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We all know that Republicans managed, in some circles at least, to turn “stimulus” into a dirty word. Missouri Republicans are no exception. A few of them used the third anniversary of the stimulus, along with the presentation of President Obama’s budget, to try to freshen up the tired old refrain they’ve been singing for the past three years.

Here’s senatorial wannabe Todd Akin on the topic:

In 2009, I opposed the ill-fated and now notorious “stimulus” plan. This legislation placed an additional $787 billion atop already record debt levels, without any realistic promise of actual long term job creation or stabilization of our economy. If government spending was truly the answer to our problems, we should now have a booming economy. Despite the Obama spending spree, reported unemployment lingers around 9%, and real unemployment hangs closer to 20%. Spending only makes our economic woes worse

Vicky Hartzler’s statement marking the third anniversary of the stimulus:

Today’s third anniversary of the signing into law of President Obama’s failed stimulus bill should serve as a stark reminder that the President’s policies have failed and are making the economy worse. He told us that with approval of the stimulus our unemployment rate would never reach 8 percent. Sadly, the country’s jobless rate has been above 8 percent for 36 straight months – the longest period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression. The number of Americans on food stamps is at an all time high, while the number of new business start-ups is at a 17-year low. President Obama got the spending he asked for, but the American people never got the jobs they were promised. House Republicans have passed nearly 30 job-creation bills that are being blocked by the Senate. It is time for the Senate to say ‘yes’ to House policies that will create jobs and to say ‘no’ to the President’s tried and failed ideas.

Roy Blunt used the President’s new budget as an opportunity to go after the idea of stimulus as well:

More spending. Higher unemployment. Record debt. That’s what we have to show for the Obama Economy and the so-called “stimulus” debacle.

Notice the differing unemployment baseline above? Nobody’s lying, just trying to finesse the fact that unemployment numbers have been steadily improving and have reached the lowest number in four years – since, in fact, GOP “free market” policies wrecked the economy. Looks mightily like the members of the Grand Old Party might have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into an economic recovery.

What do real economists say about the stimulus and the role it played in saving our bacon? Ezra Klein summarizes several recent efforts to assess the stimulus and finds that they are overwhelmingly thumbs up about the stimulus. Specifically:

The University of Chicago’s Booth business school recently surveyed the nation’s top economists, and the vast majority agreed that the economy would be in worse shape today without the stimulus.

Or, if the University of Chicago isn’t good enough for you, try the Council of Economic Advisor who recently found (pdf) that:

… there would’ve been between 2.2 million and 4.2 million fewer Americans employed if the [stimulus] bill had never passed. (They round up a number of studies from places like the CBO, Moody’s, Goldman Sachs and so forth.)

Klein also offers:

…Dylan Matthew’s comprehensive round-up of nine economic studies of the stimulus bill. Of those, six found a significant positive effect on growth and unemployment, while three found either a small or hard-to-predict effect.

Now I know that the “counter-factual,” as Klein calls it is no more than figures and facts, and as such, carries no weight with the Tea Party Constitutional scholars that Akin, Hartzler, Blunt, et al. are targeting with their, by now, Pavlovian evocations of stimulus, but I know who I believe. And this is why:

The economy is improving whether conservatives like it or not (http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/On-the-Economy/2012/0210/The-economy-is-improving-whether-conservatives-like-it-or-not (The Christian Science monitor)

Bail-Out Politics: Even Michigan’s Economy Is Improving (ABC News: The Note)

U.S. Economic Confidence Best in a Year (Gallup Economy)