If you type “stimulus was a failure” into Google you get a slew of links. From the Wall Street Journal to the Weekly Standard and other outlets, the $787 billion spending bill passed in 2009 was a complete and total dud. That it was is such an article of faith that House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders regularly intone against it. They even used popular anger against it (and the health-care law) to help retake the House in 2010.
But none of what they say is true. According to Mark Zandi, we owe the economy’s newfound traction to the stimulus.
Y’all know who Zandi is, right? He was an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and is the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. And ever since the great financial implosion of 2008, you can’t read or watch a story about the economy without a clear-eyed comment from him.
MARK ZANDI: In a normal time, I don’t think economic policy makes a large difference one way or another. But in times of crisis it makes all the difference in the world. And so I do think the policy response during the financial panic and during the Great Recession is very important to explaining why the recession ended as quickly as it did and why the recovery is gaining traction.
LUKE RUSSERT: So, the stimulus worked a little bit, you think, here?
ZANDI: I think it was a success, yes. It ended the recession. It jump-started the recovery. It’s not a source of long-term economic growth. It was never intended to be. But it did what it was supposed to do.
This isn’t the first time Zandi has said this. He said almost the exact same thing at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington in August 2010. Maybe folks will believe him now that more Americans are starting to get back to work.