The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), better known as the stimulus package or Porkulus, was supposed to be Barack Obama’s signature economic program. Launched in the first weeks of his presidency, Obama declined to work with Republicans (or order Nancy Pelosi to do so) and wound up getting it approved with just three Republican votes in the House and Senate combined. The $787 billion project was supposed to provide a “jolt” to the economy and keep unemployment from going above 8%.
Small wonder that a majority of Americans think it hasn’t worked:
Six months after President Obama launched a $787 billion plan to right the nation’s economy, a majority of Americans think the avalanche of new federal aid has cost too much and done too little to end the recession.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found 57% of adults say the stimulus package is having no impact on the economy or making it worse. Even more —60% — doubt that the stimulus plan will help the economy in the years ahead, and only 18% say it has done anything to help improve their personal situation.
The poll’s skepticism is underscored by the methodology:
The poll Aug. 6-9 of 1,010 adults has a margin of error of +/–4% for the full sample. In a question asked of a subsample, 51% of Americans say the government should have spent less on the stimulus; 31% say the amount was “about right.” Also, almost half in the full sample say they are “very worried” that stimulus money is being wasted.
Gallup sampled adults instead of registered or likely voters. That usually produces results more favorable to Democrats and liberal policies. If a Gallup poll that samples results in the general adult population finds this much skepticism about Porkulus, the level of skepticism among likely voters — the best predictive sample for future elections — will be much higher.
As USA Today notes, this will be a big problem for Obama in the health-care debate. Voters trusted him on the stimulus, and now almost a trillion dollars have been committed with no appreciable impact on economic growth. Now Obama wants a trillion dollars to make the health-care system more efficient. Had the stimulus worked, or had Obama not made those promises to get the $787 billion from Congress, he might have found it easier to push ObamaCare through Congress.
Instead, Obama bet his fiscal credibility on Porkulus, and he lost it.