Try to wrap your head around this one (which is actually an old argument) from White House adviser Valerie Jarrett: according to her, unemployment checks — in some round about way — are actually “good for” and “stimulate” the economy:
Jarrett delivered the remarks at North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina.
“Even though we had a terrible economic crisis three years ago, throughout our country many people were suffering before the last three years, particularly in the black community,” Jarrett said. “And so we need to make sure that we continue to support that important safety net. It not only is good for the family, but it’s good for the economy. People who receive that unemployment check go out and spend it and help stimulate the economy, so that’s healthy as well.”
While the audio may sound incredible, the argument has been paraded out before. In August, Press Secretary Jay Carney said nearly the same thing:
“It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money directly into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren’t running a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They’re not going to save it, they’re going to spend it. And with unemployment insurance, that way, the money goes directly back into the economy, dollar for dollar virtually.”
Bryan Preston took Carney to task at the time:
Here’s the thing. True, unemployment pays people money and they’re likely to spend it. But you’re also paying people not to work. Not to produce anything. The longer you pay them to not work, the longer they’re likely not to work. And the money to pay people not to work has to come from somewhere. Guess where (besides Jay Carney’s back side)?
That’s right — from people who are working, being productive, and who also are likely to spend the money. While unemployment insurance of some form and length is reasonable, the notion that it creates jobs is laughable on a Seinfeldian level. It’s a safety net, not an engine of our economic might.
Put it this way: If Carney’s logic held up, we should just carpet bomb the country in unemployment checks, forever. That would create a billion jobs and we’d all be swimming in prosperity.
Then just a week later, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack went on MSNBC to make the case that food stamps are job creators:
Back then, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey did a good job pointing out the flaws in that logic:
So here’s the question. If food stamps create jobs, like Vilsack says here, and we’re putting record numbers of Americans on food stamps, then why aren’t we seeing record job creation? If every dollar spent on food stamps creates $1.84 in production, as Vilsack argues, and the number of food stamp recipients keeps rising, then why haven’t the GDP numbers reflected that fabulous growth?
It makes you wonder, why is the White House trumpeting an argument from the fall that was so heavily ridiculed?
(H/T: Weekly Standard)
This story has been update.