Mr. Quarter is reprinting the following excerpts from an article published in Investor's Business Daily today:
February 17 marks the three-year anniversary of the day President Obama signed the stimulus into law. The original estimate for the cost of the stimulus was $787 billion. Now the Congressional Budget Office says that, when all is said and done, it will have cost $825 billion (that is $825,000,000,000).
At the time, Obama claimed that it would "create or save" up to 3.5 million jobs, and that "a new wave of innovation, activity and construction will be unleashed across America." The stimulus, would, he promised""ignite spending by businesses and consumers" and bring "real and lasting change for generations to come."
Here's where various indicators stood in or around February 2009, and where they stand today.
Unemployment rate: The jobless rate is unchanged from February 2009 to January 2012, the latest month for which we have data. Both stood at 8.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Obama's economists had initially predicted that with the stimulus, unemployment would stay below 8%.
Number of long-term unemployed: The number of workers who have been unable to find a job in 27 months or more has shot up 83%, with their ranks now at 5.5 million.
Civilian labor force: It has shrunk by 126,000. In past recoveries, the labor force climbed an average of more than 3 million over comparable time periods.
Labor force participation: The share of adults in the labor force — either looking or working — has dropped 3% — also highly unusual in a recovery. At 63.7%, labor force participation is at a low not seen since the middle of the very deep 1981-82 recession, when fewer women were in the work force. A lower participation rate makes the unemployment rate look better.
Household income: Median annual household income is about 7% below where it was in February 2009, according to the Sentier Research Household Income Index.
National debt: Up $4.5 trillion, or 41%, according to the Treasury Department's monthly reports. The latest Treasury figures put the national debt at $15.4 trillion, larger than the entire U.S. economy.
Deficits: The deficit for fiscal year 2009 totaled $1.4 trillion. The Obama administration's proposed deficit for 2012 is $1.3 trillion, which would mark the fourth year of deficits topping $1 trillion.
Gross Domestic Product: Real GDP has climbed just 6% between Q1 2009 and Q4 2011, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. For those that need help with the arithmetic, that is growth averaging just 2% per year
Spending by consumers and businesses: Personal consumption has managed to climb 10% in the past three years, according to the BEA, but companies continue to hoard cash, with cash on hand up 27% since Q1 2009, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.
Perhaps the best measure of the success or failure of the stimulus, however, is the fact that President Obama in his latest budget plan has called for still another round of stimulus spending, this time totaling $350 billion over the next four years, for what is labeled "short-term measures for jobs growth."
Post Script: The budget for Fiscal Year 2010 — the first budget developed by the Obama Administration after taking office in 2009 — projected the federal deficit in fiscal 2012 would be $581 billion, or 3.5% of GDP. Instead, the budget deficit now is expected to be $1,327 billion, or 8.5% of GDP.