February 21, 2009
In sheer size, the economic measures announced by President Barack Obama to address “a crisis unlike we’ve ever known” are remarkable, rivaling and in many cases dwarfing the New Deal programs that Franklin D. Roosevelt famously created to battle the Great Depression.
Winning approval was a political tour-de-force for the new administration.
Yet gloom and uncertainty persist about the plan’s ability to deliver a cure for the economy’s severe ailments.
Stocks plunged to six-year lows after the burst of bill signings, bailout announcements and presidential pledges.
And polls show Americans are increasingly worried about losing jobs and not having enough money to pay their bills.
Why the skepticism?
Maybe there’s just been too long a run of bad news. Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Wachovia Securities, blames much of the negativity on “the fact that people are so down. They have no confidence in the future.”
Republicans complain about wasted money. Some Democratic supporters say the plan won’t help very much very quickly.
Former President Bill Clinton, who gives Obama high marks for straight talk in telling the nation the bad economic news, says his successor might try a more upbeat approach now. “I just want the American people to know that he’s confident that we are going to get out of this and he feels good about the long run,” Clinton said Friday on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
Patience, pleads the administration. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s chief economics adviser, says the success of the plan will be measured “not by daily market reaction but what happens over time.” Still, he says, “We are moving rapidly.”
No matter how people feel about the plans, they are undoubtedly ambitious—and expensive. Tomorrow’s taxpayers will still be paying for them long after Obama is out of office.
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