Earlier today, we noted the first anniversary of President Obama's economic recovery legislation. Now another stimulus item has caught our eye: An article from The Hill says that according to a recent poll, a ridiculously low number of people think the stimulus actually produced jobs.
A New York Times/CBS poll found that just 6 percent of Americans believe that it created jobs, even though independent economists estimate that it has saved or created more than 1 million jobs.
Think about that. More people believe in ghosts and UFOs (34 percent each). That's pretty astounding, especially when you consider how much money is being spent here. The total cost of the package is $787 billion, most of it borrowed from future generations. (For the record, that's enough to film Ghostbusters 26,000 times.)
Over at the conservative blog Outside the Beltway, James Joyner gleefully writes about the political implications for Obama, but ultimately doesn't see a lot of value in the results of the survey.
These sorts of polls are annoying. Most people simply have no basis for making judgments on technical matters like this; indeed, economists can only take a very educated guess. So, asking Joe Public about such matters is not very helpful.
We disagree. The public might not know much about how this sort of thing is supposed to work, but the poll speaks volumes about their confidence in the government.
This deep distrust has been a part of American politics forever, but particularly since the 1960s. People simply don't believe that government can accomplish much of anything. And that's a problem for a nation that faces so many challenges that require government action.
The fact is that many jobs have been created. That's not to say the stimulus has done enough. It hasn't. But we can't have a real debate about what to do next if so many people don't understand the basics of the situation.