Obama took a tremendous economic and political gamble last January. The new president had the option of putting forward a stimulus plan that would attempt to reverse or significantly dampen America’s terrible economic downturn ASAP. The quickest and most effective approach would have been a big cut in payroll taxes.There was a lot of rhetoric about how serious the economic problems were, but in retrospect, it seems to have been mostly rhetoric. The focus of the Obama administration has not been on getting out of the recession as quickly as possible. They have had other priorities. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Instead, Obama chose to listen to Rahm “Never let a crisis go to waste” Emanuel and put forward an $800 billion plan that advanced his healthcare, energy and education policy goals — but pretty much neglected the economy in 2009. Team Obama had to fully understand this.
The gamble appears to have failed miserably, both economically and politically.
Update: Arnold Kling argues that the "Obama Administration appears to me to be pursuing many goals, poorly." In a year and a half we will see if their failure to prioritize costs them.