A popular definition of insanity, variously attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Ben Franklin, is, "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
By this standard the President of the United States is clearly insane, if reports are true that Obama will tonight call on Congress to pass for yet another stimulus program, this time in the ballpark of $300 billion.
What will this latest "stimulus" consist of? More government spending, of course (oops, I mean "investment"). True, some tax cuts are reportedly in the mix, but don't get too excited: According to Reuters, Obama would "...offset those short-term costs by calling on Congress to raise tax revenues." So really, in the end, Obama wants to tax more and spend more - that's his jobs proposal (again, if press reports are accurate), you know, the one he had to wait until after some late summer sun and surf at Martha's Vineyard to unveil.
This is insane, going by the popular definition, for the simple reason that the President has already tried this approach on a massive scale -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which injected nearly $1 trillion in government "stimulus" into the economy.
How did that go? Well, it was a dismal failure, but don't take my word for that. In January 2009, a report by Christina Romer, then-chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, predicted that, "Without the stimulus (the baseline), unemployment was projected to hit about 8.5 percent in 2009 and then continue rising to a peak of about 9 percent in 2010. With the stimulus, they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009," as PolitiFact succinctly summarizes.
Well, Democrats got their stimulus, and two years later the unemployment rate is still above 9 percent, while the economy added a horrifying zero net jobs in August. In other words, the unemployment rate is higher with the stimulus than the administration told us it would be if there had been no stimulus at all.
In spite of this massive (and expensive) policy failure, Obama wants to do the same thing all over again.
Of course, insanity has another, legal definition: "A mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality." According to this measure, I am seriously worried about the health of our Chief Executive's psyche, for government redistribution (which is what any stimulus really is) has never produced prosperity, ever. The fact that it does or can is a fatal fantasy. In February, 2011, economist J.D. Foster summed up why in testimony before The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:
"This policy does not work for the simple reason that government must somehow fund this additional spending, and it does so by borrowing. Suppose you take a dollar from your right pocket and transfer it to your left pocket. Do you have a new dollar to spend? Of course not."
A frank assessment of Obama's fiscal stewardship of our country would conclude the following: 1) He is committed to long discredited economic theories, in spite of their utter and repeated failures, and 2) he is unwilling -- or unable -- to consider any other course of action. Having tried the only thing he knows -- spend, spend, spend -- Obama is now at a complete loss. His flawed theory is now our failing economy.
God help us.