The Five Biggest Failures From President Obama’s Stimulus Law


By Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus is chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Three years later, the law isn’t producing the results it was supposed to

Some milestones are worth celebrating. Others, we’d much rather forget. Today, sadly, is the latter. On this day in 2009, President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill into law.

Three years and $825 billion later, the results are clear. Instead of producing an economic recovery, the stimulus produced only broken promises and massive debt. The stimulus failed—and by the president’s own standards at that.

[Check out political cartoons about President Obama.]

In early 2009, the incoming administration offered detailed predictions of exactly what the stimulus would accomplish. Those predictions, especially the five boldest, have proven to be terribly wrong. So on this anniversary, in lieu of gifts, let us offer the president a little accountability.

First, Obama’s economic advisers promised the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. In 2012, the unemployment rate was supposed to fall below 6 percent. The prediction was not meant to be taken lightly. In a January 2009 radio address, Obama announced he was releasing a report based on “rigorous analysis” that charted unemployment through 2013 so “the American people can see exactly what this plan will mean for their families.”

Today, 12.8 million Americans are unemployed, 8.2 million cannot find enough work, and 1.1 million have given up looking for work altogether. Unemployment still remains above 8 percent, the supposed maximum rate, and certainly above 6 percent. For 36 straight months, unemployment has been higher than what the president promised. That’s more than a rounding error; that is a failure of leadership.

[See editorial cartoons about the economy.]

Second, Obama promised the stimulus would not only have a large impact but also an immediate impact. Said the president-elect, “I’m confident … our 21st century investments will create jobs immediately,” adding, “We’ve got shovel-ready projects all across the country.”

Those jobs never materialized, and it was not for lack of workers—or shovels. As President Obama remarked in June 2011, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” He chuckled through the mea culpa, but it’s no laughing matter. Obama failed to deliver—and at great cost to taxpayers

[Check out political cartoons about the budget and deficit.]

Third, President Obama said in February 2009 that the stimulus would lift “2 million Americans from poverty.” But since Obama took office, 6.3 million Americans have fallen into poverty.

2010 U.S. Census data, the most recent available, showed that 46.2 million Americans were living in poverty. Worse still, child poverty has increased, rising to 21.6 percent. Many middle class Americans, unable to find work or decent wages, have fallen below the poverty line in recent years. It’s the most tragic cost of this prolonged economic nightmare.

[Read about how the U.S. is in the midst of the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression.]

Fourth, the “green economy,” Obama vowed, would create millions of jobs. The Energy Department has handed out $35.2 billion in stimulus money to jumpstart the clean energy industry, but it’s created more red ink than green jobs. Nationally, green technology accounts for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and there has been no marked boom in the industry.

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