A new book out later this month paints a vastly different picture of President Obama’s economic stimulus than the one he sold to the American people upon taking office in 2009.
Time senior correspondent Mike Grunwald, a self-proclaimed “Recovery Act cheerleader,” argues in “The NEW New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era” that focus on jobs was not the administration’s real intent.
Despite assertions from both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden that the stimulus was an economic-recovery measure, Grunwald writes that the White House had another agenda with the $787 billion package:
Obama had done lots of talking about clean energy, health care, education, and infrastructure. Now he could do lots of spending. … Innovation doesn’t move in a straight line. Disruptive technologies can putter around the margins … for years … But if they get better or cheaper, at some point they can suddenly take off, challenging the status quo. And as they scale up, they get even cheaper. That’s what’s happening as solar power travels down the cost curve. … Solyndra was just a bump in the road to a clean-energy future, and we’re further down the road than most people realize. … Change isn’t always obvious. … Even before Obamacare, the Recovery Act started pushing the medical system in the directions Obama wanted it to go.
Grunwald’s reporting seems to reinforce critiques of the stimulus, namely, that Obama has wasted taxpayer money in efforts to push his “green energy” agenda. This includes failed projects like the now defunct solar company Solyndra and, more recently, the missing $500,000 of taxpayer money from the Energy Department.
This, of course, is a vastly different rationale for the stimulus than the one Obama and Biden outlined when selling the package and promoting it.
In a January 2009 speech on the economy, Obama warned of “the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence in our economy.”
“That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jump-start job creation and long-term growth,” he said.
At a July 2010 speech at the White House, Biden said, “This isn’t about big government spending. It’s about getting the economy going through seed money.”
Melanie Wilcox is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.