Experts on Whether It's Too Soon for a Verdict on the Stimulus: Three Brookings scholars and a suburban Washington mayor agreed on one thing: No one can realistically pronounce the massive $787 billion stimulus bill either a flop or a triumph at this point.... Economist Barry Bosworth launched the discussion on a skeptical note, saying that the recession may be ending but "the government stimulus did not have a lot to do with the recovery"...
I wouldn't call Barry Bosworth an especially good friend of mine, but I know Barry Bosworth, but David Broder is simply wrong if believes Barry Bosworth is undecided about the worth of Obama's fiscal boost program--that is "skeptical" and thinks it might be "either a flop or a triumph."
You go to the first page of Bosworth's slides http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/events/2009/0813_stimulus/bosworth_stimulus_panel.pdf, and you see "recession is ending," and on the next line you see that the economic expansion that is likely to begin now has four sources: "low inventory position, automobile demand below replacement, stimulus spending, monetary stabilization." That's not what you write if you think that the stimulus might well be a flop.
I can't find a transcript of what Broder went to see on Thursday, but here's Bosworth from last December:
Getting Through the Economic Meltdown: [W]e have now run the course of major monetary policy actions... the current situation calls out for large fiscal policy direct impact on the real sector of the economy.... People used to argue about fiscal stimulus.... There’s no need to choose anymore, we used to argue that we wanted it to be quick and temporary, now temporary is far less important. This recession is going to go on for several more years, so yes we want to be quick we have to get doing more because as we sit here debating what to do hundreds and thousands of people are losing their jobs every month, so we got to move more quickly, but I think the Federal Government can now afford to do things like cutting taxes but they can also do a lot of expenditures...
Reports to me on the Brookings presentation that David Broder saw say that Bosworth made three interesting points:
that the big problem with the stimulus was that it was passed not last September--when it became obvious that it was needed--but rather at the start of February; the four months' delay was very damaging (not in handout).
that the Obama administration accomplished the remarkable feat of boosting unemployment benefits and cutting taxes enough to completely offset the fall in disposable income that would otherwise have taken place in the first half of the year (page 6 of handout).
that we already have a second stimulus on the way in the form of the Obama fiscal 2010 budget; it's too early to decide whether we need a third one (page 8 of handout).
I understand that the Washington Post is simply not in the business of getting smart, informed people to write things telling its readers what is going on.
But if we can't have journalism, can't we at least have stenography? Can't the Washington Post have someone who can accurately summarize what Barry Bosworth said?
UPDATE: firstname.lastname@example.org emails:
I was at the Brookings forum on stimulus on Thursday and can confirm that your guess was right; B[arry ]B[osworth]'s view was basically that the best criticisms of the stimulus were that it was:
- too slow;
- too small;
- too much in silly tax cuts out of which the M[arginal ]P[ropensity to ]C[onsume] will be much less than 1.
Attaturk FTW with his Shorter David Broder:
Rising Hegemon: Forget the fact that the evidence is clear that the stimulus is aiding in slowly turning around the economic disaster I pretty much ignored and never understood, some guys who I cannot understand said some stuff I cannot understand so I'm writing a column about stuff I cannot understand. Where's my pudding?