The Recovery Act’s six-month birthday

I’m getting e-mails today from leading House Republicans who claim the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law six months ago today, is a failure because it didn’t cause the nation’s enormous, complex economy to turn on a dime and instantaenously fix all that ails America. For example, from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“By any objective standard, the Democrats’ trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ isn’t working. The Administration promised the ‘stimulus’ would provide a ‘jolt’ to our economy and create jobs immediately, but 2.8 million more Americans have lost their jobs since the ‘stimulus’ became law. The American people are asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ The Administration’s insistence on spending, taxing, and borrowing more than ever is not the answer they’re seeking. Instead, it is burying our children and grandchildren under an unmanageable mountain of debt. Families and small businesses expect and deserve far better. Rather than pursuing more job-killing policies like a government takeover of health care and a national energy tax, Democrats should work with Republicans on better solutions that create jobs, curb spending, and control the debt.”

Or from Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the House Education and Labor Committee’s ranking Republican:

“Democrats in Washington rushed enactment of the so-called economic stimulus package with promises that it would stem the tide of unemployment and provide a jolt to our struggling economy. Half a year later, an additional 2.8 million Americans have lost their jobs, and the only thing that seems to have been stimulated is massive government bureaucracy.”

Or from Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee:

“After six months, it is clear that the only thing the stimulus bill has done is balloon our national deficit at a record-setting pace. The Administration told the American people that this bill would create jobs and prevent unemployment from going higher than 8 percent — yet the national unemployment rate is already 9.4 percent. Where are the jobs that were supposed to be immediately created from this trillion dollar bill? With each passing day, the list of questions regarding this ineffective spending bill grows longer and longer.”

Horsepucky, replies Brad DeLong, a University of California, Berkeley economics professor and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. (He used a different term, but hey, we’re a family news organization here.)

“The economy was in freefall, with output declining at a 6 percent annual rate each quarter when Obama took office,” DeLong said, but after the stimulus, the GDP (gross domestic product) shrunk by only 1 percent in the second quarter and is projected to increase by about 2 percent in this third quarter. “That’s a hell of a rapid turnaround, and the big regret is that George W. Bush didn’t have the guts to propose a stimulus back in September when it became apparent that one was needed.”

“Job losses are a lagging indicator and will be three or four months behind what’s happening to production,” DeLong said. “You’ve got to turn production around before you can turn employment around.”

DeLong’s complaints about the stimulus are that it was “too late and also somewhat too small” — the Obama Administration wanted more than $1 trillion in spending, but walked it back “because Obama decided he was going to be bipartisan, that he would take good policy and then walk two steps toward the Republicans and hold out his hand, and in retrospect that seems like a big mistake on his part. … He could’ve rammed through a bigger stimulus that would’ve done more good, but he thought he should start his presidency on a bipartisan, nonpartisan note.” Yet House Republicans remain in a ” ‘let’s oppose everything and try to make Obama’s presidency look like a failure’ ” stance, DeLong said.

If you’re wondering how ARRA money is being spent in your area, go take a look: staffers for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, say about $326 million has been allocated for spending in her 9th Congressional District, with details available on her Web site. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, set up a Google map showing ARRA spending in his 13th Congressional District and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi set one up for the 10th Congressional District, which he hopes to represent after the upcoming special election.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Steve Berg

    One more sign that it is no longer the party of Republicans, but rather the party of Republican’ts. Pathetic.

  • Allen Payton

    We can and we want all individual AmeriCANs to be able to have greater freedom, more choices and more of their own money in their pockets to be able to afford the choices.
    We also recognize the fact that overspending by the gov’t is NOT the solution and printing too much money leads to massive inflation. We CAN’T afford it.
    Plus, we CAN’T afford to nationalize health care.
    What we CAN do is reform healthcare with a variety of solutions, some of which take government action, including tort reform.
    So, let’s not spend the rest of this fiat – FAKE – money, which will cost us way too much, starting next year.
    If the gov’t had loaned the money to these companies instead of giving it away, that would have at least been a little better.
    Or had they given it to the people to pay off our home loans – the banks would have still ended up with the funds – and it would have reduced our personal debts, allowing us to keep up with the inflation the overprinting of our currency is causing and which we can expect starting next year.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    If UC furloughs the good professor, he won’t mind since he’d simply be another part of a lagging indicator.

  • Rebecca

    These fools who now so stridently claim,
    that the country to hell is the Democrat’s aim.
    Seem to have the most selective of minds,
    for they forget the pre-Obama years when the blue eyed fool led the blind.

    It was then that we had ardent revolutionaries running Congress who did shout,
    we promise a contract if you throw those Democrats out.
    But once in office the contract time and again they broke,
    and pay-for-play Delay and countless others made sure that ethics were a joke.

    Now for fiscal restraint they scream today,
    But when in power had no problems throwing billions away.
    On corporate cronies, on new entitlements, and wars of choice in oil rich lands,
    On Blackwater and Haliburton who profit from our soldiers deaths in the sand.

    They say war is hell, but not so says the Republicans in earnest,
    For under them the only sacrifice was made by our brave soldiers in service.
    For them the wounded they offered only deficient post service medical aid,
    But to all others a tax cut to buy unregulated poisonous children’s toys and milk in China made.

    They now claim that they are about freedom and individual choice,
    But when in power the most intrusive government Terri Schiavo and others would tell you they did foist.
    Repeal the most basic laws from Habeas Corpus hard won in the Magna Carte,
    To torturing prisoners which George Washington himself protested against with great ardor.

    These fools now insist less government in capitalism is best,
    Even as we stand on the ruins of their unregulated Wall Street mess.
    The great recession and collapse of the world market started under Bush II,
    But the Republicans act as though they had nothing to do with it – that it is all new.
    So when a black man is like many before him told to clean up these mostly old white southern men’s mess,
    they bitch, moan, and kibitz saying it should cost far less.

    They foolishly push creationism in schools – science be damned,
    global warming is a hoax, as is Obama’s citizenship – he’s not born in this land.
    Just because these knuckleheads New Orleans and the country did screw,
    doesn’t mean that they have to do it to me and you.
    So just remember that when you hear them whine and shout out,
    it is because they are like many hypocrites before them a breed dying out.

  • Elwood

    Your poetry sucks.

    As does your logic.

  • Steve Berg

    Why do you think that Rebecca’s logic sucks here?
    I think that most Democrats and Independents would think it reflects a fairly cogent and accurate summation. Could it be that you are a Republican’t shilling for Garamendi?
    Pls try to respond in more than 2 sophomoric bile filled sentences and in a way which doesn’t convolutedly support Garamendi.

  • BJD

    Damn it, I have to agree with Elwood again.

  • Steve Berg

    BJD, Strange how you always reluctantly do….almost like you are an avatar for him.

  • Steve Berg

    BJD, Apologies for my slight against you….I just looked at your very clever website link. I sent my post #8 w/o the benefit of morning coffee.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    I’ve reread the column and disagree with the esteemed Berkeley economist even more. Cash for Clunkers is the only part of the stimulus money most citizens have seen; the rest of the dough is trickling down and evaporating (mostly on bank balance sheets)before the average guy feels a drop.

  • Elwood

    Cash for Clunkers has benefited primarily Japanese manufacturers:


    You’d think someone as smart as The Chosen One would have limited the giveaway of our tax dollars to American manufacturers.

  • BJD

    Honda and Toyota employ more (non-corparate) Americans than the big three. By 2012, Toyota hopes to have 100% of Toyota automobiles and trucks American made.

    Mr. Berg, Thanks for the “Clever” comment. We at Slurve love all things clever.

  • Arne Simonsen

    Sorry, we can’t afford the candles to “celebrate”. My wife’s company went bankrupt and closed! No reason to “celebrate” a failed bailout for millionaires and auto unions.