People on different parts of the political spectrum can argue about whether President Obama’s approach to the economy has been wise or foolhardy, and whether it’s avoided even more misery or is making things worse, but I bet we can all agree on one thing: the Administration’s forecasts of the impact of its policies have turned out to be wildly optimistic.
The Administration predicted that the stimulus bill would move unemployment rate markedly lower; that didn’t happen. It said we would have “recovery summers” in 2010 and 2011; that didn’t happen either. Its forecasts of budget deficits, the costs of legislation like the Affordable Care Act, the losses likely to be incurred as a result of the GM bailout, and the success of “green energy” investments in companies like Solyndra also have been way off base. (We can argue about why the forecasts haven’t been realized, and how much of the blame should be allocated to the Bush Administration, “obstructionism” by House Republicans, or other factors. My point is simply that the Administration’s projections have consistently fallen far short of the ultimate reality.)
That’s why the Administration should hire a Cleveland sports fan to review future forecasts and predictions. Anyone who lived through The Drive, The Fumble, and the Indians’ loss in the 1997 World Series knows that overconfidence kills and the wise course is to grimly steel yourself for the worst imaginable misfortune. The fan would have counseled our newly elected President to dial back the projections of great success, build lots of pessimistic assumptions into the predictive models, and talk endlessly about the extraordinarily difficult challenges presented by the bad economy. If actual performance then exceeded the dramatically reduced expectations, the difference could be chalked up to the fact that the President’s programs have been even more successful that we hoped.
I wonder if the hiring of a snakebit Cleveland fan hasn’t happened already. After the awful job creation statistics of the past few months, expectations were reduced to zilch. When the latest statistics were released yesterday, and the creation of a measly 170,000 or so new jobs was announced, people acted like it was a cause for celebration. It was a very Cleveland moment.