Why no one thinks the stimulus worked

September 16, 2010

Whether it did or not, the popular impression is that the stimulus didn’t work. Obama thinks this is unfair because without it he argues things would have been much worse.
This message doesn’t resonate, which the Administration thinks is unfair.
But this is how the American people, as well as virtually every other organization or group of people in the world) think about things.
The Bush administration could have argued to they were blue in the face that without the invasion of Iraq things would have been much worse (Saddam would have developed his latent weapons program, invaded another country, funded terrorism, etc.)
No one cares. What they see is what happened, not what could have happened. Furthermore the people’s expectations were set by Bush himself. When they weren’t met, the people became dissatisfied.
In the case of the stimulus Obama set the expectation of recovery and a maximum unemployment rate of 8.0%. He compounded his expectation error by terming this the “Recovery Summer.” Talk about a slow learner.
There is virtually no difference between the Iraq and Stimulus scenarios and no amount of “communication” from the White House is going to turn the public perception around until a recovery actually comes.
But with every day that passes the less the American people will associate the eventual recovery with the actions of the White House. Look at how tepid the response has been to the $50 billion infrastructure stimulus plan. There’s really no mystery why.

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