Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So after a $787 billion stimulus that was supposed to create (not merely save) 3.3 million net jobs but instead saw 3.4 million net jobs lost, House Democrats this week have doubled down by (barely) passing yet another $150 billion stimulus bill. Of course, if deficit-spending created jobs and growth, then the staggering $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009 would have already overheated the economy.
The new stimulus bill is offensive on a number of levels. Most of it’s provisions — such as highways ($28 billion) mass transit & Amtrak ($9 billion), education jobs funds ($38 billion) — we’re already funded by the last stimulus, only a quarter of which has been spent thus far. Why not just move that spending up? These plus the extension of other stimulus provisions like the state Medicaid bailout and COBRA health benefits further make a mockery out of the Democrats’ guarantee that the $787 billion stimulus represented one-time spending that would not be extended.
President Obama is employing the gimmick of “offsetting” some of this spending with TARP savings. It’s a sham. Imagine a family secures a new credit card with a $10,000 credit limit to pay for emergency car repairs. The final repair bill comes to $8,000, so the family charges the final $2,000 for a new television while arguing that it is from car repair “savings” and thus will not add to their household debt. The Obama administration is clearly adding $150 billion that would not otherwise have been spent and added to the debt, even as they play accounting games.
The American people understand that stimulus spending does not work. Rasmussen reports that 62 percent of Americans oppose the new stimulus, and 51 percent agree that more jobs would be created by repealing what’s left of the $787 billion monstrosity. Even Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer has written that tax relief is a much more effective stimulus than new spending. However, by passing a new stimulus bill every few months, the Obama White House is setting itself up to claim credit whenever the recession inevitably ends. The question is how much debt they will accumulate in the meantime.
Cross-posted at The Corner.