Hate It or Love It, the Stimulus Worked

Mitt Romney is scheduled to give a speech this afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa, where he’ll focus “on the unprecedented growth of government, spending and debt under President Obama.” The American Spectator has excerpts from the address, and they are–for anyone who cares about truthfulness–rage inducing:

President Obama started his days in office with the trillion-dollar stimulus package – the biggest, most careless one-time expenditure by the federal government in history. And remember this: the stimulus wasn’t just wasted – it was borrowed and wasted. We still owe the money, we’re still paying interest on it, and it’ll be that way long after this presidency ends in January.

Last year, Dylan Matthews did a thorough round-up of studies on the effectiveness of the stimulus. His conclusion was that the stimulus worked to stem the damage of the economic collapse and improve the short-term economic outlook. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office issued data on whether the stimulus worked. In turn, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities used that data to show–without a doubt–that the stimulus worked.

First, with the stimulus, gross domestic product is higher than it otherwise would have been:

Likewise, stimulus kept the unemployment rate from rising past 10 percent, and saved millions of jobs:

The problem isn’t that stimulus was ineffective, it’s that there wasn’t enough. In particular, balanced-budget requirements on the state level forced huge cuts in the public workforce, and imposed a huge amount of drag on the economy. If government employment were at the same level as it was at the end of 2008, unemployment would be at or below 7 percent. Additional aid to states would have kept those workers employed, but it was blocked (or cut) by Republicans and conservative Democrats.

It should also be said that Romney is in no position to squawk about the deficit; taken together, his policies would increase the deficit by an additional $6.2 trillion over the next decade, and at the same time, slash social spending for all but the wealthiest Americans..

The simple fact is this: When Romney claims–as he does on a near-daily basis–that the stimulus is responsible for our economic woes, he is peddling an easily debunked falsehood. But because this is the view of the Republican Party writ large, its treated as just another “side” in the debate, and not a deliberate attack on our shared reality.

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