Oh, delicious irony. James Pethokoukis notes today that — if we accept the Obama Administration’s claim that the stimulus means we have 1.5 million fewer unemployed people today than if it hadn’t passed — then each job “saved” by the stimulus cost the American taxpayer $4.1 million.
That’s fun — but not really — because Obama promised to create (you guessed it!) 4.1 million jobs if the stimulus was passed. So, we not only have a stimulus that failed to deliver as advertised — shocking, right? — but the numbers are simply uncanny.
This should be a cautionary tale for all presidents seeking to institute Keynesian stimuli in order to prevent and fix economic recessions. Back in 2008, I warned at Townhall.com that then President George W. Bush should avoid using tax rebates, because:
From a supply-sider standpoint, none of Bush’s proposed fixes (as I understand them, currently) will change incentives. Instead of simply doing a transfer of money from the government to citizens, we ought to lower marginal rates — so people are actually encouraged to build new factories, businesses, and create new jobs. This doesn’t do that. This simply takes money from the government and gives it to people.
(I made a similar point a year or so later at Politics Daily, when I argued that a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts wouldn’t stimulate the economy.)
David Frum recently noted — derisively, nonetheless — that “we’re all Keynesians during Republican administrations.” And quite frankly, he has a point. The last President Bush was more than happy to use such policies while in office.
But we aren’t beholden to past mistakes. Republicans claim to believe the government should do more to stay out of the market’s way than to lead the market.
They should act like it.