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April 9th, 2012 1:03 pm
Obama’s Spending vs. Canada’s Cuts

It’s been said by some supporters of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus spending spree that we can’t really know if it failed because we can’t ‘re-run’ the last three years to see if something else might have worked.

But according to economist John Lott, we don’t have to.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Caller about his new book, , Lott compares the different approaches by the liberals in Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We can Do Now to Regain Our Future the Obama White House and the conservatives running Canada’s government.  The results aren’t pretty.

How do we know the stimulus package made the economic situation worse?

Compare the U.S. and Canada. Their unemployment rates increased in lock step from August 2008 until six months later, in February 2009, when the stimulus was passed in the United States. During those six months, the U.S. unemployment rate rose by 2.1 percentage points, from 6.1 percent to 8.2 percent, and the Canadian rate grew by 1.9 percentage points, from 5.1 percent to 7 percent (using the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] measure to make the Canadian measure of unemployment comparable to the U.S. rate). The graph that we have showing this is actually stunning.

Canada adopted a much smaller and quite different “stimulus” program that emphasized cutting tax rates and regulations and that produced dramatically smaller deficits. On a per-capita basis, Canada’s stimulus was about a third that of America’s, costing $979 per person compared to our $2,730. The conservative Canadian government chose not to introduce any big programs.

Obama, meanwhile, adopted big-ticket Keynesian programs, believing that government spending for its own sake creates wealth. But Democratic emphasis on “green” energy, government-approved investments and technology and higher salaries for public-school teachers merely moved money away from where Americans and companies would have otherwise spent it.

Obama’s stimulus also raised the effective marginal tax rates that some individuals face, discouraging work; Canada, by contrast, cut some marginal rates. Obama kept the corporate tax rate stuck at 35 percent, while Canadians cut their corresponding rate from 21 percent in 2007 to 16.5 percent this year — with a further cut to 15 percent planned for next year. By last year, Canada had the lowest overall tax rate on business investment of any major industrialized country.

Canada also didn’t run the huge stimulative deficits that we ran here in the U.S. They didn’t saddle their kids with a huge debt that they were going to have to pay off.

But if Obama’s program — including a massive 21 percent hike in spending from 2008 to 2011 and corresponding massive deficits — worked so well, why has our unemployment rate risen more since those policies were adopted than have the rates of the European Union, South America, Japan, Australia or New Zealand?

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