Judging Stimulus Won't Be Easy

Washington Matters

Judging Stimulus Won't Be Easy

Think Obama will meet his goal of creating or saving 4 million jobs with the stimulus plan? We'll never know. It's one of those pledges that can't really be measured with any accuracy. 

There's no way to tell, for example, just how many jobs would disappear if we didn't have a stimulus plan. We can estimate, but the experts have all sorts of econometric models and they'll never agree. And if we don't know how many would be lost without a stimulus, how can you tell how many were saved with one? And even if jobs are created, there will be plenty of arguments over whether it's due to the stimulus or just part of the normal business cycle of recession and recovery.

Another problem is deciding where you start counting. Here at Kiplinger, we expect the recession to bottom out around midyear, with a slow recovery beginning sometime in the second half.  So do you start counting jobs today? When the stimulus is signed into law? Or at the low point?

Only one thing's for sure: There will be plenty of political arguments over the issue. Obama and the Democrats in Congress will claim as much credit as they can and Republicans will pooh-pooh it, saying most of any measurable gains would have come about regardless.