23 March 2012

Darrell Issa’s Two Sides of the Stimulus

Debate continues over the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the “stimulus bill” that President Barack Obama pushed to lessen the damage of the Bush-Cheney recession, widely called the worst economic downturn in the US since the Great Depression.

Some economists, such as Paul Krugman, felt that stimulus bill should have been larger in order to be fully effective. Others felt that the federal deficit is too large to allow such spending, even in an economic emergency. The consensus within that field is that this bill increased US employment by one to three million jobs in 2010.

Obama’s political rivals, of course, did not accept that consensus (and, to be sure, some economists agree with them). It becomes increasingly difficult to criticize the President about the economy, however, as the economy continues gradually to improve.

This week on FOX News, one Republican leader came up with a new form of criticism. As the Washington Post reported, Rep. Darrell Issa said:
Stimulus was supposed to be quick. In fact, they never intended to spend it and will not completely have effectively spent it until after the president’s re-elect. Always looking at how do you get the maximum hit when the president was up for re-elect.
The ever-suspicious Issa chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, so conceivably he might have actual evidence to back up this accusation. He could have brought up that evidence this week in hearings on the Department of Energy. Yet Issa didn’t do that. Instead, he attacked President Obama for saying something he never said.

In fact, the Recovery.gov website reports that as of this week $787 billion out of the $840 billion allocated in the bill (94%) had already been spent. In June 2011 the National Journal reported that Issa praised that website for providing information to the public.

Furthermore, back in September 2011 Issa was complaining about “the failed stimulus,” and warning against a “second stimulus” and “stimulus II.” So he obviously implied then that the spending was over and had had little effect.

Yet in claiming this week that the law was holding money back until the election and beyond, Issa implied that such spending does improve the economy enough to make voters happy.

When the Washington Post asked Issa’s staff for information, they offered nothing but an unrelated attack on an Obama campaign video. That’s because Issa’s conflicting and illogical criticisms aren’t based on facts. They’re a sign of OIP Derangement Syndrome. The Post labeled Issa’s remark with four Pinnochios, the rating it reserves for the worst “Whoppers.”

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