The Graph That Made (Almost) Everyone Hate Deficits

Kevin Drum penned a post last night about why people hate deficits so much. He runs through a few options, but settles on the following:

Liberals have done an abysmal job of explaining why deficits are good during periods of high unemployment, so ordinary citizens have no reason to think deficits are anything other than bad.

I think this all hearkens back to the graph from Obama Administration economists Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer in January 2009 showing the expected unemployment rate with and without the stimulus. American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis has updated the graph with the actual unemployment rate (this is his update from September of last year):RomerBernsteinAugust1

It’s tough to prove that deficit spending in times of high unemployment works when the stimulus seems to have failed so badly. Of course, Bernstein and Romer’s graph was so far off because the economy was much weaker than anyone realized at the time, not because the stimulus failed (it didn’t). But, try telling that to your average person. For most people, that graph is confirmation that deficit spending does not work. That’s a very deep hole for liberals to start in.


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