New White House spin: Stimulus not designed to ... stimulate; Update: Obama's stimulus speech

Old White House spin: Porkulus has stimulated the economy and “saved or created” 150,000 jobs.  New White House spin: Stimulus?  What stimulus?  ABC’s Yunji de NIes reports from somewhere down the rabbit hole, er, the White House briefing room:

Turns out the $787 billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (AARA) was not designed for full economic recovery, but rather to “stabilize” the downturn.  That’s the word from White House officials today, who held off-camera briefings with reporters on how the AARA is working so far.

“This legislation was designed to cushion the downturn,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “That’s why we have always talked about this as one function of economic recovery.”

When pressed about the change in terminology, Gibbs said he was not trying to temper expectations after the fact. “I can probably find 15 or 20 occasions when I said this in the lead up,” Gibbs said, explaining that he had always defined the AARA as part of a “multi-legged stool.”

And Eastasia has never been at war with Oceania, Winston!  Does this mean that their referencing a “stimulus” from before Obama took office to as late as, well, yesterday just never happened?

Q And they were incorporated in the stimulus, too, and it didn’t get you any final votes.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I’m happy that you acknowledge the efforts in the stimulus

Or, for that matter, two days ago?

In the near term, various factors should help to stem the downturn and eventually increase overall production and lead to employment growth.  Most obviously, the ARRA provides $787 billion of fiscal stimulus spread primarily over the next two years.  This fiscal stimulus takes a number of forms:  tax cuts for working families and businesses; protection of the most vulnerable through programs such as extended unemployment compensation; direct government spending on infrastructure, energy efficiency projects, and other public investments; and fiscal relief for state governments to help maintain key services.  Taken together, the various forms of fiscal stimulus are expected to provide powerful upward pressure on aggregate demand and to aid recovery.

Translation?  The White House has just about given up hope that Porkulus will show any positive upward pressure this year, which is no great surprise, since most of the spending happens in year two – and most of that will not be a stimulus as much as a wish list of liberal fantasies.  Unfortunately, they sold it as a short-term solution to unemployment as well as a stimulus.  Now that neither have succeeded, they have to spin it as something entirely different.

Best of luck with that.  Voters have already grown disenchanted with HopeNChange, as Obama’s declining poll numbers amply demonstrate.  Telling voters that this is as good as it gets after waltzing out the door with $800 billion isn’t going to make them love Obama more.

Update: Just a reminder from Slublog about how Obama sold Porkulus in early January:

That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jumpstart job creation and long-term growth. …

There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable.  It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short-term.  But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes, and confidence in our economy.  It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe.

But it’s not a “stimulus.”  Riiiiiiiiiiiight.