Jake Tapper interviewed Vice President Joe Biden and challenged him on the administration’s new Recovery Summer public-relations sloganeering, with economic indicators retreating and consumer confidence falling. Biden implicitly acknowledged the failure of the Porkulus bill, but had a ready villain to blame — the dastardly Republicans who wouldn’t let the administration spend as much as they wanted:
“There’s a lot of people at the time argued it was too small,” he said. “A lot of people in our administration…even some Republican economists and some Nobel laureates like Paul Krugman, who continues to argue it was too small.”
“But, you know,” Biden told Tapper, “there was a reality. In order to get what we got passed, we had to find Republican votes. And we found three. And we finally got it passed,” Biden said.
But if it wasn’t for the legislative reality, Biden explained, “I think it would have been bigger. I think it would have been bigger. In fact, what we offered was slightly bigger than that. But the truth of the matter is that the recovery package, everybody’s talking about it [like] it’s over. The truth is now, we’re spending more now this summer than we — I’m calling this…the summer of recovery,” the Vice President said.
Really? The Obama administration wanted to spend more than $862 billion, and it was the GOP that forced them into a supposed Pic-n-Save Porkulus instead? That is an easy allegation to fact-check. All we need to do is re-read the stimulus proposal that came from Christine Romer and the rest of Barack Obama’s economic advisers in January 2009, before Obama took office and delivered a stimulus proposal to Congress. This proposal formed the basis for the claim that Porkulus would keep unemployment below 8% and restart the economy. How much did Romer propose spending to have that effect? Let’s look at page 4, emphasis mine:
A. Aggregate Jobs Effects
Estimating the aggregate employment effects of the proposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan involves several steps. The first is to specify a prototypical package. We have assumed a package just slightly over the $775 billion currently under discussion. It includes a range of measures, all of which have been discussed publicly.
The only other figure mentioned for the total expenditure on a stimulus package in this proposal is $600 billion, in a quote from Mark Zandi on the potential breakout of efforts from government stimulus on page 9. Using the “slightly over the $775 billion” model (Democrats got $862 billion from Congress), these were the projections made by Romer and the incoming Obama administration for impact on the unemployment rate — and the actual results, from Innocent Bystanders:
Joe Biden offered a flat-out, horse-crap lie to Tapper in this interview. The Obama White House got exactly the amount of stimulus they wanted, and more. The stimulus didn’t fail because Congress didn’t spend enough money. It failed because Barack Obama and Joe Biden have no idea what they’re doing, and they’re proving that much every day they’re in office.
Update: From the comments, here’s a quote from Barack Obama on February 5th, 2009, about the size of the stimulus package:
While efforts have been under way in the Senate to whittle the plan back to $800 billion or less, Mr. Hoyer said he believed it should be higher, at like $880 billion. Earlier on Air Force One, Mr. Obama was asked by pool reporters traveling with him about the size of the proposal …
Asked if the figure shoud be $800 billion and not more, Mr. Obama said: “Well, I gave you a range. I think we’re in range.”
It ended up being $862 billion.
Update II: Via HA reader John A, here’s what Obama said four days later:
“It is the right size, it is the right scope. Broadly speaking it has the right priorities to create jobs that will jump-start our economy and transform it for the 21st century,” Obama said of the more than $800 billion bill at a rally in Elkhart, Indiana.