I note this simply because it is important to resist the facile narrative that somehow Obama proved he was a radical leftist because he supported a stimulus package (after Bush's) in the face of the worst recession since the 1930s:
In an updated report [PDF] on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the CBO said that the legislation will increase the budget deficit by $814 billion from 2009-2019, compared with an original estimate of $787 billion. “By CBO’s estimate, close to half of that impact occurred in fiscal year 2010, and about 70% of ARRA’s budgetary impact was realized by the close of that fiscal year,” the report said.
The CBO estimates that the expenditures had a big impact on the economy, though the benefits have likely peaked. For the third quarter it says the stimulus added between 1.4 and 4.1 percentage points to growth and reduced the unemployment rate by between 0.8 and two percentage points. The benefits from the stimulus are expected to wane for the rest of this year and through 2011 and 2012.
Unemployment, sans stimulus, would therefore now be between 10.4 or 11.6 percent without the stimulus. Now you can argue that the economy should have been allowed to collapse entirely and rise from the eventually settled ashes. But you cannot argue that and criticize the president for high rates of unemployment today. He did about as much as he could within the bounds of fiscal responsibility.
He acted not as a liberal or as a conservative, but as a responsible, pragmatic human being. Precisely as he promised to be. And precisely why the ideological cynics in the GOP gave him no support whatever.
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