High, persistent unemployment and a sluggish economy underscore what all but the most-dedicated supporters of Barack Obama know to be true: The president's 2009 stimulus program was a massively expensive bust.
Understanding why the stimulus failed is an important step in understanding how the government can—and cannot—goose economic recovery. To get a better sense of how and where the stimulus went wrong, Reason.tv focused on Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., that's home to a large number of government contractors and other recipients of money earmarked for the sorts of "shovel ready" projects that were going to bring the economy back to life.
President Obama's top economic advisor Larry Summers laid out ground rules for how stimulus dollars should be spent: The funds must be "targeted" at resources idled by the recession, the interventions must be "temporary," and they needed to "timely," or injected quickly into the economy.
None of that turned out to be true. "Even if you were to believe that government spending can trigger economic growth," says Veronique de Rugy, Reason columnist and senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, "the money is never spent in a way that's consistent with the conditions laid out by the Keynesians for it to be efficient."
Reason.tv identified four basic ways in which the stimulus was doomed almost before it was put into operation. For the full discussion of those areas and links to supporting data, go to http://reason.com/blog/2011/12/08/why-obamas-stimulus-failed-a-case-study
Written and produced by Jim Epstein, who also narrates.
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