President Obama at White House news conference, Oct. 6, 2011.
President Obama at White House news conference, Oct. 6, 2011. Susan Walsh/AP
At his Thursday news conference, President Obama gave reporters an assignment. Go ask independent economists whose job creation plan, his or the congressional Republicans, would have the most immediate effect.
Like a trial lawyer who asks a witness a question to which the attorney already knows the answer, the president exuded confidence when he put this challenge to the journalists.
Jackie Calmes at the New York Times followed up and found that the president's sureness wasn't misplaced.
Mr. Obama said that while he agreed with some of the Republicans' proposals — for example, he recently sent three trade bills to Congress for its approval — he said they would not help the economy in the short term. Economists at private-sector forecasting firms agreed.
While economic forecasts are not definitive, in that they are predictions, Macroeconomic Advisers, a St. Louis-based firm that the Federal Reserve often uses, has projected that the Obama jobs plan could increase economic growth by 1.25 percentage points and add 1.3 million jobs in 2012. Moody's Analytics, another firm, has estimated it would add two percentage points and up to 1.9 million jobs.
Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, said Republicans had "reasonable ideas" but not ones that could be measured by the firm's forecasting model. He said he believed the proposals "would have little immediate effect relative to a plan that stimulates aggregate demand" — that is, a plan like Mr. Obama's, with tax cuts and spending programs.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, similarly said the Republican proposals "are generally good longer-term economic policy, but they won't mean much for the economy and job market in the next year." He continued: "Given the high odds of another recession in the next few months, it is vital for Congress and the administration to provide some near-term support to the economy."