Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Is There A Real Debate Among Economists About The Obama Stimulus?

This survey of top economists about the effect of the Obama stimulus indicates that there is less debate about the impact of the stimulus within the profession than there is among the general public. Much of the general public believes that stimulus did not reduce unemployment, and they also believe that the resulting budget deficit has led to unsustainable government debt.  Few believe that the stimulus might have been too small, or that less of the stimulus should have been devoted to tax cuts.  Economists are more likely to debate the size and content of the stimulus rather than its efficacy.

The lack of consensus about the Obama stimulus among the general public is not the result of disagreement within the economics profession. There is wide agreement about its immediate impact, and some uncertainty about longer term effects.  The public depends upon the media for its information.  The right wing media constantly attacked the stimulus and government deficits for several years.  The mainstream media play a different game.  It gives equal time to both sides of the debate.  Given the consensus within the profession, this is like giving equal time to those who argue that the earth is flat.

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