The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have long been forecasting that only a minority of the stimulus plan's funds would be spent by the close of this fiscal year. The lion's share will not get into the pipeline until 2010, and even that will not be entirely spent by year's end.
The recession will undoubtedly be over next year, but hundreds of billions of dollars will still be pumped into the economy for a broad swath of social programs and domestic initiatives that will produce few if any jobs in the short term.
"Very little of the provisions in the bill had anything to do with short-term economic growth. This was a wish list of liberal priorities dressed up as a stimulus bill," said Brian Riedl, the Heritage Foundation's chief budget analyst.
The bottom-line test for Obama's big-spending stimulus is, will it create the 3.5 million to 4 million jobs that he and White House advisers say it will? So far, their numbers look like a gross exaggeration, and they seem to be backpedaling on it.
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's economic adviser, said on ABCNews.com's "Top Line" last week that "positive GDP (the nation's gross domestic product) growth doesn't mean lower unemployment."
Jobs are almost always a lagging indicator in every recession, and we are in for many more months of weakness in the employment market. That wasn't the case coming out of the severe two-year recession in the early 1980s when jobs were created in the hundreds of thousands each month under President Reagan's tax-cut recovery.
But Obama's recovery is based for all intents and purposes on higher spending, not unlocking job-producing investment capital through lower tax rates. That is its critical policy flaw, which will likely mean a long period of anemic post-recession growth weighed down by massive government debt. It is said that capitalism is a self-correcting system, and we are seeing some signs that self-correction is struggling to take place. But it is running into a thorny thicket of growth-stunting regulations, higher taxes to come and a mountain of debt that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week threatened the economy's long-term recovery.
Bernanke's warnings need to be taken very seriously by the White House and Congress, which is facing a nearly $2 trillion budget deficit that could wreak havoc with America's economic future.