2008 Memo Shows Stimulus was About Implementing Obama’s Agenda, and More


Larry Summers wrote a 57 page memo to then President-elect Obama on the stimulus package in December of 2008 which James Pethokoukis pointed out is very revealing. Among other things, it shows that the stimulus was about implementing Obama’s agenda and they knew that running up the deficit was a dangerous course.

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1. The stimulus was about implementing the Obama agenda.

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The short-run economic imperative was to identify as many campaign promises or high priority items that would spend out quickly and be inherently temporary. …  The stimulus package is a key tool for advancing clean energy goals and fulfilling a number of campaign commitments.

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2. Team Obama knows these deficits are dangerous (although it has offered no long-term plan to deal with them).

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Closing the gap between what the campaign proposed and the estimates of the campaign offsets would require scaling back proposals by about $100 billion annually or adding new offsets totaling the same. Even this, however, would leave an average deficit over the next decade that would be worse than any post-World War II decade. This would be entirely unsustainable and could cause serious economic problems in the both the short run and the long run.

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3. Obamanomics was pricier than advertised.

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Your campaign proposals add about $100 billion per year to the deficit largely because rescoring indicates that some of your revenue raisers do not raise as much as the campaign assumed and some of your proposals cost more than the campaign assumed. … Treasury estimates that repealing the tax cuts above $250,000 would raise about $40 billion less than the campaign assumed. … The health plan is about $10 billion more costly than the campaign estimated and the health savings are about $25 billion lower than the campaign estimated.

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Read the whole thing, there are eight more bullet points.

Via Doug Ross