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In his first two years in office, Democrats gave Mr. Obama everything he wanted, save for cap and trade and union card-check, which would have done even more harm to job creation. They passed stimulus, ObamaCare, multiple housing bailouts, Dodd-Frank and more.
Even after Republicans took the House, they gave Mr. Obama the payroll tax holiday he demanded first for 2011 and again for 2012. Far from some new fiscal “austerity,” overall federal spending hasn’t declined. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has delivered monetary stimulus after stimulus—QE I, QE II, Operation Twist, and 42 months of near-zero interest rates with the promise of 30 months more.
Mr. Obama has had the freest run of policy of any President since LBJ. So maybe the problem is the policies.
Maybe Milton Friedman was right that “temporary, targeted” tax cuts don’t change the incentives to invest or hire because people aren’t stupid. Maybe each $1 of new federal spending doesn’t produce a “multiplier” of 1.5 times that in added output. Maybe the historic burst of regulation of the last three years has harmed business confidence and job creation. And maybe the uncertainty that comes from helter-skelter fiscal and monetary policy has dampened the animal spirits needed for a durable expansion.
As I said yesterday, though no president or Congress is entirely to blame for the state of the economy, they both can do great harm if they make decisions that interfere with the freedom of the market. And sadly, having the government interfere with the freedom of the market has been Obama’s mantra since the day he took office.