Buried in this week’s New York Times Magazine profile of Obama is this little nugget.
…Obama aides, liberal and moderate alike, reject complaints from the right that the stimulus did not help the economy or that health care expands government too much, as well as complaints from the left that he should have pushed for a bigger stimulus package or held out for a public health care option. “We asked for more stimulus than we ended up with,” Larry Summers, the outgoing national economics adviser, told me. “But we fought as hard as we could, and I believe we got as much as Congress was ever going to give us at that time.”
That’s simply not true, if this profile of Summers in the New Yorker was accurate.
…Romer’s analysis, deeply informed by her work on the Depression, suggested that the package should probably be more than $1.2 trillion. The memo to Obama, however, detailed only two packages: a five-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar stimulus and an eight-hundred-and-ninety-billion-dollar stimulus. Summers did not include Romer’s $1.2-trillion projection. The memo argued that the stimulus should not be used to fill the entire output gap; rather, it was “an insurance package against catastrophic failure.”
They didn’t fight as hard as they could, they got pretty much what they wanted.