Many liberals believe that government policies have little impact on the economy. A number have expressed that view to me privately. They think that the private sector will produce wealth regardless of what happens in Washington, and the only question is how to split it up. I think that is what President Obama and his advisers believed when he took office. The country was in economic turmoil from which it inevitably would recover, as it always does. When it did, Obama would get the credit.
In the meantime, the administration’s mantra was “never let a crisis go to waste.” Obama saw economic decline as an opportunity to pave the way for socialized medicine, to enact a near-trillion-dollar payoff to public sector unions in the guise of “stimulus,” and to extend the government’s control over various sectors of industry.
I think Obama and his advisers were genuinely surprised, not that their policies didn’t bring about economic recovery–they couldn’t have expected that–but that recovery didn’t happen of its own accord. That is why they are so nonplussed today. They never actually believed that Obamacare, bailouts, “stimulus” and so on would help the economy, so they know the answer now is not more of the same.
There are, of course, many things the federal government could do that would help the economy, like lightening the regulatory burden and cutting spending. But to acknowledge that would be a repudiation of liberalism, so the administration comes up with a laughable “Department of Jobs” proposal instead. Mostly, at this point, the administration is just hoping for the best.
Michael Ramirez makes the point graphically: