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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Speaker Boehner Commits Huge Gaffe, Can't Do Simple Arithmetic

Speaker Boehner Commits Huge Gaffe, Can't Do Simple Arithmetic

Saturday, 08 October 2011 09:01

Republican House Speaker John Boehner committed an enormous gaffe yesterday according to a Washington Post article. Mr. Boehner claimed that:

"Our unemployment rate has been higher than 8 percent for more than 21 / 2 years, far above what the Obama administration promised with the ‘stimulus.'”

Actually, the stimulus did not promise to keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent as Mr. Boehner would know if he ever looked at the administration's discussion of its stimulus proposal at the time. The report claimed that the stimulus as proposed would create between 3-4 million jobs by the end of 2010. However, the bill passed by Congress was substantially smaller than the stimulus requested by the president. The expected effect would therefore be in the range of 2-3 million jobs.

However, the economy was in much worse shape than the administration recognized at the time. It expected the unemployment rate to peak at 9.0 percent even without any stimulus. At the time, the economy was losing close to 700,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate had already risen to 9.4 percent by May when the first stimulus related checks were just going out the door.

The best evidence available shows that the stimulus worked almost exactly as planned, creating 2-3 million jobs. However, the economy needed 10-12 million. The Obama administration's error was in underestimating the severity of the downturn, not overpromising for the benefits of the stimulus.

This is apparent to people who can read and know arithmetic. The Washington Post should have highlighted the fact that Mr. Boehner apparently either has difficulty with arithmetic or was deliberately trying to mislead the public.

Comments (5)Add Comment
Glossing over the administration's failure much?
written by Bill H, October 08, 2011 10:56
No question that Boehner's claim was bogus, but aside from the fact that Obama did not make the statement in connection with the "Stimulus Bill" specifically, he did make stements about unemployment remaining below 8%. Republicans have had no good answers, and their ideas have been insane, but glossing over the failures of the Democratic government with a glib, "However, the economy was in much worse shape than the administration recognized at the time," is hardly objective discussion.
But Our Glorious Leaders Don't Make Mistakes!
written by Hugh Sansom, October 08, 2011 11:44
Mainstream media arms of the Republicrats rarely challenge polticians on their lies -- look at the treatment of Bush war criminals. Even the so-called "fact-checkers" like Politifact bend over backwards to come up with stories of how there is "truth" in the lying. They take exactly the opposite tack with official enemies. Wikileaks, Democracy Now, Al Jazeera, etc., must be lying even when they're truthful.
Read the Paper -- Obama did underestimate the severity of the downturn
written by Dean, October 08, 2011 12:39
Bill H,

please look at the paper to which i linked. It's from January of 2009, before Obama took office. The administration clearly underestimated the severity of the downturn.

This is not much of an excuse, they should have figured out their error and corrected it. But the point is that the stimulus did exactly what it was designed to do, it just wasn't decide to address the problem we actually faced.
" the problem we actually faced"
written by Paul, October 08, 2011 1:01
Was the collapse of consumer demand, especially in regard to the housing market.

Obama has done absolutely nothing to reverse the collapse of the housing market because certain economists have applauded that collapse and want it to continue.

I hope you saw the Wash Post photo (p.A15) today of the two children lying on the floor of their foreclosed home in Colorado. Their despair was absolutely palpable and yet nobody cares.
written by Jim In Panama, October 09, 2011 9:08
"Mr. Boehner apparently either has difficulty with arithmetic or was deliberately trying to mislead the public." He just drinks too much. Everyone knows that. Tea Party boys got him basically neutered anyway so he can't do any harm. And he talks funny, so he's nice light entertainment. I wish he'd cry more though, really enjoyed that. Don't know why he's holding back lately. I hope he's not having personal problems. I think he worries too much about the country, he should just pick up his paycheck and chill. Its not like anyone can actually do anything that will make a difference in that ungovernable shithole

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.