As Harvard economist Greg Mankiw writes, "In light of the shifting baseline, it is impossible to hold the administration accountable for whether its policies are achieving their intended effects."
"The administration, however, has not been particularly in admitting to this lack of accountability. Indeed, the act of releasing quarterly reports on how many jobs have been 'created or saved' gives the illusion of accountability without the reality."
This lack of accountability -- this claim of success no matter what happens -- should surprise no one. Many of us warned about it months ago. Remember, Obama didn't promise to create 3.5 million jobs. He promised to create or save that many. There is no way to test that. If you still have your job, does that mean Obama saved it? If an entrepreneur created a new job, in spite of Obama's destructive anti-business regulatory apparatus, does Obama still deserve the credit?
As I wrote in February: "Given time, the economy, unless totally crippled by government intervention, will regenerate itself. That's because an economy is not a machine that needs jumpstarting. It is people who have objectives they want to achieve. They will not sit on their hands forever waiting for government to 'fix' things. Instead, they work to overcome obstacles to get what they want. Some banks are struggling, but there are still people who want to lend money and people who want to borrow it. They will find each other without government help."
But I underestimated this administration. I expected it to say, in the face of continued rising unemployment, that the "stimulus" wasn't big enough. Instead, it claims success.
I suppose I should be relieved. Claiming success is far less destructive than another irresponsible "stimulus." I'm grateful for small favors.