Well, Jason’s at it again. He has sent out a letter in which he criticizes the stimulus package for being both too big and ineffective. He also claims that “The President projected that his stimulus package would prevent the unemployment rate from exceeding 8%.” (emphasis added)
Oh, did he? Actually, no, he didn’t. At least I haven’t been able to find a direct quote from the President or anyone on his staff to that effect. Just third party hearsay from the blogosphere (by the way, blogs are not usually credible sources of information as they are largely used to express opinion that may or may not be based on actual facts). If any readers can find me a direct quote from a credible and verifiable source, I’d really appreciate it. Now, what did the President say?
Well, before the President even took the oath of office his transition team acknowledged that unemployment was expected to exceed 8% in 2009. Chaffetz also refers to the President’s banchmarks, offering only a link to a bitmap image on his own web site--really, Jason? A bitmap? What do you think this is, the ‘80s?--instead of the charts that are readily available from the Office of Management and Budget which rather optimistically predicted a 2009 unemployment rate of 8.1%. It should also be noted that these estimates were made back in January prior to the economic outlook getting more and more pessimistic in subsequent months, which the President's economic staff has acknowledged all along. Now one tenth of a percent may not seem like that big of a deal but in an age where accurate information is only a few mouse-clicks away, no one, especially a U.S. Congressman, can afford to distort information by even the smallest of margins.
Chaffetz goes on to say of his bitmap, "the following graph shows that the President was claiming that the impact of the stimulus package would be immediate."
First of all, I'm pretty sure that the President never claimed, in words or graphics, that the impact of the stimulus bill would be immediate. Second, where did Jason get this graph (which he also refers to as "the report") anyway? There is nothing in the image to indicate its source and the document itself is only named "stimulus graph.bmp" which tells us even less. Now, I'm sure that Jason is counting on his constituents to just take him at his word and not question his statements, numbers or motives but what he didn't count on was the fact that I live in his district, subscribe to his e-mail list and don't trust anyone. So, as usual, I did a little homework.
It turns out that the graph is from a report titled "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" (emphasis added) released on January 10 and prepared in part by Christina Romer, Chair Nominee Designate, at the time, of the then President-elect's Council of Economic Advisors. Not only does this report, and the graphic contained in it, predate the Obama administration by at least 10 days, it was written over a month before anyone even knew what the final details of the stimulus package would be. And the statistics used in it were most likely based on economic forecasts from the last quarter of 2008, when we were only just realizing that we were even in a recession. During the following month the language and fiscal details of the stimulus bill went through so many changes and adjustments that the data and the graph presented in that January 10 report were rendered completely inapplicable to the final legislation.
It's like blaming an author because the movie based on his best-selling novel has a different ending from the book. Most novelists are left out of the production loop once their work has been optioned by a movie studio. The same thing happens when the President proposes legislation to Congress. He has little if any control over how the final legislation is going to turn out even if the Legislative Branch is dominated by the same party.
As for Chaffetz' insistence that the stimulus package is both too big and ineffective, there are some reputable economists, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who think that the stimulus package is too small to be effective. As I have said in a previous post on "The Anglə,"(4:39) this is because the authors of the stimulus legislation kept making compromises at the request of Republican members of Congress in the interest of bipartisanship and GOP support of the stimulus when it came time for the final vote. After all that compromise, most Republicans, including Chaffetz, voted against it anyway.
Ya know, one of these days all of his lying and political bullshit is going to come back and bite Chaffetz right in his Republican ass and I plan on being there when it happens.