9. Clinton states that the TARP stimulus should have been "more vigorously defended in the last election." After the GM and Chrysler bailouts, he said, there are about 75,000 more jobs in the industry, preventing the loss of factories and suppliers that would have cost a million jobs.
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, there were 697,000 people employed in the motor vehicles and parts industry in May, down by almost 400,000 since May 2006. Bronars said that the industry lost 35 percent of its jobs in five years, according to that data.
"Would it have been worse without the bailouts? Possibly. Does that make it sound economic policy?" Bronars said. "No, because the federal government now has to decide which banks and companies are too big to fail, and which will file for bankruptcy without a bailout."
Swagel said the job loss would have been worse without the bailout of GM and Chrysler, "but that alone does not mean the bailouts were wise or successful."
Swagel the impact on the regional economies would have been especially bad in late 2008 and early 2009 when the overall economy was in recession, which makes for a "good case" for the intervention.
But the bailouts have been costly, said Swagel, while he worked at the Treasury until Jan. 20, 2009.
"They saved jobs but the question is whether they were a cost-effective way of doing it. That is not clear yet," Swagel said.
Generally speaking, Rouse said, although the federal budget deficit must be addressed in the medium and long term, this year is not the time for the public sector to contract.
"When the private sector is not fully healthy, the public sector should kick in," she said. "Otherwise, we're going to have a stalled economy.