Appearing on ABC's "This Week," former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (why do they give him a forum?) offered the Democratic Party's defense of the Obama economy. The Republicans, Spitzer sputtered "want to go back to medieval medicine, the bloodletting, leeches. They want to go back to the very crazy economics that brought us over the cliff and created a cataclysm."
Ah, ABC must have hired him for his high-minded contribution to the debate. Spitzer continued: "What we tried here under Barack Obama is Keynesian economics, restructure the economy, invest where you need to. It worked for 70 years. It will work in the next 100 years. That is what the public should focus on."
Spitzer must not have been paying attention when we experienced stagflation in the 1970s -- impossible under the Keynesian model. Does Spitzer really want the public to focus on the Obama economic record? The president doesn't seem to. He scarcely mentions the nearly $1 trillion economic stimulus, Dodd-Frank or Obamacare. He seems more eager to talk about free contraceptives, gay marriage and bashing the rich. Obama doesn't seem to think there's anything to boast about. In fact, he's been creative about finding excuses. The financial crisis was worse than we knew, he says. Or it was the Japanese earthquake, the European debt crisis or the Arab Spring.
Let's take Spitzer up on his invitation and focus on the economic record. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was supposed to jump-start the economy and keep unemployment below 8 percent, clearly failed. Unemployment topped 10 percent after the stimulus became law and has remained above 8 percent since.
In their new book, "Debacle," John Lott and Grover Norquist remind us that the Obama administration had all of the data about the severity of the economic crisis of 2008 by the first months of 2009. Yet in May of 2009, Obama claimed that the stimulus was "already seeing results," and "laying the foundation for a better economy." By September, Vice President Biden was saying, "In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would work this well." The summer of 2010, administration spokesmen crowed, would be the "Recovery Summer."
It wasn't. The economy limped along. Unemployment climbed to 9.6 percent. President Obama himself acknowledged in October 2010 that he had learned something: "There's no such thing as shovel-ready projects."