The Truth About the Obama Stimulus

Republicans would have you believe that President Obama’s stimulus package failed, even as economic consensus and actual fact prove the oft-repeated statement that “the stimulus didn’t work” is actually false. Nevertheless, Republicans and conservative commentators continue to recycle this myth.

A recent example comes from conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who blasted the stimulus as a failed policy in a column. Krauthammer’s evidence for that failure is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as the stimulus is properly known, didn’t generate a project as big as the Hoover Dam:
“First, the $831 billion stimulus that was going to “reinvest” in America and bring unemployment below 6 percent. We know about the unemployment. And the investment? Obama loves to cite great federal projects such as the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system. Fine. Name one thing of any note created by Obama’s Niagara of borrowed money. A modernized electric grid? Ports dredged to receive the larger ships soon to traverse a widened Panama Canal? Nothing of the sort. Solyndra, anyone?”

Krauthammer is correct in his claim that Obama’s stimulus bill didn’t create a Hoover Dam. In actuality, it created the equivalent of a dozen Hoover Dams.

The maximum output of the Hoover Dam is about 2 gigawatts of electricity. The increase in U.S. wind-power output under the Obama administration so far has been 25 gigawatts — 12 times as much as produced by the dam. Under normal wind conditions, that’s enough to power over 6 million more homes with renewable, environmentally-friendly energy.

That explosion in wind-power didn’t happen by chance: as Michael Grunwald points out in a Time column, it was “the Obama stimulus bill that revived the wind industry and the rest of the clean-tech sector from a near-death experience.”

Under Obama, the United States has doubled its annual wind power output to 50 gigawatts, thanks in large part to the stimulus bill, enabling us to keep pace with China, the world’s wind power leader.

Krauthammer only asked for “one thing of note,” but Grunwald supplies us with more, just on the clean energy tip, which has only been a fraction of the overall stimulus effort: “The stimulus has financed the world’s largest wind farm, a half dozen of the world’s largest solar farms, the nation’s first refineries for advanced biofuels, a new battery industry for electric vehicles, unprecedented investments in cleaner coal and a smarter electric grid, and over 15,000 additional clean-energy projects.”

As far as the right’s repeated insistence that the stimulus didn’t work, that’s false too, as you can see by watching the short video explanation, below:

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The Lie About Obama’s Spending

There are so many lies and so much misinformation being told about President Obama that one would be hard pressed to pick one that is the worst. Oh, there’s all the birther nonsense, the wild-eyed charges of him being a socialist, fascist, or communist, and the allegations that he’s worse than Hitler, Stalin, and whatever other boogeyman comes to mind.

But I guess if I had to pick one that is heard most often and is most easily refutable by using simple facts, it would be the one about his irresponsible spending spree.

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even a great number of Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen, nor does it appear to be in the offing. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since the first term of Dwight Eisenhower in the early 1950s. Even Herbert Hoover, thought to be a master of fiscal austerity, increased spending during his four years in office by a whopping 12.3% per year.

Here are the facts, according to the official government statistics:
• In the 2009 fiscal year, the last budget of George W. Bush’s presidency, federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. Check the official numbers at the Office of Management and Budget.
• In fiscal 2010, the first budget under Obama, spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
• In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
• In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
• Finally in fiscal 2013, the final budget of Obama’s term, spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.

Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4%, which is much lower than the rate of inflation.

There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.

Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget.

What people don’t seem to know is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to put together a budget proposal and steer it through Congress, especially in these days of congressional gridlock.

The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans unfairly count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.

Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Before Obama had even lifted a finger, the CBO was already projecting that the federal deficit would rise to $1.2 trillion in fiscal 2009. The government actually spent less money in 2009 than it was projected to, but the deficit expanded to $1.4 trillion because revenue from taxes fell much further than expected, due to the weak economy and the emergency tax cuts that were part of the stimulus bill.

The projected deficit for the 2010-13 period has grown from an expected $1.7 trillion in January 2009 to $4.4 trillion today. Lower-than-forecast revenue accounts for 73% of the $2.7 trillion increase in the expected deficit. That’s assuming that the Bush and Obama tax cuts are repealed completely.

When Obama took the oath of office, the $789 billion bank bailout had already been approved. Federal spending on unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicare was already surging to meet the dire unemployment crisis that was well under way. See the CBO’s January 2009 budget outlook.
Obama is not responsible for that increase, though he is responsible, along with the Congress, for about $140 billion in extra spending in the 2009 fiscal year from the stimulus bill, from the expansion of the children’s’ health-care program, and from other appropriations bills passed in the spring of 2009.

If we credit that $140 billion in stimulus to Obama and not to Bush, we find that spending under Obama grew by about $200 billion over four years, amounting to a 1.4% annualized increase.

After adjusting for inflation, spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace. That’s the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s, when Richard Nixon was retreating from the quagmire in Vietnam.
In per-capita terms, real spending will drop by nearly 5% from $11,450 per person in 2009 to $10,900 in 2013 (measured in 2009 dollars).

Taxes Lower, Spending and Deficit Down Under Obama

Federal spending is lower now than it was when President Obama took office. I’ll pause to let you absorb the news.

In January 2009, before President Obama had even taken the oath of office, annual spending was set to total 24.9 percent of gross domestic product. Total spending this year, fiscal year 2012, is expected to top out at 23.4 percent of GDP.

Here’s another interesting fact. Taxes today are lower than they were on inauguration day 2009. Back in January 2009, the CBO projected that total federal tax revenue that year would amount to 16.5 percent of GDP. This year? 15.8 percent.

One last nugget. The deficit this year is going to be lower than what it was on the day President Obama took office. Back then, the CBO said the 2009 deficit would be 8.3 percent of GDP. This year’s deficit is expected to come in at 7.6 percent.

The fact is that Obama inherited a disaster of a federal budget. Eight years prior, when President George W. Bush took the oath of office, there was a $281 billion surplus. By the time Obama was sworn in, he was facing a $1.2 trillion deficit. Inconvenient though it may be for conservatives (especially those who are running for president), the truth is that spending, taxes and the deficit are all lower today than when President Obama took office.

Dijongate

O.k., it’s official, the conservative movement in the United States ceased to exist in any relevant way on May 6, 2009. I say this because of what has now come to be known as Dijongate, the latest tirade dejour fomented out of nothing by the right wing media.

The facts of Dijongate cannot be disputed. This faux scandal began a day earlier, May 5, when President Obama and Vice President Biden paid a visit to Ray’s Hell Burger restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. The press corp, of course tagged along, and there was the President, on film, ordering a plain cheddar cheeseburger, medium well. Now what caused the flap was what came after the initial part of his order.He had the audacity to ask for “spicy mustard. Like dijon.”

The next day, the day that the conservative movement finally proved that they had nothing left in their arsenal with which to challenge this popular moderate president, Sean Hannity told his dwindling viewership, “[A]s you all know, President Obama is a real man of the people. And yesterday he dropped by a popular Virginia restaurant to grab a burger with his pal [Vice President] Joe [Biden]. Now, the Gateway Pundit blog pointed out that plain old ketchup, well, it didn’t quite cut it for the president. Now take a look at him ordering his burger with a very special condiment. … Dijon mustard? I think the president watched just a little bit too much television as a kid.” Hannity then played a portion of a Grey Poupon commercial and commented, “I hope you enjoyed that fancy burger, Mr. President.”

During the May 6 edition of her radio show, Laura Ingraham said of Obama: “I don’t even like the way the man orders a hamburger. … What kind of man orders a cheeseburger without ketchup but Dijon mustard?” She later added of Obama: “See, he was trying to do this whole thing with Biden — ‘We’re like the regular people, we’re like every other guy, you know, with our — on our lunch break, we’re going to go grab a burger, two guys, two bros.’ ”

Like Hannity, Ingraham played a clip from a Grey Poupon commercial in which an actor asked, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?” Ingraham then remarked: “That would have been more appropriate.”

Then on the May 7 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, guest host Mark Steyn said of Obama’s condiment selection: “He’s amazing, Obama. This coverage — he’s a regular guy. He eats a hamburger with Dijon mustard — Dijon mustard. John Kerry couldn’t get away with that stuff, but he makes it seem like just like a regular thing to do. Now there’s — I see that some of the left-wing commentators are saying, ‘Why are people making a fuss about the Dijon mustard?’ but that’s just an example of the way Obama is able to enlighten us.”

So I ask, is this what they’re reduced to? Asserting that Obama is a socialist Francophile because he prefers dijon mustard to ketchup on a cheddar cheeseburger? Well if so, as I began this posting, I assert that the conservative movement is hereby dead and these are its last words.

I guess we should count our lucky stars that the President didn’t order his burger with fois gras and truffle oil, which can be ordered from Ray’s menu board. We would have had wingnut skulls exploding all over the land of culinary fascism, otherwise known as conservative talk radio and television. There wouldn’t have much gray matter to clean up, but just the thought of seeing and hearing all of those skull caps fragmenting sends chills down my spine.

Obama wouldn’t even have had to order anything quite so exotic as the above, obviously, since simple dijon mustard did the trick. He could have had his Hell burger with gruyere instead of Vermont cheddar, or maybe Danish blue cheese, Italian Taleggio, mustard seed gouda, or even Epoisses. He could have added grilled red onions, mushrooms fried in burgandy sauce, roasted garlic, or crispy fried shallots. As you can see, what the president ordered is actually a rather pedestrian choice by Ray’s standards. But that fact doesn’t deter the wingnuts.

Maybe there is some hope for conservatism yet, in spite of my earlier declaration of its demise. In response to this flapdoodle from the moronic side of conservatism, former George W. Bush speech writer, and conservative pundit, David Frum posted the following observation:

“What kind of a man eats his hamburger without ketchup? That was the big question yesterday on talk radio, after President Obama visited an Arlington, Virginia, hamburger place on Tuesday and ordered his burger with spicy mustard. 
First answer: Texans.

Texans traditionally eat hamburgers with mustard or with mayonnaise (or with both), but without ketchup. This is simply called a “hamburger” in Texas, but is sometimes called a “Cowboy Burger” or a “Texas Burger” outside of Texas.

A hamburger with ketchup is sometimes called a “Yankee Burger.” A hamburger with mayonnaise is sometimes called a “Sissy Burger.”

Dirty Martin’s (in Austin since 1926) serves hamburgers with mustard, pickles, onions, and tomatoes, but it is not known when this combination began. The popular Texas “Whataburger” hamburger chain has served hamburgers with mustard from its founding (1950). The hamburger-with-mustard combination in Texas is attested at least from the 1950s, but the pre-1950s hamburger condiments cannot be firmly established.

Second answer: Republicans. A 2000 survey of members of Congress found that 73% of Republican lawmakers preferred mustard to ketchup, as opposed to 47% of Democratic lawmakers.

Final answer: traditionalists. Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, the restaurant widely believed to have served the first hamburgers ever made in the United States, absolutely forbids ketchup.”

So in closing, maybe I jumped to conclusions too fast. Maybe the conservative movement isn’t dead yet. Maybe it’s just been co-opted by the morons, lunatics, and wingnuts.

Either way, if I’m ever in the Washington D.C area, I’m going to Arlington and look up Ray’s Hell Burgers. I hate catsup, I love spicy mustards of all kinds, and I’m drooling over the thought of a burger with fried mushrooms, roasted garlic, and French Epoisses cheese. I hope they still have dijon with which to top it off.

Obama, McCain, Palin and Radicalism

What are we to make of Sarah Palin’s attack on Barack Obama and his relationship with Bill Ayers, a former member of the radical ‘60s group, the Weather Underground? On Saturday she raised this issue on the campaign trail, citing a New York Times article published earlier in the day. Of course Palin did not elucidate that the Times concluded that Obama and Ayers do not appear to have been close, and that any relationship between them was peripheral in nature. Several other publications, including the Washington Post, Time magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic, have debunked the idea that Obama and Ayers had a close relationship.

Obama and Ayers, now a university professor in Chicago, have known each other since 1995, when both served on the board of a non-profit group trying to raise funds for a school improvement project. As a result of that connection, the two men did attend meetings at which they were both present. And, Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s Illinois senate campaign in 2001. Plus, they lived in the same Hyde Park neighborhood within three blocks of one another.

As the Chicago Sun-Times of Aug. 30,2008 wrote: “He (Obama) had actually rubbed shoulders — can you believe it? — with a distinguished professor of education who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He had probably even shared a cup of coffee, as only a co-conspirator would, with this professor, whose writings describe good schools as places that are “organized around and powered by a set of core values” and “effectively meet students where they are and find ways to nurture and challenge them to learn.”

The Sun-Times article goes on to identify some of the other people with whom Ayers and Obama served on that charitable board. They include Susan Crown of the General Dynamics Corp. family; Patricia Graham, former dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Arnold Weber, past president of Northwestern University. No one has yet accused them of being radicals because of their association with Bill Ayers.

Palin herself has a connection, much less tenuous, to political radicalism. Back in Alaska she has cheered the work of the Alaska Independence Party that has long pushed for Alaska to secede from the United States. And her husband, Todd, was a member of the party for seven years.

“Keep up the good work,” she told party members at their convention earlier this year in Fairbanks. She wished the party luck on what she called its “inspiring convention.”

So if Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers is fair game in the political arena, then is Todd Palin’s association with anti-American secessionists not also fair game, especially in light of Palin’s charge that Obama “is not a man who sees America as you and I do?” Isn’t the Governor’s own apparent support of, if not membership in, this party also worthy of note? They seem to have been comfortable belonging to and/or being associated with a political party whose founder delighted in denouncing the principles that hold our union together.

On the one hand, there is very little evidence that Ayers’ worldview ever influenced anything Barack Obama did, said or thought. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. But on the other hand, one can easily assume that a husband and wife influence each other’s beliefs quite often, and her address to the group in question, as Governor, may make such an assumption even more credible.

Now let’s talk about McCain and G.Gordon Liddy a bit. Liddy broke Daniel Elsburg’s psychiatrist’s office and the DNC headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. He also volunteered to kill journalist Jack Anderson for political reasons. He had plans to firebomb the Brookings Institute. More recently, he advocated shooting ATF agents in the head. “Head shots. Head shots. Kill the sons of bitches.” (8/26/94).

In 1998, Liddy’s home was the site of a McCain fundraiser, and Liddy himself has contributed several thousand dollars to McCain’s senatorial campaigns. This year Liddy has given $1,000 to McCain’s presidential campaign.

On Liddy’s radio show in November of 2007, McCain said, “I’m proud of you. I’m proud of your family. It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”

So Obama served on a board with an unrepentent terrorist, but then repudiates the guy’s actions.

But McCain fundraises at the home of an unrepentent felon, thief, would-be terrorist, and advocate of murdering federal agents, and then goes on his radio show and verbally regales the guy.

Palin and her husband have activist ties to a group who wants to secede from the very union that she want to represent as vice president, one heart beat away from the presidency itself.

I say to Palin and McCain, “Bring it on. But don’t forget what they say about those who live in glass houses.”