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Jackie Calmes Won't Grade Obama on Economy: 'It's Too Early to Say...'

Washington reporter Jackie Calmes grades the Obama administration on a very generous curve: "...most economists who aren't partisan think we will avoid a double-dip recession, but, and that the stimulus did work, but it, you know - maybe should have been more of it, or better designed."
It's one thing for the Obama administration to refuse to admit that throwing more than $800 billion in so-called "stimulus" at the recession hasn't worked. But on Friday night's Washington Week roundtable on PBS, Times national correspondent Jackie Calmes accepted the idea that "it's too early to say" how Team Obama should be graded while unemployment remains high. That's called charitable procrastination:

NANCY YOUSSEF, McCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS: So how would you rank or rate the administration on its economic policy? Can you give it a rating this soon, or is it too early to say?

JACKIE CALMES: Well, it's too early to say when unemployment remains stuck at 9.5 percent. Most people think that - most economists who aren't partisan think we will avoid a double-dip recession, but, and that the stimulus did work, but it, you know - maybe should have been more of it, or better designed.

A few seconds earlier, Calmes complained that after the "stimulus" bill passed, "things worked so slowly that people still to this day think it was a failure."

TOM GJELTEN, NPR: Jackie, there were some pretty vigorous policy debates and even disagreements in this administration between some of those figures, Peter Orszag, Christina Romer and Larry Summers. Do we have any sense of what remains sort of unresolved in terms of policy challenges, economic policy challenges they're going to be facing decisions that are going to have to be made now?

CALMES: Well, they've been balancing from nearly the start of this administration after they got out the big stimulus package in the first 28 days of the administration. Over time, and because things worked so slowly that people still to this day think it was a failure, that the public has increasingly not wanted to support a lot of it and with the Republicans voting in block against anything that's additional stimulus. So within the administration, you had debates over how to balance this - whether the economy needs more stimulus, what kind, how much, versus the need to sort of look like, in the medium term and down the line, you are aware that you have to start bringing down deficits.

Calmes is a long-time defender of Obama's stimulus plan, constantly promoting the idea that all mainstream economists support it and think it is succeeding

- Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.