’s claim that it is “a foundational, long-term rebuilding of the American economy” is right on target!

As a carpenter by trade I can attest that to “rebuild” first requires demolition. The “foundation” in this instance is the constitution which has provided us the “rule of law” that is the necessary basis of a capitalist system. It is that system which it is his intent to demolish!

The “ground-work” for rebuilding is an eco-authoritarian, collectivist model that means to equalize our standard of living with those less fortunate. To bad that to make all equal requires the dragging down of some instead of allowing the rise of others.

As an example; If you have a race between Jesse Owens and Jackie Gleason, and wish to mandate an equal outcome, your means to accomplish this becomes obvious. It is beyond possibilty to enable Jackie to achieve the performance of Jesse. Therefore it follows that the only course open is to hamper the performance of Jesse.

Or in other words, “Cap and Trade”!

Archimedes on July 12, 2009 at 1:37 PM

The more Obama fails, the more the Obama administration and media will look to point blame on this and other things that happened when Bush was President.
They must turn the news into sensational, negative Bush/Cheney headlines so as to bury any “Obama failing in ( fill in the blank)” headlines.
Hence the new threat by the Attorney General to look into Cheney/CIA situations.

Democrats and Obama know they are both failing and failing bad. The 2010 and 2012 election plans will be based on the “If you think we are bad, it would be a whole lot worse if Republicans were in charge” campaign strategy.

albill on July 12, 2009 at 1:44 PM

I think there will be a positive outcome when The Obama is impeached or voted out of office. Political Correctness will no longer exist.

It was PC alone that got this fool elected. We were too afraid to criticize his policies, his background, his angry wife, his associations, his voting records; we were too afraid to insist that his academic records be produced and scrutinized, too afraid to stand up and state the facts and the truth…. all because this sissy fool is 1/2 black.

He’ll get about an inch away from destroying our Republic and the PC doctrine will vanish. And that’s a good thing.

Key West Reader on July 12, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Why,oh,why, does the Obama Justice Dept. want to bring up Bush’s “war crimes” every time his poll numbers start to drop? This is a very sick bunch of losers!!!!!!!!!!

mobydutch on July 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM

Communication rhetoric is best handled by professionals, and I’m definitely not one.

jeff_from_mpls on July 12, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Professionals like the Marketing Czar of the GOP?
We’re doomed!

luvstotango on July 12, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Nice job Ed. No matter how much Obama or his minions try to move the goalpost, they fail to realize that Obama can’t get the football airborne. If you can’t get the ball in the air there is no hope of ever splitting the uprights.

chief on July 12, 2009 at 4:19 PM

chief on July 12, 2009 at 4:19 PM

Nice analogy. The problem is that the “0″ is trying to play basketball on the football field and has no clue he’s in the wrong arena.

chemman on July 12, 2009 at 5:13 PM

It was PC alone that got this fool elected. We were too afraid to criticize his policies, his background, his angry wife, his associations, his voting records; we were too afraid to insist that his academic records be produced and scrutinized, too afraid to stand up and state the facts and the truth…. all because this sissy fool is 1/2 black.

I’m still scared–so I don’t criticize the POTUS’ black half, I just criticize his white half and thus I’m okay.

“I support the president, just not his policies.”
–Rush

ted c on July 12, 2009 at 9:03 PM

Why,oh,why, does the Obama Justice Dept. want to bring up Bush’s “war crimes” every time his poll numbers start to drop?

Because–everyone’s seen the puppy….and Michael Jackson is already dead.

ted c on July 12, 2009 at 9:04 PM

We’ve now given them 5 mos. Has Congress finished reading this bill yet… er, I mean, started??!?

ted c on July 12, 2009 at 9:13 PM

Meanwhile the largest public corruption trial in Dallas history is taking place. Name that party.

Limerick on July 12, 2009 at 10:39 AM

My guesses…
1. (Evil, racist, homophobic) Republicans
2. Libertarians
3. Greens

OK, I give up…who?

Red State State of Mind on July 12, 2009 at 9:49 PM

“… once we clear away the wreckage, the real question is what we will build in its place …”

Obama’s agenda is strangling capitalism and gradually bring the entire economy under central government control. He’s succeeding beyond expectations and people still don’t get it.

modifiedcontent on July 12, 2009 at 9:53 PM

I fail to see any positive cause and effect relationship between the ‘stimulus’ and reality. In fact, I don’t recall it (government interference) having worked before. So either they really believe this or one has to ask the question, what are they up to? What are they hoping for?

Maybe that the system will straighten itself out and they can take the credit and justify their rape of the American economy and the taxpayer and keep their pork without too many questions being asked.

But what they are doing is so contrary to a good business environment it will simply have to get worse.

Who wants to invest in this economy? Who wants to start or expand businesses? Who wants to hire more people? In short, who are willing to take risks especially knowing that whatever they may be able to earn is going to be taken away from them very soon?

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 12, 2009 at 10:16 PM

I hate the Stimulus, but at this point I’m thinking it may have saved us from an even worse fate: Stimulus, Health Care Reform AND Cap and Trade.

Folks get to see what the Dems do with a free reign to spend all the money they want, and it produced absolutely zero results. Polling seems to suggest that most Americans see it as a giant waste of money.

Maybe, as awful as the Stimulus was, it helped to prevent everything else that was coming at us. Maybe it was worth it then.

Yeah, I know. I’m a cup-half-full kind of guy.

12thMonkey on July 13, 2009 at 12:28 AM

Folks get to see what the Dems do with a free reign to spend all the money they want, and it produced absolutely zero results.

12thMonkey on July 13, 2009 at 12:28 AM

You forget about their priority which is to stay in power at any cost, expand government control and create a class of citizeans whom are dependants of the state. Other than that it has produced absolutely zero results.

Yeah, I’m a the cup is broken kind of guy

dmann on July 13, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Comment pages: 1 2