The Dark Side Of Stimulus

June 9, 2010 09:17

Americans are getting increasingly anxious–and for good reason.

Thomas Cooley at

People are worried about the economy, and they should be. They have been told to expect a strong rebound from our deep recession. The usual pattern is that recoveries mirror the strength of the decline–the steeper the drop, the more vigorous the rebound. It isn’t happening. The latest employment report makes it clear that the economy is not adding jobs. State and local governments faced with declining revenues are being forced to cut employment, wages and services, and they are raising taxes wherever they can.

A little over a year ago the Obama administration passed a staggering $787 billion stimulus package designed to rescue the economy. More than half of that money has now been spent, and the economy is still just creaking along. But now people are realizing that there is a dark side to this spending orgy. It has to end, and then we have to pay the bill. If we need any reminders that the day of reckoning is coming we have only to look to Europe.

There is no point in arguing about how many jobs have been created or saved by stimulus spending. We don’t get to rerun history, so we won’t know what the path of employment would have been absent the stimulus package. Many in Congress would like to spend even more money to “do something” about the jobs problem. But nothing will solve the problem except economic growth. The problem we face is that the extraordinary deficits we created are likely to restrain economic growth in the future. We do have to honor that debt.


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