The Big Scamulus Con

In my column at Townhall this week (read it all here) I look at some of the reasons behind President Obama’s strategy for talking the economy down prior to passage of the “stimulus” bill and then back up last week.

“Spendulus,” “Porkulus,” and “the Generational Theft Act of 2009” are all nicknames some have given to the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” signed into law by President Obama last month. In light of Obama’s most recent statements about the economy an even more accurate moniker might be “Scamulus” considering how obvious it now is that everything leading up to passage of the bill was a master con perpetrated on American taxpayers. The con is not over either. We have simply entered the next phase.

“Scamulus” had to be passed in a big hurry. The rush was such that not only did Democrats and Obama break their pledge to allow for a 48 hour review period prior to the vote, but not even 24 hours were provided to read the 1400-plus page bill. The urgency of the bill, according to President Obama, was because America was facing an “economic crisis as deep and as dire as the Great Depression” and we could not afford to wait even 48 hours because it might turn into a “crisis that at some point we may be unable to reverse.”

Obama has also talked the economy down to the point that just about any future improvement will look like significant recovery by comparison and be hailed as the product of the miraculous Obamessiah’s policies. The media that downplayed, and sometimes just completely ignored, good economic news during the Bush years, will highlight each and every example of it over the next few years. It has already begun.

Over the weekend I heard the following statement from Lawrence Summers reported as an indication that the President’s policies are working and that his new found optimism is valid: “It is surely too early to gauge the broader economic impact of the President’s program. But it is modestly encouraging that since it began to take shape, consumer spending in the US, which was collapsing during the holiday season, appears, according to a number of indicators, to have stabilized.” As I cited earlier, at least one economic indicator, retail sales, was up in January for the first time in seven months indicating the collapse of consumer spending during the holiday season was already recovering in January, not only before passage of the major component of “the President’s program” in mid February, but for the most part before Obama was even sworn into office. The news report on the Summers statement I heard made no mention of the January retail sales numbers. Expect each and every positive bit of economic news to be attributed to the President’s plan, regardless of whether or not it is even possible for it to be related.Today in the news there is another reason the scam stimulus bill had to be rushed — I can’t find a link yet, but it was just reported on Fox News that today the Commerce Department reports an unexpected jump in new housing projects for the month of February. Construction of new homes and apartments jumped more than 22 percent since January. Consider how much more difficult it might have been to sell his 800 billion dollar bill if he had waited until this news was out. It would have been a little bit harder to sell the doom and gloom scare pitch with good news out there to report. It might have occurred to people that the economy would recover even without a big government takeover of more of the nation’s economy.

Update: Here is a link to the new home numbers (courtesy of Hugh).

Update II: Obama followers are desperate to downplay any signs of progress prior to passage of The One’s spendulus plan. Here are winners for the most desperate comments so far:

There is already a surplus of 6 million new, empty homes for sale or rent in the U.S. That is in addition to 13 million more that have already been started. And add to that all the older homes that people are trying to sell.

Yet more new homes would further depress housing prices.

New home starts isn’t a good sign.

Posted by Adrian Browne | March 17, 2009 9:20 AM
My response was ask Adrian to tell that to the construction workers who would not otherwise have been employed and to the sellers of lumber and other construction materials who would have otherwise not had the business. I also told Adrian I want to hear how new home starts are not a good sign when President Obama starts citing them in a few months as proof that his spendulus plan is working. Here’s the second winning comment:

From the housing starts article:

But despite February’s gain, housing starts are down 47% from a year ago, and are down 74% from the peak in early 2006. Permits are down 44% in the past year.

Is it too much to ask that you read the article before you link to it?

A 47% decrease is really really really bad. The article goes on to say, in many different ways, how epically horrible the building market is right now. If Republicans & Conservatives don’t possess the ability to read and understand a simple article about housing starts why should anyone listen to their complaints about the stimulus bill?

Posted by Blue Neponset | March 17, 2009 9:46 AMHere is some additional info from the same news article Blue decided to leave out in order to talk about how “really, really, really” bad the news was:

Boosted by an 82% increase in construction of apartment buildings, U.S. housing starts surged 22% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000, the Commerce Department estimated Tuesday.

It was the largest percentage gain in 19 years and was the first increase in eight months in the sector that was at ground zero in the global economic recession. The housing data in winter months are especially volatile because of the weather.
Building permits, which are less volatile than the starts data, rose 3% in February to a 547,000 annual rate. Permits for single-family units rose 11% to a 373,000 rate, the largest percentage gain in 18 years.

“We’re inclined to write this off as a weather-related fluke for now,” wrote economists for Wrightson ICAP. “If the permits series can hold onto its gains in next month’s March report, though, we’ll take it as a sign that new construction has finally found a floor (albeit a very low one).”

“We hold to the view that the level of housing construction is becoming so low in absolute terms that starts will bottom out in the months ahead,” wrote John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics.

Construction of new housing units had plunged 38% in the previous three months before February’s unexpected jump. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a further drop to 456,000, despite an expected surge in multifamily construction.

Hmmm….”largest percentage gain in 19 years and was the first increase in eight months”? Yeah Blue and Adrian, that can certainly be seen as nothing short of “really, really, really” bad news.

To paraphrase Blue… If Democrats & Liberals don’t possess the ability to read and understand a simple article about housing starts why should anyone listen to their complaints about anything? These guys won. Why are they still so incredibly desperate to ignore any sign of progress?

Oh Danny Boy
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