Sometimes, the Majority of Americans Are Really Stupid

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I cannot believe this Rasmussen poll:

51 percent believe canceling the rest of the stimulus money would create more jobs.

That is insane.


It's one thing to say that canceling the rest of the stimulus money would help our deficit. That's arguable, even if I think it's dead wrong, since the best way to help our deficit is to put people back to work when demand is nonexistent so that they (1) receive taxable income and (2) spend that taxable income on products to help other people's taxable income. In our 2009 deficit, $300 billion came from lower tax receipts, $100 billion came from stimulus tax cuts and about $100 billion came from stimulus spending. One hundred billion. Blaming the January stimulus for the $1.4 trillion deficit like blaming a pack of Skittles for a cavity.

The idea that canceling the stimulus would create more jobs implies that passing the stimulus has actually killed more jobs than it's created, which is bonkers. Let's say you don't want to consider infrastructure spending or green technology spending or a single job that might have been created in the private sector. If nothing else, the tens of billions we've sent to state budgets have, without question, saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, like teachers, that are supported by state taxes. It's just a very basic fact.

So this is a crazy statistic, but I think it's important to ask why Americans think the stimulus is actually hurting job-creation. It's a dumb thing to think, but it must be coming from somewhere. I worry that it's things like this.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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