When President Obama stands before Congress on Thursday
to lay out his new ideas for the improving the economy, he will face a daunting task. Job growth ground to a halt
in August, unemployment remains above 9 percent, and the president's approval ratings have fallen to around 40 percent
. How much blame does Obama deserve for the bleak position the country is in?
For the last year or so, a debate has unfolded about where--and whether--the president's policies went wrong in trying to revive the economy. The implications are anything but academic.
The latest volley took place over the past couple of weeks, when Bloomberg View's Jonathan Alter
and the Washington Post
's Ezra Klein
each called on Obama's critics, on the left and the right, to get specific about what they would have done differently if they were the president. In response, David Frum
, who served as a speechwriter for President Bush but lately has been sharply critical of the Republican Party, and Mickey Kaus
, a self-described contrarian liberal who blogs for the conservative Daily Caller website, took up the challenge. And in response to that, Jared Bernstein
, a former top economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, pushed back against Frum's criticisms.
What are Obama's critics suggesting he should have done to improve the economy? And what's the evidence that their favored approaches would have been more effective?