In a non-political, budget-wonk kind of way, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag tells Black Enterprise in an interview that, yes, according to other people's projections, the stimulus package was responsible for all 3.5 percent of the GDP's third-quarter growth, which was reported yesterday. From the interview:
How much of the current growth in the third quarter is the result of stimulus-related activity spurred by the federal government?
Well, the overall growth rate was 3.5% and you can take a variety of models. For example, Goldman Sachs suggests that the Recovery Act added 3.3%. Mark Zandi [economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com] says 3.6%. The President's Council of Economic Advisors also says 3.6%. The Congressional Budget Office gives a range of between 2% and 5%. So, average that and call it 3.5%. Basically, they're all in the 3% to 4% range. Therefore one could say that all the growth in the third quarter is attributable to the impact of the recovery act. Another way of putting is, without the recovery act--given these estimates of its impact--the economy would have been flat rather that growing during the third quarter.
It's far from jumping up and down and taunting Republicans and tea-party activists...not that that's Orszag's style. And besides, unemployment is on the cusp of 10 percent--a point Orszag makes in the interview--so, from the White House's vantage point, the GDP number is, basically, just a nice number: when jobs return, the economy will really be getting better.
Coincidentally, unemployment is the number that most indicates how people's lives are going, and, as such, it's the number that carries the most political weight. It would be inappropriate, and politically unwise, for the White House to jump up and down after the 3.5 percent number was released. The struggling working class cares more about whether they have jobs than about GDP numbers.