W. James Antle III’s review of “Debacle”
The review starts this way:
Remember the stimulus plan? The big spending package enacted at the height of hope and change, its legacy reads like a litany of broken campaign promises. It was “only” supposed to cost $787 billion. It was intended to create or save 5.5 million jobs. It was going to keep unemployment from spiking to more than 9 percent. Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, members of his economic team were predicting that unemployment would peak at 7.9 percent sometime in 2009 before falling below 6 percent by April 2012. Does it sound like an alternate reality? Well, prepare to enter into this bizarro world during this fall’s presidential campaign. . . . .
Here is another book review by Robert VerBruggen at RealClearBooks.
“Americans really need to ask themselves a question,” Grover Norquist and John Lott write in their brief manifesto Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. “Have people really noticed their lives so greatly improved by the increased government spending that it is worth all this new debt? For example, cutting back the 2012 budget to what was spent in 2008 would leave the deficit at a few hundred billion dollars, instead of more than $1.1 trillion.” That is a good question. And as Norquist and Lott point out, this surge in spending comes at precisely the wrong time, as greedy hordes of Baby Boomers are getting ready to retire and raid the federal treasury. In Debacle, the authors offer a solid chronicle of the government’s recent fiscal follies — from the stimulus to green jobs and from housing to bailouts — with a focus on the Obama administration. On the question of whether President Obama has delivered the results he promised, the facts speak for themselves. In Debacle we find the handy graph created in early 2009 by two Obama administration economists to illustrate the expected effects of the first major stimulus. Without the stimulus, the unemployment rate would climb to 9 percent in 2010 and stay above 6 percent through most of 2012; with the stimulus, unemployment would never reach 8 percent, and would fall below 6 percent in April of 2012. In fact, the stimulus passed, and the economy did worse than it was supposed to do without the stimulus. Here in April of 2012, the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent. And as Norquist and Lott show, the climb out of the Great Recession has been quite slow in comparison with previous American recoveries. Without time travel there’s no way to prove a different president would have done better, but President Obama has not succeeded. . . .