62% of Americans: The Stimulus Is Failing

The Recovery Act cut taxes by more than $100 billion and spent another $150 billion in 2009 on projects like Medicaid, schools and infrastructure projects while raising GDP by an estimated one to three percentage points at the end of the year. So this is not good:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans do not believe the $787 billion stimulus package the president passed last year has helped create jobs, according to a new Pew Research Poll.

 Not good, but not surprising. Only 12 percent of Americans know that the administration cut taxes in the Recovery Act. Maybe they don't know what the stimulus legislation looks like, but they know what the job market looks like. Ten percent unemployed. Another six percent underemployed. They also know what the hiring market looks like: April 2010 hiring is still at April 2009 levels, despite nine months of economic growth.

If you look at the economy from any corner in New York's financial district, it looks like the machine is buzzing again. Bank of America and JPMorgan both announced big quarters with billions of dollars in revenue from trading. If you look at the economy from a Main Street corner, you get a different picture. Indeed, BofA and JPM are still dealing with losses in their credit card and real estate sectors.

This poll isn't evidence that the stimulus failed. It's evidence that Americans evaluate the economy by how bad things are, and not by the difference between how bad things are and how bad they could be.

(graph from Pew).