Joining the backlash against House Minority leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) economic speech yesterday, Mark Zandi, Moody's chief economist, said Boehner was "just wrong" to call the $787 billion stimulus spending "a failure."
If there was no stimulus at all, Zandi said, unemployment would be at around 11.5% rather than 9.5%.
"I think if we had not had the stimulus, estimates put forward by the Congressional Budget Office are absolutely right: we'd have 2.5-3 million fewer jobs than we'd have today," he said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing this morning.
What needs to change are people's expectations, he said. "The stimulus did exactly what it was intended to do. It was intended to end the recession, jump-start the economy, and it did that," said Zandi, who has advised both Obama and John McCain in the past.
As Zandi points out, the government spent "a minor amount" of stimulus money in the first quarter, which jumped to $100 billion in the second quarter and another $100 billion in the third quarter.
"It's that key change that provides the economic juice...that's when the recession ended," Zandi said. "This is why the benefits of stimulus are fading, because we've gone from $100 billion in spending to zero."
In another excerpt from the briefing which you can view below, Zandi said unemployment could reach up to 10 percent by November elections.
"We need 150,000 in monthly payroll gains to stabilize unemployment. We're running at 100,000 at best, probably south of that at the moment," he said. "The math, the arithmetic is clear: unemployment is going to rise."
So when can we expect to see those 8 million lost jobs again? "It'll probably take 5 years."
WATCH Zandi's remarks at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast here: