The idea that President Obama’s stimulus package failed is a favorite Republican canard, even as economic consensus and actual fact prove the oft-repeated statement that “the stimulus didn’t work” false. Nevertheless, Republicans and conservative commentators continue to recycle this myth.
The latest example is conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who today published a column in which he blasts the stimulus as a failed policy. Krauthammer’s evidence for that failure is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as the stimulus is properly known, didn’t generate a project as big as the Hoover Dam:
First, the $831 billion stimulus that was going to “reinvest” in America and bring unemployment below 6 percent. We know about the unemployment. And the investment? Obama loves to cite great federal projects such as the Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system. Fine. Name one thing of any note created by Obama’s Niagara of borrowed money. A modernized electric grid? Ports dredged to receive the larger ships soon to traverse a widened Panama Canal? Nothing of the sort. Solyndra, anyone?
Krauthammer is right that Obama’s stimulus bill didn’t create a Hoover Dam. Instead, it created the equivalent of a dozen Hoover Dams.
The maximum output of the Hoover Dam is about 2 gigawatts of electricity. The increase in U.S. wind-power output under the Obama administration so far has been 25 gigawatts — 12 times as much as produced by the dam. Under normal wind conditions, that’s enough to power over 6 million more homes with renewable, environmentally-friendly energy. That explosion in wind-power didn’t happen by chance: as Michael Grunwald points out in a Time column today, it was “the Obama stimulus bill that revived the wind industry and the rest of the clean-tech sector from a near-death experience.”
Under Obama, the United States has doubled its annual wind power output to 50 gigawatts, thanks in large part to the stimulus bill, enabling us to keep pace with China, the world’s wind power leader.
Krauthammer only asked for “one thing of note,” but Grunwald has more just on the clean energy tip, which was only a fraction of the overall stimulus effort: “The stimulus has financed the world’s largest wind farm, a half dozen of the world’s largest solar farms, the nation’s first refineries for advanced biofuels, a new battery industry for electric vehicles, unprecedented investments in cleaner coal and a smarter electric grid, and over 15,000 additional clean-energy projects.”
As far as the right’s repeated insistence that the stimulus didn’t work, that’s false too.