Media still ignoring economists to declare stimulus has failed

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Media figures have continued to advance the claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has failed. In fact, many economists believe that it is too early for the stimulus package to have fully taken effect.

Over the past week, media figures have continued to advance the claim that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has failed. In fact, many economists believe that it is too early for the stimulus package to have fully taken effect.

As Media Matters for America noted, several progressive economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, believe that the current state of the economy indicates not that the stimulus package has failed, but that additional stimulus spending may be necessary. Notably, Krugman said of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on July 5: "[I]t was never expected to do very much this soon. The problem, instead, is that the hole the stimulus needs to fill is much bigger than predicted. That -- coupled with the fact that yes, stimulus takes time to work -- is the reason for a second round, ASAP."

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, has reportedly stated that while it is "premature" to consider "another dose of fiscal stimulus," the recovery act "has not had a sufficient opportunity to work." In a July 11 article, The Washington Post reported that, according to Zandi:

It is premature to conclude one way or another if the economy needs another dose of fiscal stimulus. The current stimulus has not had a sufficient opportunity to work, and while it has already provided some benefit to the economy -- the downturn would be even worse without it -- its benefit won't be fully felt until later this year. A reasonable judgment regarding the need for more stimulus should wait until year's end.

Additionally, on July 10, The Wall Street Journal reported on its most recent survey of 51 economists on the state of the economy, finding that while only eight of the economists supported an additional stimulus, "[w]hen asked how much the stimulus has helped the economy, 53% of respondents said it has provided somewhat of a boost but that the larger effect is still to come."

Media figures and outlets who have ignored the opinions of economists in order to assert or repeat the claim that the stimulus is failing include:

  • In his column for the July 20 edition of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol wrote that "only six months into the new administration, even a talented hot air blower like President Obama, assisted by friendly gusts of wind from the media, is having trouble keeping the liberal blimp afloat. The stimulus hasn't worked. Cap-and-trade and health care reform are in trouble. The can't-we-all-get-along foreign policy isn't leading to a more peaceful world. And the administration seems to have no idea what to do about Guantánamo."
  • On the July 11 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch, host Jon Scott stated, "Critics claim the White House effort to fix our economy is failing. Is the press failing to push for answers?"

Later during the program, Scott asked: "[T]here's also talk, Kirsten, about this second stimulus, which does get a certain amount of stuff -- of coverage. But, I mean, if the first one hasn't even been spent yet, how do you propose a second one? And how is the media supposed to decide whether it's, you know, needed or not?" Democratic strategist and Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers responded, in part, "[P]robably the biggest problem with the one before was that it wasn't really a stimulus package."

  • In his July 9 Washington Times column, chief political correspondent Donald Lambro wrote:

The Obama administration's latest lame excuse for its failed stimulus spending plan is that it underestimated the severity of the recession.

"We misread how bad the economy was," Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

The White House has been coming up with a lot of half-baked reasons why the president's massive $800 billion plan has not made a dent in the mushrooming unemployment rate, but this was a beaut.

  • In a July 9 post to MSNBC.com's First Read blog, NBC's Domenico Montanaro wrote: "The Republican National Committee declares the stimulus a 'failure' and takes a shot at President Obama in a Web video, as it tries to capitalize on criticism that the stimulus hasn't done enough to stem the economic downfall. The video declares the stimulus has 'failed' and loops in a clip from an interview with Obama from Russia, in which Obama says there's nothing he would have done differently." Montanaro also posted video of the ad.
  • On the July 8 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated:

HANNITY: We are now 141 days removed from the signing of the president's stimulus package, and in that time more than 2 million more Americans have actually lost their jobs.

Now, in recent weeks, the administration has now been forced to acknowledge that its $787 billion spending spree is not producing the results that they promised you. Now, we've heard the vice president say that the White House, quote, "misread the economy," and that, quote, "everybody guessed wrong."

And a report issued this morning by the Government Accountability Office proves that the stimulus has, in fact, failed. And that is our headline tonight: "Stimulus Disaster." Now, a hearing on Capitol Hill earlier today highlighted the fact that the money intended to get this economy back on track is instead being used to cushion state budgets and to fund short-term projects that are not creating jobs.

And President Obama is now forced to rewrite history. He once said the stimulus would create 3 to 4 million new jobs. But as this GOP video shows, he is changing his story. You're going to love this.

From Kristol's July 20 Weekly Standard column:

With the Democratic congressional victories in November 2006, the nightmare seemed to be ending. And in November 2008, with the election of Barack Obama and increased congressional majorities, it seemed to be over. A new era had dawned.

But did it? Maybe we're now experiencing a liberal interlude, not a liberal inflection point. After all, only six months into the new administration, even a talented hot air blower like President Obama, assisted by friendly gusts of wind from the media, is having trouble keeping the liberal blimp afloat.

The stimulus hasn't worked. Cap-and-trade and health care reform are in trouble. The can't-we-all-get-along foreign policy isn't leading to a more peaceful world. And the administration seems to have no idea what to do about Guantánamo.

From the July 13 AP article:

The upbeat economic report served as a supporter for President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan. Critics have said it has failed to provide the results promised; its supporters, including the president, urged patience.

The White House, seeking to calm domestic frustration, has insisted its plan would eventually boost millions of jobs. The CEA report stood by a prediction that the stimulus spending would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

However, the job market continues to contract and more Americans are filing for unemployment. The economic recession has cost the United States 6.5 million jobs since December 2007 and has left states and cities in financial freefall.

From the July 11 edition of Fox News' Fox News Watch:

SCOTT: A reporter comes clean, admitting the press sided with Biden in '08.

Critics claim the White House effort to fix our economy is failing. Is the press failing to push for answers?

The world says goodbye to the "King of Pop." Can the media say goodbye, too?

And a Supreme Court nominee prepares for her hearings. Is the press prepared?

On the panel this week: Jane Hall of the American University; Andrea Tantaros, conservative columnist and FoxNews.com contributor; Jim Pinkerton, fellow, New America Foundation and Fox Forum contributor; and columnist and Fox News analyst Kirsten Powers.

I'm Jon Scott. Fox News Watch is on right now.

[...]

PINKERTON: When Warren Buffett, a strong Obama supporter, says that unemployment isn't going to 10, it's going to 11, and compares the stimulus package -- the air ball of the stimulus package -- to either candy or Viagra, neither of which are very nutrifying, then you know the media, too, fell for it. Because, remember, we were told what a rush we were in, in February -- had to do this right now because it's instantaneous how this has to happen.

SCOTT: Well, and, you know, hardly any of the stimulus funds have been spent. And you don't see that out there --

HALL: Well, there's a lot that's --

SCOTT: -- in the mainstream media.

HALL: I mean, to be fair, all this week, there were a lot of articles -- in The New York Times, in The Washington Post -- questioning, where is the money gone, how can he do health care, isn't he doing too much? These were news articles.

There's also a case to be made by the Paul Krugmans of the world -- the liberal economists -- that he didn't do enough, and now he can't come back and ask for more.

I think it's -- I think the media are following, in a way, the public's unease with how much money is being spent. I think we're not hearing a very good debate about -- about this. We're hearing the Republicans and conservatives saying, "It's over. He's done. And guess what? We're going to win back Congress." And other people saying, "I can't understand this," which is what a lot of people think.

SCOTT: Well, and there's also talk, Kirsten, about this second stimulus, which does get a certain amount of stuff -- of coverage. But, I mean, if the first one hasn't even been spent yet, how do you propose a second one? And how is the media supposed to decide whether it's, you know, needed or not?

POWERS: Well, we've talked about this before. I don't think that the media is capable of deciding those type of things. I don't think they understand what's going on. And it's very easy for them to sort of be told by, you know, whether it's Larry Summers, whoever sits down, that this is what has to happen, and they kind of transcribe it and they believe that.

I think that we don't know if there will be another stimulus package. I think that probably the biggest problem with the one before was that it wasn't really a stimulus package. And, you know, and I think that actually was covered to a certain extent. I mean, that it was sort of larded up with a lot of stuff from Congress, and it wasn't the type of -- it wasn't a pure stimulus --

SCOTT: You're not calling it the porkulus bill, are you?

POWERS: I'm not doing that. But it was not a pure stimulus package.

From Lambro's July 9 Washington Times column:

The Obama administration's latest lame excuse for its failed stimulus spending plan is that it underestimated the severity of the recession.

"We misread how bad the economy was," Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

The White House has been coming up with a lot of half-baked reasons why the president's massive $800 billion plan has not made a dent in the mushrooming unemployment rate, but this was a beaut.

Misread? Throughout his presidential campaign, and the early months of his presidency, President Obama repeatedly compared the recession to the Great Depression when one-third of the work force was unemployed.

Even his own economic advisers have since said such a comparison to a decade-long depression is preposterous. But Mr. Obama kept comparing the current difficulty to the worst economic catastrophe in modern American history -- if anything, exaggerating the recession, not underestimating it.

Mr. Biden, speaking for the administration, said it was unfair to say the stimulus has failed, because "no one anticipated, no one expected that recovery package would in fact be in a position at this point of having distributed the bulk of the money."

But not too long ago, the White House was predicting that the stimulus plan would soon be creating or preserving (which no one can verify with any accuracy) hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Then, when polls began showing increased public doubts that the plan was working, the administration said it would begin "ramping up" the snail's-pace stimulus spending over the next 100 days.

Now Mr. Biden says the plan is going to take more time than they anticipated because so many of the contracts for construction and other public works projects have only recently been completed or were in fact still in the pipeline.

From a July 9 post to MSNBC.com's First Read blog:

The Republican National Committee declares the stimulus a "failure" and takes a shot at President Obama in a Web video, as it tries to capitalize on criticism that the stimulus hasn't done enough to stem the economic downfall.

The video declares the stimulus has "failed" and loops in a clip from an interview with Obama from Russia, in which Obama says there's nothing he would have done differently.

The video's title? "Nothing."

From the July 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: We are now 141 days removed from the signing of the president's stimulus package, and in that time more than 2 million more Americans have actually lost their jobs.

Now, in recent weeks, the administration has now been forced to acknowledge that its $787 billion spending spree is not producing the results that they promised you. Now, we've heard the vice president say that the White House, quote, "misread the economy," and that, quote, "everybody guessed wrong."

And a report issued this morning by the Government Accountability Office proves that the stimulus has, in fact, failed. And that is our headline tonight: "Stimulus Disaster." Now, a hearing on Capitol Hill earlier today highlighted the fact that the money intended to get this economy back on track is instead being used to cushion state budgets and to fund short-term projects that are not creating jobs.

And President Obama is now forced to rewrite history. He once said the stimulus would create 3 to 4 million new jobs. But as this GOP video shows, he is changing his story. You're going to love this.

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