What does President Barack Obama know about the economy and what the government can and cannot do to create jobs?
A fair measure is the economic stimulus plan Obama pushed through Congress in his first month in office. Did it work?
On Jan. 9, 2009, less than two weeks before Obama's inauguration, Christina Romer, who would chair Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an adviser to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, published the incoming administration's analysis of the "job impact" they expected from Obama's stimulus.
At the time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. In their analysis, Romer and Bernstein said that if Congress approved Obama's plan, unemployment would not rise above 8.0 percent -- and they published a chart predicting it would drop below 6.0 percent sometime in 2012.
Well, Congress approved Obama's stimulus plan (which the Congressional Budget Office estimates cost $831 billion), and we are now in the second quarter of 2012. What has happened to unemployment?
In February 2009, when Obama signed the stimulus, unemployment spiked to 8.3 percent. Since then, it has never dropped below 8.0 percent.
We are now into the second quarter of 2012, the year Romer and Bernstein predicted unemployment would be drop below 6 percent. It now stands at 8.1 percent.
A standard line in President Obama's current stump speech attacks those who advocate "we go right back to the policies that created this mess." The president's implication is that the economic situation in America today, insofar as it has been caused by government policies, has not been caused by his government's policies.
But, in reality, Obama is implicitly admitting his economic policies have failed.
After all, three years ago Obama's top economic adviser told the country that if Congress approved Obama's plan unemployment would never top 8 percent and would drop below 6 percent this year. It did top 8 percent. It is nowhere near 6 percent today.
Obama's blaming the sad state of our economy on someone else's policies is not only an implicit admission of failure but an attempt to deflect debate from his failure.
Lawrence Lindsey, who served as economic adviser to President George W. Bush, argued in a Weekly Standard essay last year that the proposition made by Obama's stimulus was absurd on it face.