This wasn’t a gaffe. It was a statement of a world-view. The president is still a devotee of stimulus economics. All that stands between us and a robust economic recovery, in his view, is yet more deficit spending on more government workers and more public-works projects. The economy would be cooking with Crisco if only we could get the public-sector going again.
In making this argument, the President aligns himself with his critics on the left who argue that his $800 billion stimulus bill–the headline initiative in a dog’s breakfast of stimuli over the last three years—didn’t work because it was too small. They are the Keynesian equivalent of the Communist sympathizers who used to insist that socialism never failed, it just had never really been tried. If four straight years of $1 trillion deficits, not to mention an increase in federal spending from $3 trillion in 2008 to almost $3.7 trillion in 2013, isn’t enough stimulus, then there will never be enough stimulus.
Obama’s case for the adequacy of private-sector growth is highly selective. He says the economy has added a total of 4.3 million jobs in the last 27 months. True enough. That still leaves us 4.6 million private-sector jobs shy of the number the economy boasted in January 2008. And job growth has been slowing. We added just 69,000 jobs in May. At that rate, we will recover those 4.6 million jobs in another 5 1/2 years, by which time the Barack Obama Presidential Library may itself be a shovel-ready project. In the first quarter, the economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate. Clearly, one man’s “fine” is another man’s “anemic.”