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Yes, in the world of cable talk shows we can have moronic discussions about whether the Stimulus Bill created the crisis (on some sort of time machine basis) or whether it actually created jobs or a whole bunch of other nonsense. But a lot of history and a growing number of studies of the last two years show very clearly that the Stimulus Bill worked really well at filling the demand gap created by the Crash -- shaving down unemployment and creating substantial growth that otherwise wouldn't have existed. What would have been catastrophe was pulled back to the merely terrible. That's a fact for anyone who doesn't have a political or monetary interest in saying otherwise. But it wasn't enough.
Now, before going any further let's be totally candid and concede that getting this one through was no walk in the park. Even when Obama was strong, his team really had to work at getting this one passed. Since then congressional Republicans have followed a concerted and deliberate strategy of starving the recovery through various means including stopping unemployment benefit extensions. But it was always clear there was only going to be one real bite at this apple. And it just wasn't enough. Why the White House predicted a max out at 8.5% unemployment I'll never know since that was not only a politically unhelpful number, it was also deeply unrealistic. I suspect a lot of Democrats are going to go down to defeat because of it.