When the Facts Don’t Help Pound the Table

February 18, 2010

When you’re president of the United States and your primary claim to fame is your economic prowess but your economic record fails by all objective measures, what do you do? You call on your skills as a virtuoso propagandist.

With the perceived catastrophic economic crisis of 2008-09, President Barack Obama captured the presidency at the perfect time in America’s modern history for him to unleash his grandiose socialist policies — policies so ambitious that the American people would never have tolerated them under any other circumstances.

With the nation in near panic over the impending doom of the economy, Obama presented his now-infamous “stimulus plan” to artificially create government demand by spending more than $800 billion of borrowed money to “jump-start the economy.”

Being a die-hard Keynesian, Obama probably believed his program would create jobs. But given his attitude about the wealthy being undeserving of their good fortune, he probably wasn’t risking too much in the event it didn’t work. The funds would redistribute wealth to those less fortunate and whom society, in Obama’s view, has cheated. It would also force allocations of money to “green” enterprises that would never be pursued if left to the sanity of private-sector consumer demand, further expand the public sector in general and provide ample slush money to reward unions and other supporters to shore up his re-election efforts.

According to Keynesian theory, as I understand it, it doesn’t matter much where the government spends other people’s money — just as long as it spends it. Once the money is injected into the economy (never mind that an equal amount is taken out of the economy from the private sector), a multiplier effect unfolds to stimulate economic growth and jobs.

But just to hedge his bets, Obama was careful in choosing his words in predicting the coming prosperity. He said he would “save or create 3 million jobs” — or whatever number suited his purposes at the particular speech he was giving. Reasonable people said at the time that this was a bizarre formulation — that it would be impossible to prove or disprove such a claim — but the media dutifully ignored the skeptics.

But Obama wasn’t always disciplined in his message. Sometimes he allowed his exalted opinion of himself to seduce him into projecting that his plan would guarantee that unemployment would not exceed 8 percent.

A year later, with employment still about 10 percent, Obama has dispatched his minions to tout the enormous “success” of his plan, without which, he claims, we would have suffered a depression. It’s no accident that he included “audacity” in the title of one of his books.

By every reasonable measure, his stimulus plan has been an abject failure. When you examine the empirical evidence, you’ll find there is an inverse relationship between the monies he spent and employment; as more money was spent, there was less employment. The chart doesn’t lie.

Obama now claims he saved some 2 million jobs that would not have been saved but for his stimulus package. But as Heritage Foundation scholars note, he bases his numbers not on any evidence whatsoever, but on the preposterously circular argument that Keynesian theory holds that these government expenditures must have created that number of jobs.

But in fact, reports Heritage, we have lost 3 million real jobs held by real people (as opposed to cartoon characters producing widgets), making the gap between Obama’s promised 3 million jobs gained and the actual jobs lost some 6 million jobs. In the meantime, most of the money Obama purloined from the private sector has been completely wasted. Did you see the report that his inane plan to create 90,000 “green” jobs throughout America has succeeded in weatherizing only 9,000 homes at an average cost of $57,362? But don’t worry; Obama hasn’t finished spending all our money yet, and he’s planning a second stimulus as we speak. There is never a shortage of cartoon characters or widgets.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that history doesn’t repeat. For 70 years, liberals have been spinning the yarn that FDR’s New Deal, despite all the evidence that it exacerbated and prolonged the Great Depression, quickened our economic recovery. Indeed, I remember scratching my head when one of my college history professors in the 1970s tried to convince us of that theory and its corollary — an even better howler — that FDR was actually a conservative, because if he hadn’t implemented his socialist programs, the republic would have died right there.

But despite all of Obama’s assaults on America and its solvency during the past year, we have witnessed one encouraging development: The American people aren’t buying his propaganda anymore — so let him keep talking.