Political Animal


September 09, 2011 8:45 AM Economists: Obama’s plan would work (if it passes)

By Steve Benen

President Obama delivered an awfully good speech last night, and a closer look at the plan itself suggests the American Jobs Act is at least as good as the rhetoric. If we stick to a naive fantasy world in which responsible policymaking is still possible, what kind of effect could we expect from this economic package? Economists have begun weighing in — and they’re generally impressed.

A tentative thumbs-up. That was the assessment Thursday night from economists who offered mainly positive reviews of President Barack Obama’s $450 billion plan to stimulate job creation.

Some predicted it would put hundreds of thousands of people back to work next year, mainly because a Social Security tax cut for workers would be deepened and extended to small businesses. […]

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimated that the president’s plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point next year compared with existing law.

Gene Sperling, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, appeared on MSNBC this morning and agreed with the Moody’s Analytics analysis, adding that the Americans Jobs Act would likely lower the unemployment rate to 8%, and possibly even lower. The Economic Policy Institute was also impressed, and would expect to see massive economic gains.

Macroeconomic Advisers wasn’t quite as optimistic, but its analysis projected that the White House plan “would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term.” The firm would expect to see the proposal create at least 1.3 million jobs.

There are reasonable questions as to whether congressional Republicans even want to improve the economy at all, but if lawmakers have any interest in creating jobs and boosting growth, the American Jobs Act would work. It’s not everything I could have asked for, but it’s an ambitious solution to a pressing problem that would a big difference.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Andy on September 09, 2011 8:48 AM:

    The GOP will do nothing. They have no incentive to help anyone, much less the poor and unemployed. And they care nothing for the "middle class".

    A fine speech, but everything is basically DOA. The GOP is a zero-sum party at this point.

  • c u n d gulag on September 09, 2011 8:59 AM:

    The GOP will, of course, now get Luntz in his lab to help them undo the Kenyan Socialist Communit's Fascist job-killing plan.

    At the very least, Obama's going to make it very, very difficult for them to spin this.

    And, I thought he was masterful at pointing fingers without calling people out. But, I saw that if he doesn't get what he's demanding - 'Pass this jobs bill NOW' - that he may soon go into full Truman "No Nothing Congress" mode, and add his own take - 'Do Worse for Political Purposes Congress."

    But the GOP will try to do whatever they can to stop the American Jobs Act.

    They think that anything that helps this country doesn't help their party - and remember, it's PARTY UBER ALLES!!!

  • mr. irony on September 09, 2011 9:01 AM:

    GOP 2012: But if the economy improves, we have no chance !

  • kevo on September 09, 2011 9:08 AM:

    Politicizing empirical prognostication provides Republicans self-perceived proof partisanship produces positive results at the polls! They ain't gonna play!

    Damn the Frank Luntz types among us! -Kevo

  • KK on September 09, 2011 9:09 AM:

    Not bad but since it is going to fail, why not go for a grand slam? What not aim for growth of 3-4% and unemployment to 6%? Then attack them to no end over it.

  • sjw on September 09, 2011 9:14 AM:

    I hope that Team Obama recognizes that the proposal is a stick that needs to be used both short-term AND long-term with which to beat Republicans. And it should start with Obama today. It needs to happen every day with the press briefings. Relentless. Unforgiving. "We are in an emergency situation. The country is in peril. Our economy is on the bring of disaster. Millions of people are unemployed, and even those with jobs are seriously hurting. Republicans are sabotaging the economy. We need this bill passed now!"

  • T2 on September 09, 2011 9:14 AM:

    Any bets on how long it will be before Boner or McConnell will say "The president has yet to present any plan to create jobs for America" - as if his speech and plan last night never existed.

  • zandru on September 09, 2011 9:15 AM:

    So, What can WE do to help?

    Yeah, yeah - we know the GOP will push back, with all the thought-manipulation tools that Madison Avenue has honed to perfection over the last century. We know they'll work their Mighty Wurlitzer 24x7.

    Question is, what will WE, as sane, well-informed lib/pro Americans do about it?

    The President isn't Superman, nor does he run our government. Read the Constitution. And note, while you're at it, that it starts out "We the People".

    What can "we the people" do? We can talk up the Obama Jobs Plan, or at least the parts of it we like the most. We can call and write our elected Representatives. The Repubs don't care, but flood them anyhow. We can post on news sites and the old news "papers" (assuming your town still has one). Some folks like the idea of demonstrating - say, one of those "flash dance" mobs or something. Be sure and coordinate with your local TV and radio.

    Look at what they did in Wisconsin.

  • Vokoban on September 09, 2011 9:21 AM:

    The media will forget about the plan as soon as the FOX has found the next little thing to hyperventilate.

    And THEN the GOP will come forward claiming that Obama never did anything for jobs.

    And the Dems will stay silent and cave.

    I should become a fortuneteller...

  • ComradeAnon on September 09, 2011 9:26 AM:

    Call me jaded, but I'm not seeing any help from republicans in my tea leaves. Unless the President has a whole bunch of really incrimination photos, why should they react differently than they have for every other idea, etc. I'm sure their response will say that this is nothing more than a plan for enhancing his reelection chances.

  • danimal on September 09, 2011 9:43 AM:

    Looks like a bunch of Republican trolls here this morning. Or are Democrats so afraid of their own shadows that they give up the fight before it's begun.

    To all those "mumble, mumble, Frank Luntz and the GOP Congress won't let us have a cookie" types: Politics is about mobilizing public opinion, fighting for your priorities and making life miserable for the opposition until they relent. If the GOP stands between American Jobs and the American people, CRUSH THEM. That is all.

  • Josef K on September 09, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Let's all agree on a few essential truths:

    Water is wet
    The sky is blue
    The Republican Party will fight to kill this proposal and any improvement dead

    Its plausible Reid will get the bill through the Senate (I can't see McConnell standing against it, but some of the others are just plain nuts), which in turn will put the pressure on Speaker Bohner to pass something else.

    Wonder if this'll be a replay of the ACA. Probably not, but who knows what the GOP will drive everyone to.

  • RET on September 09, 2011 9:44 AM:

    Of course the Republicans are going to kill this bill. The object of this exercise is to make plainly visible the Republicans' fingerprints on the knife, so Obama can be Truman 2.0 and get a better Congress for this second term.

    At least I hope that's what Obama and the Democrats have in mind.

  • blondie on September 09, 2011 10:02 AM:

    To Steve, I have one request: Any time you include references to Mark Zandi, even when in a quote from someone else, I wish you'd add "the economic advisor to McCain's presidential campaign."

    Especially when he has something positive to say about Obama's plans or actions.

  • CeeBee on September 09, 2011 10:11 AM:

    The Republicans can fight if they want, but it would be a stupid fight. Unemployment for people in their 20s is even higher than the general unemployment rate (and I'd wager the UNDERemployment rate is even uglier than that!)

    If you care at all about the deficit, or the country's long-term prospects, you won't let their prospects wither away in front of their eyes while you stand around and passively watch.

    Pubs are shortsighted and foolish, but not that shortsighted. People that age are losing ground by the day. They are our future!

    It is a matter of time before it starts to turn violent, imo.

  • Ohioan on September 09, 2011 10:22 AM:

    The President threw the gauntlet at US - he put forth a bold plan that has the stamp of approval of EPI and Krugman... I couldn't have asked for more.

    The question is now very simple, will WE rally behind it or won't we? It is OUR job now to keep beating back the misinformation and to keep clogging Congressional lines.

    There is no place for "Sigh. The GOP will not pass this". Not now. Not this time.

  • Peter Baxter on September 16, 2011 8:00 AM:

    President Obama has said we lack leadership in Europe now there's a
    case of the pot calling the milk jug Black.

    My Work Plan by Peter Baxter retired Management

    1 My executive summary. The world has too many people demanding
    too much resources this must be controlled. Only China has achieve
    success in the war against population growth the rest of the world has
    lost. My advice to China is only help those countries that have
    followed your example and controlled their populations. We must have a
    United Nations plan that tackles this problem of overpopulation now

    2 Marketing and Sales strategy -The United Nations Charter of Human
    Rights states everyone is entitled to their property and this is step
    two we will house everybody by building ecologically friendly homes
    for everybody in the world. We will have a United Nations controlled
    mortgages, that everyone can trust and can afford to pay.

    3 My team and personnel We need people trained to complete the above
    tasks and to achieve this we will offer free web based training. No
    one will be unemployed again those who are between jobs will be
    retrained on their computers. Employers will estimative their needs
    and this will be the basis for peoples training.
    We don't have sufficient workers to complete the task of homing
    everyone, my guess is we will need to build homes in factories and
    assemble them on site.

    Remarks No one will be judged on qualifications alone again but on
    their proven problem solving abilities. We have too many qualified
    idiots and not enough problem solvers.

    Please compare my plan with President Obamas

    This plan will never be accepted because of the Greed of a few
    plutocrats who control everything today including President Obama.

    However we do have a vote and we can vote for leaders who will
    implement this plan or one just like it for it is based on everyone's
    human rights.

    Peter Baxter