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Monday, February 23, 2009

Wapo Columnist Takes Obama To Task On Stimulus

Washington Post op-ed columnist, Robert J. Samuelson, takes Barack Obama to task on his support for the stimulus package as it was signed.

Judged by his own standards, President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus program is deeply disappointing. For weeks, Obama has described the economy in grim terms. "This is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill recession," he said at his Feb. 9 news conference. It's "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." Given these dire warnings, you'd expect the stimulus package to focus almost exclusively on reviving the economy. It doesn't, and for that, Obama bears much of the blame.

The case for a huge stimulus -- which I support -- is to prevent a devastating downward economic spiral. Spending is tumbling worldwide. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. economy contracted at a nearly 4 percent annual rate. In Japan, the economy fell at a nearly 13 percent rate; in Europe, the rate was about 6 percent. These are gruesome declines. If the economic outlook is as bleak as Obama says, there's no reason to dilute the upfront power of the stimulus. But that's what he's done.

Read the whole thing.

His conclusion is clear enough that commentary isn't needed here, when he says "Obama is gambling that his flawed stimulus will seem to work well enough that he’ll receive credit for restarting the economy — and not be blamed for engineering a colossal waste.”

Obama can always hope.