Obama Stimulus Shrinks Economy, Kills Jobs

Obama Stimulus Shrinks Economy, Kills Jobs

May 31, 2009
Originally published in Opposing Views

Most of the $800 billion stimulus package has yet to be spent, but it’s already harming the economy, both by triggering trade wars that have cost at least 40,000 jobs, and by driving up interest rates for businesses that need to borrow money to expand or create jobs. (The government is keeping down interest rates on its own debt by printing vast sums of money to buy its own bonds, in order to finance the exploding national debt, which will result in massively higher taxes).

As economist Arnold Kling explains, “most of the stimulus spending does not take place until next year and beyond, so the short-run gains are puny. On the other hand, the big increase in the projected deficit creates the expectation of higher interest rates, which raises interest rates now. These higher interest rates serve to weaken the economy. According to this standard analysis, the stimulus is going to hurt GDP now, when we could use the most help. Much of the spending will kick in a year or more from now,” when the economy will already be in recovery, and “when the economy will need little, if any, stimulus. This is the flaw with using spending rather than tax cuts as a stimulus. The lags are longer when you use spending. Of course, if the real goal is to promote government at the expense of civil society” through “political favoritism, then the stimulus is working exactly as intended.”

1.2 million Americans have lost their jobs since Obama signed the stimulus package into law. The Congressional Budget Office predicted it would shrink the economy “in the long run” (contrary to Obama’s claim that it would prevent “irreversible decline“), but create jobs in the short run.

But the stimulus package turned out to be harmful even in the short run, because it was so badly designed. It poured money into sectors of the economy where no help is needed because unemployment is low, while siphoning money out of sectors where unemployment is high. Moreover, “states hit hardest by the recession are getting the least amount of stimulus spending.”

The stimulus package is just one example of the Obama Administration running up the national debt to bail out the more fortunate while sticking less fortunate people with the bill. The auto bailouts are another. They run up the national debt to keep unskilled auto workers enjoying wages and benefits that are much better than those enjoyed by the average American (while ripping off pension funds and bondholders). As Mickey Kaus notes, “Why should the government tax unskilled workers making $18 an hour, who haven’t bankrupted their employers, in order to protect unskilled workers making $28 an hour, and who have bankrupted their employers, from having to take a pay cut?”

The stimulus package has directly destroyed tens of thousands of jobs. A provision in the stimulus package that blocked a mere 97 Mexican truckers from U.S. roads “caused Mexico to retaliate with tariffs on 90 goods affecting $2.4 billion in U.S. trade,” destroying 40,000 American jobs. And its vague “buy American” provisions, despite doing little to promote purchases of U.S. products, managed to ignite a trade war with Canada.

Obama’s policies echo those of Herbert Hoover, who helped spawn the Great Depression through his protectionism and tax increases. One of Obama’s own advisers admits that “the barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama’s budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery.” Even the Washington Post, which endorsed Obama and once supported his auto bailouts, now has soured on them and their waste of taxpayer money.