Could the administration have gotten a bigger stimulus through Congress? Even if it couldn’t, would it have been better off making the case for a bigger plan, rather than pretending that what it got was just right? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that the inadequacy of the stimulus has been a political catastrophe. Yes, things are better than they would have been without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: the unemployment rate would probably be close to 12 percent right now if the administration hadn’t passed its plan. But voters respond to facts, not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration’s policies have failed.
The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.