Unemployment is at 8%, and some people are already saying "See? The stimulus is too small!"
I guess they were counting on some kind of magical Stimulus Anticipation Effect to occur before any actual money was spent?
I'm biased; I am deeply skeptical of our government's ability to do just about anything effectively. I'm trying really hard to be optimistic and believe the "government bravely steps into the breach and puts idle resources to productive use" stimulus story. But how will I know whether or not that story is true? I'm biased, so I'll be looking for evidence that the government screwed up, and will tend to ignore evidence that it made things better.
I think I see a way out. On January 10'th the Obama economic team released "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." It contains projections for their best estimates of what the unemployment rate would be with and without the stimulus, from 2009 through 2014.
If the actual unemployment numbers look like their "with stimulus" numbers, I'll revise my opinion.
If the numbers look like their "without stimulus" numbers, then I'll conclude that the stimulus didn't do diddly-squat.
And if the numbers are worse than "without stimulus," then I'll conclude that the stimulus did more harm than good.
Now: if their predictions turn out to be incorrect, the Obama economic team will undoubtedly find all sorts of reasons why they didn't get it right-- they didn't realize the banking crisis was as severe as it is, or they'll blame it on Treasury or Federal Reserve policy, or they didn't realize it would be so darn hard to spend eight hundred billion dollars. All of which might be true, but all of which would reinforce my core belief in the ineffectiveness of Big Government.