On several occasions during his press conference last night, President Obama invoked economists, both liberal and conservative, as backing the premises on which the Democratic stimulus rests. For example:
I’ve said is what other (sic) economists have said across the political spectrum, which is that, if you delay acting on an economy of this severity, then you potentially create a negative spiral that becomes much more difficult for us to get out of.
Most economists almost unanimously recognize that, even if philosophically you’re — you’re wary of government intervening in the economy, when you have the kind of problem we have right now — what started on Wall Street, goes to Main Street, suddenly businesses can’t get credit, they start paring back their investment, they start laying off workers, workers start pulling back in terms of spending — that, when you have that situation, that government is an important element of introducing some additional demand into the economy.
That’s why the figure that we initially came up with of approximately $800 billion was put forward. That wasn’t just some random number that I plucked out of — out of a hat. That was Republican and Democratic, conservative and liberal economists that I spoke to who indicated that, given the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that it’s happening worldwide, it’s important for us to have a bill of sufficient size and scope that we can save or create 4 million jobs.
And, you know, when you talk to economists, there’s some general sense of how we’re going to move forward. There’s some strong consensus about the need for a recovery package of a certain magnitude. There’s a strong consensus that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, all tax cuts or all investment, but that there should be a range of approaches.
But Brian Reidl of the Heritage Foundation shows that the Democratic approach to stimulus has been roundly criticized by leading economists on both sides of the political spectrum. In fact, the approach Obama backs was attacked last year by economists who now work for the administration. These economists include Christina Romer, head of the Council of Economic Advisors, Larry Sommers, Director of the National Economic Council, and Peter Orszag, the Budget Director. And, of course, the economists at the non-partisan CBO think that the Democratic plan will probably do more harm than good.
Thus, Obama’s efforts to portray his pork-package as reflecting the “almost unanimous” consensus of economists represents yet more deception on his part.
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