Economists Agree: The Stimulus Worked

Bloomberg ran a column yesterday debunking the entire economic argument against the policies of President Obama titled "The U.S. Economic Policy Debate is a Sham," and, not surprisingly, a poll conducted by the University of Chicago found very few economists that agree with the opposition.

The first and most obvious result they found was that economists agree the stimulus worked, but for the purposes of this campaign, the latter is probably more important.

Let’s start with Obama’s stimulus. The standard Republican talking point is that it failed, meaning it didn’t reduce unemployment. Yet in a survey of leading economists conducted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, 92 percent agreed that the stimulus succeeded in reducing the jobless rate. On the harder question of whether the benefit exceeded the cost, more than half thought it did, one in three was uncertain, and fewer than one in six disagreed.

Or consider the widely despised bank bailouts. Populist politicians on both sides have taken to pounding the table against them (in many cases, only after voting for them). But while the public may not like them, there’s a striking consensus that they helped: The same survey found no economists willing to dispute the idea that the bailouts lowered unemployment. [...]

How about the oft-cited Republican claim that tax cuts will boost the economy so much that they will pay for themselves? It’s an idea born as a sketch on a restaurant napkin by conservative economist Art Laffer. Perhaps when the top tax rate was 91 percent, the idea was plausible. Today, it’s a fantasy. The Booth poll couldn’t find a single economist who believed that cutting taxes today will lead to higher government revenue -- even if we lower only the top tax rate.

They couldn't find a single economist who believed cutting taxes will somehow magically increase revenue.

Economists surveyed also unanimously agreed on several policy items that neither party seems willing to embrace, however I would add that the Republicans are the ones who have arbitrarily declared certain things to be "off the table."

From 2009 through the present day, the president has reiterated that if you have a solid policy proposal with functioning math, you should bring it to him. But the Republicans don't have that. All they have is Tax Cut Magic and empty rhetoric. And in hindsight they could probably accomplish much more of what they want if they were more pragmatic.

  • eljefejeff

    so will democrats successfully get this message out? No way

    • IrishGrrrl

      I don’ t know if it’s possible to overcome the chorus of voices on the right that say the exact opposite. Jeff Greenfield (false equivalency genius) had an editorial online yesterday and in the Yahoo comments one person posted the President had actually reduced the debt….you would not believe the number and vitriol of people that attacked that poster. It was astounding. How can anyone fight such back against that? Treat this as rhetorical….. I am just feeling pretty disheartened right now.

  • Brutlyhonest

    I’ve seen brother karl’s ads and know for a fact that the stimulus failed. Politico, a WSJ editorial, and chuck schumer agreed!