Some people are hoping that President Obama's plan will get the economy out of the doldrums and start providing jobs for the unemployed. Others are hoping that the Republicans' plan will do the trick. Those who are truly optimistic hope that Democrats and Republicans will both put aside their partisanship and do what is best for the country.
Almost nobody seems to hope the government will leave the economy alone to recover on its own. Indeed, almost nobody seems at all interested in looking at the hard facts about what happens when the government leaves the economy alone, compared to what happens when politicians intervene.
The grand myth that's been taught to whole generations is that the government is "forced" to intervene when there is a downturn that leaves millions of people suffering. The classic example is the Great Depression of the 1930s. What most people are unaware of is there was no Great Depression until after politicians started meddling in the economy.
There was a stock market crash in October 1929 and unemployment shot up to 9% — for one month. Then unemployment started drifting back down until it was 6.3% in June 1930, when the first major federal intervention took place. That was the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill, which more than a thousand economists across the country pleaded with Congress and President Hoover not to enact.