The graph over there on the right is what the Obama folks predicted would happen if we did or didn't pass the stimulus.
Well, it sure looks like they screwed up. Maybe they underestimated how big the recession was going to be. Maybe they underestimated how long it would take $800,000,000,000 to work its way into the economy. Maybe they're spending the money on the wrong things. Maybe printing lots of money and spending it isn't actually a good way to create a healthy economy.
I'm a stimulus skeptic-- I don't think that even the smartest, wisest, best-est politicians and economists in the world can micro-manage the economy to keep inflation low, growth high, ensure that everybody stays employed in a well-paying secure job, and keep America's vital industries (steel, automaking, corn-growing, defense-contracting...) robust forever. You can't micro-manage complex systems; instead, you have to create feedback loops so that the system is self-regulating and so that it evolves in a positive direction.
Maybe our tribal origins make us want to believe that a Wise Leader can help us take a Great Leap Forward, even though that hasn't worked out very well in the past:
The official toll of excess deaths recorded in China for the years of the Great Leap Forward is 14 million, but scholars have estimated the number of famine victims to be between 20 and 43 million.The stimulus and bailouts and spending won't kill millions of people, at least not as directly as China's experiment with central control of the economy. But those policies are, I think, making millions of Americans a little poorer.