At The Chart Of The Matter

Steve Benen kindly presents compelling evidence to squish “the stimulus failed, this President failed” nonsense on jobs and unemployment:

Despite last week’s annual revisions, the same metrics still apply: when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.

And with that, here’s the chart — which reflects the revised, seasonably-adjusted data — showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007. (Remember, unlike the monthly jobs chart, a lower number is good news.) For context, I’ve added an arrow to show the point at which President Obama’s Recovery Act began spending money.

 

Stimulus happens, unemployment claims go down, and they’ve been decreasing steadily now for 3 years.  The problem is it took Bush roughly one year to cause the damage, and the expectation that President Obama could fix it by any means in that short of a time frame was ridiculous.  But even by November 2010 things were remarkably better by comparison.  Would have been nice if he and the Democrats in Congress who passed the stimulus had gotten a little credit then from the voters.

Would be even better if the voters gave them credit this November, yes?






108 replies
  1. 1
    Schlemizel says:

    As if crap like evidence or facts are going to alter the debate – it is to laugh

  2. 2
    Schlemizel says:

    Also – it would have been nice if the administration and Dems in Congress had fought a little harder for actual stimulus & fewer bullshit tax cuts. That would have made that downward track steeper & made denying credit a lot harder.

    and, yes I know, those ol meanies in the GOP would not let that happen. Perhaps true but perhaps a tougher fight would have yielded better results. Both assumptions are equally valid at this point

  3. 3
    dmsilev says:

    And meanwhile, the GOP has picked Mr. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” as their nominee.

  4. 4
    dr. bloor says:

    @Schlemizel:
    This. I’m not holding my breath about Democrats being rationally rewarded by our global warming-denying, creationist and generally anti-intellectual fellow citizens.

  5. 5
    Redshift says:

    And that point a little later where it turns upward again for a bit? That’s when the Republican Congress took office.

    Fortunately there was enough momentum behind the policies by then and we were able to limit the damage they could do.

  6. 6
    Lurking Canadian says:

    I’ve seen this chart, or ones with the same message half a dozen times. The reelection campaign should use it as the watermark on all their publications unil this “failed stimulus” meme vanishes from the face of the earth.

  7. 7
    Satanicpanic says:

    @dr. bloor: But there is something to be said for arming other Democrats with the facts so that when the dummies say “it didn’t work, he made it worse” we can say “no it didn’t, unemployment claims have been dropping since 2009, stop believing everything you hear on FOX News” Hopefully anyone on the fence observing will be able to discern who the real liar is.

  8. 8
    Face says:

    What a shitty graph. X and Y axes not labeled. I’m guessing the y-axis is number of times Obama has failed America, and the x-axis represents the number of times Fox News has told us this.

  9. 9

    @Schlemizel:

    I’m sure David Gregory will pull out this chart for all to see whenever Romney or Ryan parrots “the stimulus failed!” on Meet the Press.

  10. 10
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @Satanicpanic:

    Unfortunately, in our discourse, emotions > facts, every every every time.

    It won’t matter if they have the facts backing them up, if people FEEL like everything is worse and can be successfully manipulated to feel like the Dems are the ones dropping weights on everyone’s boat.

  11. 11
    Schlemizel says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    Why, that would be rude! No way Dancin Dave would ever want to be rude to these fine gentlemen. It would be offensive, next you’d expect him to ask follow up questions when Willard or Paulie spew some easily refuted BS. Such disrespect and rudeness could bring down civilization as we know it!

  12. 12
    redshirt says:

    MSM Rules during a Democratic President: Good economic news is because of the previous Republican President or Republicans in Congress; Bad economic news is because of the current Democratic President or other Democrats in Congress.

  13. 13
    Tom Q says:

    @Redshift: Actually, to be a bit more precise: it’s when Republican GOVERNORS took office, and starting balancing their budgets by slashing state jobs (often to pay for more upper income tax cuts).

    If those cuts hadn’t been stupidly implemented, the unemployment rate would already be lower than it was when Reagan ran Morning in America in ’84.

  14. 14
    MBunge says:

    Not to let conservatives off the hook, but one of the biggest reasons the stimulus is held in such low regard is that liberal wankers like Atrios and Paul Krugman decided that screaming “The stimulus sucks!” was a great idea. They’ve trashed the stimulus almost as much and almost as consistently as any right wing moron.

    Mike

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    It is always easier to destroy than to create.

    The deserting coward is one lazy, worthless sack of shit who needs to die a number of public deaths to begin to atone for his laundry list of capital crimes.

  16. 16
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @MBunge:

    Except, you know, they weren’t trashing the stimulus wholesale, but the fact that it was insufficient. Unlike conservatives who were convinced that it would cause the imminent collapse of the entire country.

    There’s a difference between ‘The Stimulus sucks, it needs to be bigger!’ and ‘The Stimulus sucks, it’ll kill is alllll!!’

  17. 17

    The problem is it took Bush roughly one year to cause the damage

    Oh, no. Bush Baby was rigging this collapse from day one of his presidency, and you could well argue this was thirty years in the making. Deregulate, deregulate, deregulate, until one day there are so few rules some bankers blow up the world economy.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    blah, blah blah… what would the chart look like if we just rid ourselves of all that pesky regulation.

  19. 19

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:
    Except they were trashing it as worthless because it wasn’t big enough. The message is the same, ‘the stimulus failed’.

  20. 20
    Culture of Truth says:

    Look, this is very simple. Senator Obama caused the recession in 2007 and George W. Bush engineered the recovery of 2012.

    Here’s proof:

    Employers hired more than 700,000 workers in the first three months of 2012, the best quarter for job growth since 2006.

    Payrolls grew by 227,000 in February, capping the best six-month streak of job growth since 2006.

  21. 21
    bogdan says:

    Just one problem. 40% of the country is insane and voted for Palin/McCain. The other 10-15% can be scared/duped onto voting either way.

    So basically America is doomed to being an idiocracy no matter how you look at it.

  22. 22
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Would be even better if the voters gave them credit this November, yes?

    That ain’t happening.

  23. 23
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    This has been another edition of “It’s All So Unfair For The Most Powerful Man On The Planet.”

  24. 24
    Meander says:

    Would have been nice if he and the Democrats in Congress who passed the stimulus had gotten a little credit then from the voters.

    Would have been nice if the Democrats had run on their accomplishments in 2010 instead of cowering from the teabagger onslaught.

  25. 25
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: It would be nice if that were reported. Kind of like when polls lump those who don’t like the ACA with those who don’t think it goes far enough.

  26. 26
    Culture of Truth says:

    In March vehicles sales saw the strongest quarter in four years…

    Last week consumer confidence climbed to the highest level in four years…

  27. 27
    AA+ Bonds says:

    when jobless claims fall below the 400,000 threshold, it’s considered evidence of an improving jobs landscape, and when the number drops below 370,000, it suggests jobs are actually being created rather quickly.

    Last I checked not even the Fed made this claim about these numbers as they are severely outpacing other growth

  28. 28
    RP says:

    and, yes I know, those ol meanies in the GOP would not let that happen.

    I think you mean “those ol conservative Democrat meanies in Congress.”

    There’s a difference between ‘The Stimulus sucks, it needs to be bigger!’ and ‘The Stimulus sucks, it’ll kill is alllll!!’

    No, there isn’t. It amazes me that many of the same people on the left who hammer Obama for not selling his agenda more effectively using simple, repetitive language don’t get that saying “the stimulus sucks” over and over again is going to undermine the sales pitch, regardless of the motivation.

  29. 29
    Amir Khalid says:

    @MBunge:
    I’ve never followed Atrios that much. But I do read Paul Krugman, and I’m dead certain he did not go around saying “The stimulus sucks!” In fact his complaint about the stimulus, then and now, was that it was only about half the size it should be.

  30. 30
    SenyorDave says:

    Anyone who understands data can be convinced that overall, Obama and his people have done a reasonable good job moving the economy towards the right path. The problem is that many people don’t understand data and are susceptible to Karl Rove-type misinformation and lies. The challenge will be to create talking points that show people that things are steadily moving in the right direction.

    The best argument is probably re-elect me or you’ll get another Bush.

  31. 31
    Tom Q says:

    @RP: Well, these are the same people who, with under seven months to go to the election, think their time is best spent pointing out Pres. Obama’s faults and shortcomings rather than highlighting his achievements. Republicans in ’84 had a not-dissimilar playing field (unemployment was only slightly lower; they had no foreign policy success on a par with nailing bin Laden), and they were all shouting Morning in America. Our progressive betters still want to talk about their disappointment half the time. Would you hire any of these folk to run your campaign?

  32. 32
    Satanicpanic says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: But people feel like things are getting better. All the more reason to throw an anchor to these fools saying the stimulus sucked it made things worse and my grandkids are gonna pay for it

  33. 33
    gene108 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Message discipline isn’t a strong suit for liberals; deal with it.

  34. 34
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    No, the message in the former case is “the stimulus wasn’t big enough, so we need more stimulus” and the message in the second case is “the stimulus failed, so we should never have had stimulus at all and we don’t need any more”.

    It’s the difference between saying “so far the firehoses haven’t put out the fire, let’s pump in even more water” and “so far the firehoses haven’t put out the fire, this proves we should never have used water against fire at all.”

  35. 35
    Steeplejack says:

    @MBunge:

    [. . .] liberal wankers like Atrios and Paul Krugman decided that screaming “The stimulus sucks!” was a great idea.

    That’s bullshit, at least concerning Krugman. He has consistently said that the stimulus worked but was woefully small.

  36. 36
    daveNYC says:

    For some people, Krugman seems to be able to generate the same level of mouth froth as GG. I just don’t get it.

  37. 37
    RalfW says:

    @Tom Q:

    Our progressive betters still want to talk about their disappointment half the time.

    Half the time? You are generous. I’ll be called an Obot, but this president has done very, very well in a significant number of areas, including managing to keep the entire ship from running aground while drunk Republican sailors sing about rum, sodomy and the lash.

    But too damn many progressives seem to think Obama sucks. I don’t believe all the ‘we live in a center-right nation’ crap, but we have been in a time when the Overton window has been very far right, so in that context, we’ve gotten just about as progressive a leader as is currently possible.

    I am thankful for that. Do I want more? Sure. Will I help organize for more? Sure. Will I complain and bellyache and whine and undermine the progress we have made? No. Fvck no.

  38. 38
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    OT, but nicely ironic:

    The Center For Health Transformation, a think tank founded by Newt Gingrich to generate legislative proposals for health care reform, is filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy … it appears as if struggles with debt were its biggest problem.

    Just like many Americans when they deal with our health care system. I wonder if Newt has learned anything from this experience?

    .

  39. 39
    VincentN says:

    The average voter doesn’t care about the nuances some of you are trying to point out. They just hear that the stimulus sucks. You can’t sell them on the idea that a bigger stimulus would have been better because they think the idea of a stimulus is bad in the first place. You have to tout the benefits of having a stimulus first before trying to argue that a certain kind is better.

  40. 40
    Shrillhouse says:

    Atrios and Krugman most certainly NEVER said “the stilumus sucks.” They both argued, and continue to argue that the stimulus bill was too small to do the job properly. They are absolutley right on both the policy and the politics with regards to the American Recovery and Re-investment Act.

    The size of the stimulus was too small (which meant it wouldn’t do enough to get the economy back on track), and going with a smaller amount just gave ammunition to those who can now say “Hey, you spent 700B and growth is still weak. We told you it wouldn’t work!!!” Here we are, three years along and we’ve avoided another Great Depression (which is obviously a good thing), but the economy is still weak, and there is simply no way a GOP-controlled House (and Senate, soon) will pass more stimulus.

  41. 41

    @Rafer Janders:
    But the message is, on both sides, ‘the stimulus failed’. They are both reinforcing each other, even though they got there from opposite directions. Krugman, for example, was predicting for ages that we’d go right back into a ‘double-dip’ recession. I don’t at all consider him the worst candidate for his rhetoric here, but the idiots who bash Obama because ‘the stimulus failed’ because it wasn’t big enough… quote Krugman. The general point remains, a major reason the stimulus is not more popular is that regular liberals are being told by whiny liberals that it failed.

    EDIT – See @Shrillhouse: right above me for a perfect demonstration. Forget the graph showing it worked, the stimulus should have been bigger, ergo it was a failure.

  42. 42

    @Shrillhouse:

    I do agree that the Obama team averted a Great Depression in those first few months, even though the stimulus wasn’t big enough.
    __
    It’s a shame they’ll never get credit for that, either.

  43. 43
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Shrillhouse:

    there is simply no way a GOP-controlled Senate will pass more stimulus.

    Wasn’t that true in 2009?

    They got the policy right, but not the politics.

  44. 44
    RalfW says:

    @Satanicpanic:

    But people feel like things are getting better.

    Yep. I’ll follow my brief rant with a more upbeat bit. The economy is getting better. Plenty of people aren’t out of the woods yet, but the energy of the nation is shifting.

    Willard is going to have a very tough time convincing people that things are worse now that they were four years ago. People have poor memories, but the panic and dislocation of four years ago is quite different from the slow but steady improvement happening now.

    I was seriously worried last week when it was looking like Congress* might fail to authorize the next few month’s transportation construction spending. I started to think the GOP was really going to force the layoffs of 100s of thousands of workers.

    But I think the past year of groundwork that got laid about the GOP being willing to tank the economy for political gain was – just barely – effective enough to scare them from making such an obvious dent in growth. Heavy lobbying by private contractors wanting to profit from roadbuilding prob. didn’t hurt either.

    Anyway, the DOW is up around historic levels. Unemployment claims are still uncomfortable but the trendline is long and in the right direction. Confidence and cautious optimism are possible.

    Don’t panic. It may turn out ok. If we work for it.

    .
    * EDIT: My bad. The GOP assclowns in Congress.

  45. 45
    liberal says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:
    Bullshit. “Failed” would mean “did nothing to improve the economy”. Clearly what Atrios and Krugman claimed was that the benefit would scale with the size of the stimulus, that the proposed stimulus wasn’t sufficient to make a dramatic recovery possible, that (in the case of Krugman, at least) there would only be one chance, and that the strategy of deliberately not making a high opening bid in the negotiations was unwise (no obvious benefit, and clear obvious costs in terms of subsequent posturing).

  46. 46
    Culture of Truth says:

    It’s very easy to say on both politics and policy we should have had a 2 trillion dollar stimulus. Maybe it should have been 4 trillion.

    But if even now you are saying some argued it was too small and now three years they are proved right because the economy is weak, I would submit that you are the one giving ammunition, to the extent that that matters, to those who would say the stimulus failed. And it did not fail. It worked.

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    YOU KIN KEEP ALL YER DAM ‘FACKS’ YOU BUNCHA LIBRULS WHERE’S YER AL GORE JESUS NOW?

  48. 48
    Tom Q says:

    @RalfW: Again, it should be instructive to compare to 1984. Then, too, the economy was recovering from a deep recession (unemployment had soared to just about the same point as we did in 2009), but was clearly improving as the election approached. People “felt” things were better then, despite an unemployment rate around 7.5%, because they could see the direction things were going.

    It’s pretty obvious the same thing’s happening now. The president’s numbers have been improving significantly, both job approval and head-to-head electoral matchups. It’s not just the GOP primary; it’s the facts on the ground.

  49. 49

    @liberal:
    Yes, his utterly unsupported and wildly negative political speculations did make his total message that much more destructive, undermining his basically sound (if wrong in this case) economics.

  50. 50
    japa21 says:

    @Meander:

    Would have been nice if the Democrats had run on their accomplishments in 2010 instead of cowering from the teabagger onslaught

    .

    This times 10,000.

  51. 51
  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @liberal:

    Clearly what Atrios and Krugman claimed was that the benefit would scale with the size of the stimulus, that the proposed stimulus wasn’t sufficient to make a dramatic recovery possible, that (in the case of Krugman, at least) there would only be one chance, and that the strategy of deliberately not making a high opening bid in the negotiations was unwise (no obvious benefit, and clear obvious costs in terms of subsequent posturing).

    And 90 percent of people will read that and think, “So I guess the Republicans were right all along, the stimulus didn’t work.”

    When you say the stimulus failed because it was too small and we need additional stimulus, people don’t hear the “too small” part. They hear the “failed” part and wonder why you want to throw good money after bad if it didn’t work the first time around.

  53. 53
    Wee Bey says:

    Love Krugman on economics. When he starts talking political strategy, he’s impossibly out of his depth. It happens to the best of them.

    Krugman was right about the stimulus being too small for the size of the recession, and that’s to his credit.

    He just ends up sounding foolish when he tries to critique the process that led to the eventual number.

  54. 54
    Jess says:

    @RalfW: THIS. Thank you, Ralf–well said!

  55. 55

    @liberal:

    . . . the proposed stimulus wasn’t sufficient to make a dramatic recovery possible . . .

    And that right there is the only part of your comment that most people hear. Everything else you say is perfectly correct, but totally irrelevant to the optics.

    The way to put it that would have helped is to say, “This stimulus will work and we need more to work better,” not, “This stimulus won’t work and we need more for it to do the job.” Krugman, Atrios and others went for option number two and thus torpedoed their own message.

  56. 56
    japa21 says:

    The complaints from the left about the stimulus being to small echoed the complaints from the left about ACA not being good enough. What the general populace heard was the dissatisfaction.

    Polls were announced in both situations regarding the unfavorability of both. When the results of those polls were made public, however, the MSM didn’t say why people were unhappy or against either one of those.

    Turns out probably 1/3 of those who were unhappy were unhappy that neither did enough. People just heard 50-60% were against either the stimulus or the ACA. Krugman said too small (which it was) and that may have been what people heard. More likely they heard “it wouldn’t work” ignoring either “fast enough” or “because it is too small.”

  57. 57
    barath says:

    This chart would be better upside down. (I.e. with the y-axis inverted.)

  58. 58
    scott says:

    Pesky voters! If only they were good enough…….

  59. 59
    catclub says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor: “I do agree that the Obama team averted a Great Depression in those first few months, even though the stimulus wasn’t big enough.”

    I am not so sure. There have been so many things that have been added to the safety net that were not there in the 1930’s, that I am not sure a great depression of that scale is possible.

    Yglesias noted that in the 1930’s people were so bad off, they just moved — to avoid starvation. We are nowhere near that level of need. I do not think we would have gotten to that level, even if there had been no stimulus.

    We really are a dramatically richer nation than back then.

    All this does not mean I wanted less stimulus. I wanted more, and knew that the more there was, the faster it would pay for itself. The best deficit reduction plan is more employed citizens.

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, I’m always a little amazed how few people remember “tax and spend Democrats.” You know, the Democrats that Reagan invented who wanted to take your tax money and throw it at programs that don’t work.

    Can anyone make the connection as to why it might be bad policy for “tax and spend Democrats” to say, “Our program didn’t work, so you should give us more money for it”?

  61. 61
    catclub says:

    @japa21: I think there has been enough pushback on the one-sided opposition story that the media — at least the media that I hear, _do_ report that some people think they did not go far enough for both of these. Not blasting that message out, but it is there.

  62. 62
    Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E) says:

    @MBunge:

    Just out of curiousity–what the hell are you talking about? Krugman’s complaints about the stimulus were purely along the lines of “This is too small, with too many ineffective tax cuts. It will help, but slowly and not dramatically, and the slow improvement will be labelled ‘failure’ and used as a bludgeon to ensure that stimulus is never used again.”

    Which is pretty much exactly what happened. It seems as though your interpretaion is that Krugman was against any stimulus at all.

    And I don’t really read Atrios that often, so I can’t comment on his positions.

  63. 63
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    It would be nice if the media would ask Romney in what way Obama made the recession worse.

  64. 64
    Satanicpanic says:

    Let’s just agree to Emmanuel Goldstein Atrios and Krugman and move on to more pressing topics.

  65. 65
    Johnk says:

    As I recall, GWB wasted at least a year ignoring the problem that steadily grew worse. So voters should also recognize how much the GOP contributed getting the recession off to a really good rolling start.

  66. 66
    Schlemizel says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:
    Please see my earlier comment about Dancin’ Dave. To question Mr. Rmoney would be impolite and our dear friends in DC would never wish to be seen as impolite.

  67. 67
    gbear says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    It would be nice if the media would ask Romney in what way Obama made the recession worse.

    The one time a reporter asked Romney why he kept saying that Obama made the economy worse, Romney denied that he’d ever said that Obama made the economy worse. It hardly pays to ask the question because Romney just automatically lies about everything.

  68. 68
    Bruce S says:

    Only thing I would argue with is “it took Bush roughly one year to cause the damage” – this collapse was caused by a festering set of problems that grew worse under Bush but were largely triggered under Clinton. Bush can be blamed, but not in the same way he could be blamed, for example, in the run-up to the Iraq war where there was a fairly discrete set of administration players, decision-makers and deliberate actions that willfully created a huge calamity in “real time.” This one’s roots were bipartisan in a major way, played out over at least a decade and became systemic.

  69. 69
    MBunge says:

    @Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E): “Just out of curiousity—what the hell are you talking about?”

    It’s always a good idea to read to the end of a thread before commenting. Others have pointed out that trashing the stimulus for being too small was and is problematic in many ways, especially when you continue to do so for months and years after the fact.

    As somebody else touched on, saying “The stimulus is working but we need even more of it” is a completely different message than “the stimulus isn’t working, so we we need more of it”.

    Mike

  70. 70
    MCA1 says:

    I really wish we had reached the point where multimedia was an acceptable form of presentation for the POTUS, instead of standing at a lectern with a teleprompter, using words and words alone. The happenings of the largest and most diverse economy in the history of humankind might be better understood by the citizens affected by its workings if they could see some graphs like this. My greatest political fantasy is that Obama will get up in front of a national audience sometime and, Jon Stewart style, show some clips and quotes from his detractors and then fillet them with some killer spreadsheets and graphs. He’s out there rhetorically destroying the Ryan plan, but think how much more coverage and power he’d give that message if he threw in some graphics giving visible depiction of income inequality and such, and people just started e-mailing it around. So, as a humble suggestion, I’d like to see the President hand out this chart and have it displayed on a screen behind him at every press conference from now until the point at which it becomes accepted conventional wisdom that the stimulus worked. Then move on to something else and hammer it home.

  71. 71

    @catclub:

    No arguments here, I agree that the existing social safety net would have reduced the “Grapes of Wrath factor” had another Depression happened. I was just using the word “Depression” in its economic sense, where a demand recession leads to a deflation spiral. Fortunately (and so far) we’ve avoided that.
    __
    The stimulus increased demand just enough to keep us out of deflation. Instead we got what K-Thug dubbed the Great Recession.

  72. 72
    Bruce S says:

    Good lord – I can’t believe there are folks who blame Krugman and Atrios for the negative perceptions of the stimulus. I guess it’s also the fault of people who pointed out that “single payer” would be better policy than the ACA – which is an elementary and empirically-derived observation of comparative health care systems – who are at fault for “Obamacare” being held in lower esteem than it deserves, despite it’s obvious flaws. Because, you know, the Tea Party really needed that ammunition!

    The “left” has all sorts of cannibals and self-defeating wankers — this sort here at Balloon Juice are among the worst, largely because in their attempt to distort legitimate debate into some sort of circular firing squad they create…a circular firing squad. “Shut up Krugman! The GOP hatemongers are listening!” Yeah. Right. Krugman is a big problem for us. Consistently strengthens the Right-wing with his New York Times columns. The bastard! Also that Atrios guy whose daily posts read like Twitter messages. He’s hugely influential on the nation’s public discourse and has undermined the administration. Totally obvious. While we’re at it, Bill Maher should watch what he says because we can’t have comedians running around engaged in cynical humor, even when it falls flat. Someone might take him seriously. That weakens the Democratic Party! And Ed Schultz and the rest at MSNBC need to STFU if Obama makes dumbass deficit noises that are obviously rooted in playing from his pulpit to a dumbed-down TeaPartyized political discourse. We should treat the President like the leader of our movement (such as it is, and I’m honestly not sure whether the folks at issue give one little shit about social movements), rather than the head of state immersed in managing a corrupted structure, Beltway politics and electoral strategy. For that matter, Larry Summers shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag that he wanted the ask to be for a bigger stimulus. Makes the one we got look bad!

    Let’s make ourselves as aggressively stupid as the GOP and not evaluate policy on the evidence or criticize our Party betters and sitting politicians! That’s a great plan moving forward. Better yet, let’s leave all of the noise-making to Tea Party types, who have zero qualms about eating their own yet have had enormous success in framing the discourse. That is – until the Occupy crowd decided they were the ones they’d been waiting for and managed through ragged and semi-choherent direct action to put income inequality and the “1%” into…uh presidential speeches among other things!

    Folks like these critics of Atrios and Krugman would have made great commissars in the CPUSA.

  73. 73
    wrb says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    It would be nice if the media would ask Romney in what way Obama made the recession worse.

    And then confront him with this chart, and press him to explain the radical change in direction.

    That, I would like to see.

  74. 74
    wrb says:

    @MCA1:

    MCA1 Says:

    I really wish we had reached the point where multimedia was an acceptable form of presentation for the POTUS, instead of standing at a lectern with a teleprompter, using words and words alone. The happenings of the largest and most diverse economy in the history of humankind might be better understood by the citizens affected by its workings if they could see some graphs like this.

    Why the president doesn’t do this mystifies me. He needs to do some teach-ins.

    Perot did it and it turned into a contender for awhile.

  75. 75
    Bruce S says:

    Krugman never said “the stimulus isn’t working!” He said that we needed more because the recovery has, in fact, been slow and there is a rocky road still ahead. Not sure it matters to some, but we’re in for years of weak job creation which is causing real pain and in itself part of a vicious cycle of stagnant recovery for the “real economy” of folks on the ground who aren’t doing anywhere close to as well as the stock market.

    This line is a straw man. Not really worth engaging, because it’s based on resentments rather than analytic rigor IMHO. It’s also shitty politics because it enforces a “Yes He Can!” mentality that weakens the administration’s ability to get the “best possible” as it saps any political dynamics to the left of the White House agenda and narrows the range of possibilities. If you don’t understand that, read up on MLK and LBJ.

  76. 76
    jl says:

    @Bruce S: I agree.

    The job and sales numbers are reflections of the economic reality of folks on the ground. Politicians and pundits cannot change the economic reality that ordinary people face; but they can discredit themselves by twisting evidence to push politically or ideologically advantageous stories.

    People like Krugman, Stiglitz and De Long made good faith best effort calls on the economy in real time and made real honest forecasts of consequences of economic policy, and they have been more right than either conservatives or the ideologically driven among the Obots.

    However, the job numbers are good news, and if they keep up, will be one of the most critical factors in deciding the election. If the GOP continues to tie itself in nonsensical dishonest and cynical knots pushing BS on the economy, that will help the Democrats even more.

    So, let us hope for more reports like this, both for the people who need jobs, and to help sane and at least relatively more honest people win in November.

  77. 77
    MBunge says:

    @Bruce S: “Let’s make ourselves as aggressively stupid as the GOP”

    Here’s a good example of aggressive stupidity. Saying we need federal stimulus to help the economy, then shitting all over the only stimulus that ever had a chance of getting passed by Congress, continuing to whine about how the stimulus wasn’t big enough and wasn’t doing enough for years afterward…then crying “Don’t blame me” when the general public has a negative attitude toward the stimulus.

    Has Krugman’s and Atrios’ “the stimulus was too small” bitching had ANY positive affect? Did it do ANYTHING to make more and bigger stimulus possible? Did it make the public AT ALL more supportive of stimulus spending? Or was it about nothing more than those two massaging their own egos for being the smartest guys in the room?

    Mike

    Mike

  78. 78
    Tonal Crow says:

    Obama saved our economy. Pass it on.

  79. 79
    Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E) says:

    @MBunge:

    Hey, I’m digging the condescension, it’s pretty sweet. On that note, I’d just say that your comment was so asinine I would’ve felt compelled to pile on even if the every comment in a 200+ comment thread said pretty much the same thing.

    Which I guess works out for the remainder of my comment, apparently I can let others speak for me. For the record, you are not one of those others, at least in this case.

  80. 80
    Some Loser says:

    How come when it comes to Congress it is always the President’s fault? We only rarely hear people talk about some of our shitty Democrat congressmen/women, and instead act like their failings is Obama’s.

  81. 81
    Some Loser says:

    @Ordovician Bighorn Dolomite (formerly rarely seen poster Fe E):

    What was asinine about his post? Is he wrong?

    I like Krugman. I think he is important for our current economical worries. However, I do think he could’ve messaged his concerns better while talking about the stimulus package. People’s perception of the stimulus package was seriously affected by his words. Don’t believe me or MBunge? Explore the Balloon-Juice 2009 Archive. People were literally calling Obama a traitor over the Stimulus package.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bruce S:

    If you ever, even once, criticize “messaging” or “optics” from the Democrats and the Obama administration, I am saving this post of yours to point out to you that you have NO FUCKING IDEA what either of those concepts mean.

    Why you think it’s a good idea for people on the left to say, “The stimulus failed, so we need more” rather than “The stimulus succeeded, so we need more,” I have no idea.

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, if anyone simultaneously discusses George Lakoff’s theories and declares the stimulus a failure that we need more of, I will punch them in the throat. Jesus fuck, people, this is Messaging 101. Agreeing with your enemies that something was a failure is not the way to get people to agree with you.

  84. 84
    jl says:

    @MBunge: By giving their best forecast (note: forecast, a prediction of FUTURE events) of the effect of different levels of stimulus, the Krugmans et al, provided evidence that their model of the economy was more correct than others.

    Krugman, De Long, et al, and notably Romer (the economist in the administration tasked with the seemingly small detail of doing the actual number crunching analysis) provided, and Atrios transmitted that evidence to the public as the stimulus policy was being formulated and legislated.

    It is not their fault that the Obama administration was too timid, was following flawed politically and bureaucratically motivated advice by Summers, and weak Democrat Congressional caucus ignored their best scientifically based advice.

    Even if it, through no fault of their own, their FORECASTS (prediction of FUTURE events conditional on different levels of stimulus) did not affect the stimulus policy, it will provide very good evidence and argument for better policies in the future. Rather than endless posturing and Monday morning quarterbacking by different political factions.

    But you call that ‘bitching’? OK, fine, be a caveman with a lightbulb, fancying that you know how the dang thing works. Whatever. Go ahead and pretend everything in the world works through political posturing and tactics, see how it works out for you. The Obama administration flirted with political death by doing so, and I see you like that approach just fine.

  85. 85
    Some Loser says:

    @jl:

    It is not their fault that the Obama administration was too timid, was following flawed politically and bureaucratically motivated advice by Summers, and weak Democrat Congressional caucus ignored their best scientifically based advice.

    Obama wanted a bigger stimulus package! DEMOCRATS CUT IT! Your congressmen/women cut the damn stimulus down, not Obama.

    “Too timid”? How in the hell was he timid? Explain this to me because I am just an ignorant fuck. People keep saying this, but I don’t quite understand?

  86. 86
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jl:

    I don’t think any of us here are complaining about what Krugman and Atrios said at the time the stimulus was being debated. Speaking only for myself, I actually think Krugman has done a pretty good job of pointing out that, weak as it was, the stimulus was a success. His argument for more stimulus is that we should build on the success of the first stimulus package, not that the first one failed.

    What’s maddening to me is when people quote Krugman from three years ago to claim that he thinks today that the stimulus we got didn’t help, and that is, frankly, an out and out lie. Most stimulus critics from the left admit that it did not fail and did help get us to the tentative recovery we’re in right now.

    So continuing to bray about how the stimulus “failed” because it was too small is echoing right-wing talking points and nothing more.

  87. 87
    jl says:

    @Some Loser: Too timid, because the evidence at the time showed that the actual stimulus proposed by the administration was too small to match the claims the administration made about how it would affect future unemployment rates.

    @Mnemosyne: I guess we disagree that Krugman keeps saying that the stimulus ‘failed’, I see him saying that it was too small to do what the administration claimed it would do, and saying that he said so before the fact, and saying ‘I told you so’.

    I don’t read Atrios often enough to know what he has been saying. If Duncan Black has been saying the stimulus ‘failed’ he is misrepresenting the situation and should knock it off. Black is a well trained economist and should know enough not to issue simplistic slogans.

  88. 88
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jl:

    I guess we disagree that Krugman keeps saying that the stimulus ‘failed’, I see him saying that it was too small to do what the administration claimed it would do, and saying that he said so before the fact, and saying ‘I told you so’.

    Um, if, as you say, Krugman is saying that the stimulus was too small to do what the administration wanted, then he is saying that it “failed.” There’s no other way to interpret that, and I withdraw everything nice I said about Krugman saying the opposite.

    As I pointed out before, if you have conservatives saying, “THE STIMULUS FAILED!” and liberals saying, “THE STIMULUS FAILED with caveats X, Y and Z,” the only thing people hear is, “THE STIMULUS FAILED!” That’s why it’s stupid for liberals to be running around 3 years after the stimulus screaming about how “THE STIMULUS FAILED because of X, Y and Z.” We should be running around screaming that “THE STIMULUS WORKED and so we need more.”

    People don’t like to pour more money into failure, and telling people we need more stimulus money because the first one failed is stupid, stupid, stupid strategy. It’s the kind of brilliant “stratergy” I’ve come to expect from the firebagger brigade, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid.

  89. 89
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The difference between “the stimulus should have been larger” and “stimulus is bad” is the difference between passing another stimulus spending package when necessary and not passing one even when it is necessary

    Don’t be fucking stupid

  90. 90
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The only problem I see here is liberals being completely unable to tolerate part of their base whose only recourse when they feel unheard is to withdraw

    Then I suppose you will bitch and moan when they do so even though you could have prevented it by shutting your trap when the Democrats are criticized from the left

    So Many Feelings, Not Enough Resilience

  91. 91
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Most of these arguments are started by Koch-funded plants in the first place

  92. 92
    Bruce S says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You’re engaging in willful distortions. Save anything you like. Just quit lying and acting utterly childish.

  93. 93
    Bruce S says:

    “it’s stupid for liberals to be running around 3 years after the stimulus screaming about how “THE STIMULUS FAILED because of X, Y and Z.” We should be running around screaming that ‘THE STIMULUS WORKED and so we need more.'”

    Not sure who these stupid liberals are who are supposedly saying that it “failed” rather than it was too weak to do what really needed to be done. Is it a betrayal of President Obama to say “The stimulus helped and we need more.” I don’t get how it’s Paul Krugman’s job to be an administration flack or measure every word he writes in a goddam newspaper column to suit the Commissars who populate certain Balloon Juice threads. Folks who think like that truly have gone off the deep end and dwell in some weird little echo chamber. As I’ve said before, trying to enforce this level of “message” discipline is as much shitty politics as it is brain-dead, fainting couch analysis best suited to paid party hacks (a class of folks who have, of course, served us brilliantly!)

  94. 94
    Bruce S says:

    “it’s stupid for liberals to be running around 3 years after the stimulus screaming about how “THE STIMULUS FAILED because of X, Y and Z.” We should be running around screaming that ‘THE STIMULUS WORKED and so we need more.'”

    Not sure who these stupid liberals are who are supposedly saying that it “failed” rather than it was too weak to do what really needed to be done. Is it a betrayal of President Obama to say “The stimulus helped and we need more.” I don’t get how it’s Paul Krugman’s job to be an administration flack or measure every word he writes in a goddam newspaper column to suit the Commissars who populate certain Balloon Juice threads. Folks who think like that truly have gone off the deep end and dwell in some weird little echo chamber. As I’ve said before, trying to enforce this level of “message” discipline is as much shitty politics as it is brain-dead, fainting couch analysis best suited to paid party hacks (a class of folks who have, of course, served us brilliantly!)

  95. 95
    John 2.0 says:

    Probably too late for anyone to actually read, nearly being 100 comments in, but here’s a series of reports for North Carolina (one for each of the 100 counties of the state) about the concrete impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:

    https://www.ncrecovery.gov/data/countyReportsMap.html

    In terms of avoiding another great depression, in North Carolina alone, something like 15,000 small business jobs from more than 100 small businesses were saved due to credit guarantees from SBA and USDA during the first 9 months of 2009. That’s just North Carolina. Imagine what that chart would look like if those Federal institutions were there to give credit to businesses who were locked out by banks in 2009-2010.

    I don’t know why there’s not more campaigning on the ARRA. There are schools in Western NC that were build with the Recovery Funded Q-Bonds that replaced schools build by the WPA in the 30’s. These are places where those new schools are the ONLY PLACE IN THE COUNTY that have internet connectivity. You could do a 30-second commercial a day with a new story from today until the election on just the local high-impact projects the ARRA created.

  96. 96
    Bruce S says:

    Memosyne – I conflated your response with stuff Mbunge said earlier. Sorry for that. But, frankly I don’t get your response. You seem to be having it every which way.

    Whatever floats your boat.

    This discussion was predicated on some utterly rank bullshit re Krugman. Sorry to have upset the little ladies.

  97. 97
    Bruce S says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think the salient point here is that “messaging” and “optics” from an op-ed columnist who also happens to be a professional economist is a bit different issue than “optics” and “messaging” from the f…ing White House.

    My main point, of course, was that Krugman’s “messaging” was being willfully distorted in certain of these comments. Then you proceed to totally distort what I wrote – the the point that I’m wondering whether you can read.

    Really a pretty absurd comparison on your part. But “remind” me of what an idiot I am whenever it gets you off. I’ll remember not to pay much attention.

  98. 98
    Bruce S says:

    @MBunge:

    “continuing to whine”

    A bit of projection perhaps?

  99. 99
    MBunge says:

    @Bruce S: “I don’t get how it’s Paul Krugman’s job to be an administration flack or measure every word he writes in a goddam newspaper column to suit the Commissars who populate certain Balloon Juice threads.”

    The butthurt is strong in you.

    I hardly think there’s anything excessive about asking Krugman OR ANY PUNDIT to think before they shoot their big, fat mouths off. No one is objecting to Krugman arguing, correctly, that the stimulus needed to be bigger. The complaint is that after the stimulus was passed and after it was clear no more stimulus was in the offing, Krugman kept whining about the stimulus being too small and he kept doing it for months and even years when such whining wasn’t doing anything but making Krugman feel good for being the smartest guy in the room.

    Well, Krugman should be smart enough to know there’s a big difference between arguing “the stimulus is working, but we need more of it” and “the stimulus is failing, so we need more of it”.

    Mike

  100. 100
    MBunge says:

    @Bruce S: “A bit of projection perhaps?”

    Dude, somebody suck-up trolling for Paul Krugman on someone else’s blog should worry about their own psychological issues.

    Mike

  101. 101
    Some Loser says:

    @jl:

    You’ve probably stopped reading this thread, but that never stopped me before!

    Too timid, because the evidence at the time showed that the actual stimulus proposed by the administration was too small to match the claims the administration made about how it would affect future unemployment rates.

    I don’t really understand your reasoning. How does that translate into timidity? You claim that he was being dishonest and was overselling the idea, but how does that make him timid? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? He was being the exact opposite of timid? Lets ignore the fighting he had to do to get the too small stimulus passed. How is anything he done during the whole stimulus debate timid?

  102. 102
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bruce S:

    Not sure who these stupid liberals are who are supposedly saying that it “failed” rather than it was too weak to do what really needed to be done.

    But isn’t saying “it was too weak to do what really needed to be done” an admission that it failed? If you say that a football team was “too weak to do what really needed to be done,” do you automatically assume that the team won the game?

    Is it a betrayal of President Obama to say “The stimulus helped and we need more.”

    No, it’s not a betrayal to say that, but that’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying that it was too weak and it failed. When, in the history of the English language, has anyone said, “This program was too weak and it was a success”? It’s a logical impossibility.

    I was pretty sure that Krugman was saying that the stimulus worked, but you and jl have managed to convince me that he’s been saying the opposite because you’re defending him by saying that he still thinks it was too weak to do what needed to be done, which is an admission of failure.

    Do you guys even read what you write and realize how people interpret phrases like “too weak to do what really needed to be done”? Did you think that people would read that and think, “Well, it certainly sounds like the stimulus was successful!”

  103. 103
    Bruce S says:

    @MBunge:

    You’re winning at shadowboxing!

    I’m impressed.

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MBunge:

    Well, Krugman should be smart enough to know there’s a big difference between arguing “the stimulus is working, but we need more of it” and “the stimulus is failing, so we need more of it”.

    This. Why people on the left think that the winning argument is that the stimulus failed, so therefore we should spend more, is beyond me. Who in their right mind wants to spend more money on a failed program?

  105. 105
    Bruce S says:

    MBunge. This crap is pathetic. Really.

  106. 106
    Some Loser says:

    Bruce S, please stop reflexly defending Krugman. Your position doesn’t even make sense. People here who are criticizing don’t even hate him; we just think he was shitty at messaging his message. Anyway, as Mnemosyne said, you’re actually casting his past arguments in a worse light.

  107. 107
    Donut says:

    These new numbers are certainly good news for John McCain.

  108. 108
    jl says:

    @Some Loser: There are two points here, actually, and I may be to blame for conflating them.

    The stimulus was too ‘timid’ if you believe that potential GDP has not shifted downward since 2008, since a larger stimulus would bring us back to potential, and full employment quicker. If you think GDP has shifted down, then more stimulus would bring a combination of unsustainable growth (the economic ‘sugar high’ that Geithner and Orszag worried about). And as many economists pointed out at the beginning of the recession, we knew going in that it would almost certainly be bigger than any postwar recession, and initial estimates of downturns are often underestimates of the severity. So precautions should have been taken against likelihood that the recession was deeper than initially thought. And this was exactly the case, we seriously underestimated the severity of the initial downturn. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times very forcefully and clearly explained this danger as the stimulus was being formulated.

    But you are correct, ‘timid’ is wrong word for mismatch between best estimate Romer made, and what administration over optimistically promised. I don’t think ‘dishonest’ is a good word, though. I think the administration bought Summers very hopeful idea that the economy would bounce back like a pre-2000 post WWII recessions (even though many aspects of the recession were much more like the 2000 recession than previous ones). So, I would go with ‘over optimistic’.

    If any Keynesian economist is going around saying simply that the stimulus ‘failed’, then they should stop doing that. On other hand, I think people who got it right have a right, even a duty, to spell out how and why they were right, and if that does not fit in with Obama administration PR, then that is unfortunate. I think it is more important for economists who produced the best analysis and best forecasts to make their case to lay foundations for better policy next time.

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