Defending The Stimulus: Unemployment Vs. Deficit

Economists estimate that the stimulus has, in fact, created or saved around a million jobs since its inception, and while Republicans point to the unemployment rate and claim that the stimulus hasn't worked, Democrats have tried to defend their $787 billion bill by pointing to the help it has delivered. But Richard Posner points out that defending the stimulus is tough, because the help isn't necessarily what the public is focusing on, as unemployment and the deficit have been conflated.

Some Americans have aimed their attention and economic anxiety at the national debt, rather than the employment rate; insofar as America's debt is the focus, praising the stimulus's job creation isn't so effective. Posner writes:

The problem with defending the stimulus is that the defense, ineptly made by the administration and by private economists and economic journalists, all of whom have failed to explain depression economics to the public, has been overtaken by public concerns with the federal deficit. The health care debate has amplified these concerns, less I think because of the $1 trillion price tag on the administration's program of health care reform as because of the attention that the debates over the program have drawn to the seeming hopelessness of the federal fiscal situation.

Read the full post at Posner's Atlantic Correspondents blog.