Obama’s Gamble

James Pethokoukis at Reuters Blogs: [emphasis mine]

Obama took a tremendous economic and political gamble last January. The new president had the option of putting forward a stimulus plan that would attempt to reverse or significantly dampen America’s terrible economic downturn ASAP. The quickest and most effective approach would have been a big cut in payroll taxes. For $800 billion, combined Social Security and Medicare taxes could have been slashed by 6 percentage points, or 40 percent. That would have put $1,500 in worker paychecks and, according to one credible study, increased employment by 4 million jobs in 2009.

Instead, Obama chose to listen to Rahm “Never let a crisis go to waste” Emanuel and put forward an $800 billion plan that advanced his healthcare [sic], energy and education policy goals — but pretty much neglected the economy in 2009. Team Obama had to fully understand this. Indeed, a study from the Congressional Budget Office study — when led by current Obama budget chief Peter Orszag — concluded that an Obama-like economic stimulus package would be “totally impractical” because it would take so long to implement. (True enough, only seven percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been doled out so far.)

Presidential gamble. In short, Obama wagered that the deluge of money coming from the Federal Reserve would do the heavy lifting as far as stabilizing the financial sector and keeping the already apparent recession from turning into a real disaster. Voters would, thus, continue to support his policies to assert more government control over healthcare [sic], heavily regulate energy through a costly cap-and-trade program and further intervene into the financial industry.

The gamble appears to have failed miserably, both economically and politically.

That it would fail economically isn’t surprising, as many cautioned that Obama was spending too much money, directing it at the wrong things, and funding projects that wouldn’t be implemented until long after the economy was expected to recover.

Whether Obama’s gamble will fail politically remains to be seen. If the media ever starts doing its job, holding Obama accountable for his policies and fact checking what he says against the reality, we may be looking at a one-term president.

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