Allan Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon and AEI makes the argument that the president’s economic policy has failed to generate the kind of recovery that its proponents had hoped for:
Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.
Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms this outcome.
Another large part of the stimulus went to relieve state and local governments of their budget deficits. Transferring a deficit from the state to the federal government changes very little. Some teachers and police got an additional year of employment, but their gain is temporary. Any benefits to them must be balanced against the negative effect of the increased public debt and the temporary nature of the transfer.
The Obama economic team ignored past history. The two most successful fiscal stimulus programs since World War II—under Kennedy-Johnson and Reagan—took the form of permanent reductions in corporate and marginal tax rates.
So much for the “multiplier effect,” about which not much has been heard, recently. Yet to be felt are the impacts of Obamacare and Cappin’ Trade.
Government is much better at redistributing wealth than it is at creating it.