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Has Stimulus Failed? Take Two
The newly elected president was left with an economic mess. The bad policies of the previous administration and unwisely taking the country to war had left the economy in trouble, with high unemployment and declining GNP. The new president decided to implement a drastic change in economic policy not long into his first year in office and was roundly criticized by his opponents. However, by August signs of recovery were already visible. August of 1921, that is. By the next year unemployment had been cut in half, and a year after that it was down to 2.4 percent after being 12 percent in 1921. The Harding administration had cut government spending in half, cut taxes and reduced the national deficit. Meanwhile the Federal Reserve kept interest rates high, thus keeping inflation down.
It's almost been a year and a half since Obama's stimulus package was passed, and have we seen comparable results? Not even close. At what point in time are stimulus supporters going to admit this policy was a mistake? The thing is, there's a playbook out there that worked. Cut down the size of government, reduce the tax burden and quit crowding out private investment with government debt. The Obama administration has gone the exact opposite direction and we aren't seeing the results. The gains in the stock market and housing prices are being offset by the declining value of the dollar. Private investment and savings continue to decline while public debt soars to new and frightening highs.
The excuse for failure so far has been that Obama was handed such a mess that recovery is difficult. Certainly that is true, but at some point in time the policies we are following will have to be examined and declared successful or failures. I would like to know how long it will take. I am suggesting two years, since that is how long it took the Harding administration to arrive at complete recovery from the depression of 1920-21.