Here is an interesting graphic.
Geoff at Innocent Bystanders notes that we are on path for unemployment as if there was no stimulus plan. Problem is there is a stimulus plan. So either the initial estimates of the effect of the recession, absent a stimulus plan, were overly optimistic, or the stimulus plan is providing no benefit at all. I think we know which explanation President Obama and his Administration are going to rely on.
Now, all snarkiness aside as Greg Mankiw notes, with a shifting baseline projection there is absolutely no way to judge President Obama’s policies as a success or failure. Now this isn’t something inherent in Obama Administration, but is a problem with administrations of all Presidents. No President will set up objective standards by which we can judge their policies as successes or failures. And when out campaigning every policy put in place by a given President is always a success, never a failure.