The Spectacle Blog

More Regrets Over Cash for Clunkers, Homebuyer Tax Credit

By on 11.7.11 | 2:16PM

At the Washington Post's liberal Wonkblog, Brad Plumer evinces regret over some of the 2009 stimulus measures: 

The bleak news is that home and auto sales are still weak. New home construction is still at its lowest level since 1963. Sales of cars and light trucks have ticked up somewhat over the past few years, but are still solidly below pre-recession levels. The two big stimulus policies that Congress experiment with for these sectors - "cash for clunkers" and the first-time home buyer tax credit - mostly just seemed to shift the timing of sales slightly rather than increase overall levels. 

It's not quite right to suggest that Congress "experiment[ed] with" these programs. More accurately, they were Democratic programs that Republicans opposed because they predicted they would fail. As liberals slowly come to grips with the stark reality that these particular stimulus programs made things worse, they're ignoring why the mistake was made in the first place. The problem wasn't that a congressional "experiment" went wrong or that the administration failed to appreciate the severity of the recession. Instead, it was that experts thought they had a government solution to a problem when they simply didn't. Still, nice to see this honest acknowledgment from Plumer.  

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