A good catch from Noah Smith:
Noahpinion: Greg Mankiw thinks Obama's stimulus worked: Greg Mankiw's August 8 appearance on Larry Kudlow. At 3:27, Mankiw says:
Fiscal policy is going to be a drag going forward as the stimulus wears out…
So what Mankiw seems to be saying is that the Obama stimulus increased economic growth. Note that Mankiw has stated numerous times that he is a "stimulus skeptic." In general, he has been coy on the subject. On one hand, he has never claimed outright (as have many prominent "neoclassical" economists) that stimulus is incapable of boosting growth, and he has extolled the virtue of tax cuts (though he has left it unclear whether he believes they work via demand-side effects). But he has also said that he doesn't think Obama's stimulus was very effective, and he linked uncritically to a paper that purported to show that the stimulus destroyed jobs overall. Now, Mankiw seems to have revealed that, like John Taylor, he's a closet Keynesian… or, at least, that his views on the effects of government spending on growth are more nuanced than he usually admits. And by saying that the stimulus will soon "wear out," he is also admitting that his concern that "a spending-based stimulus to address the current short-term crisis might lead to a long-term increase in the size of government" was overblown.
As Bob Lucas once said, "I guess everyone is a Keynesian in a foxhole." We're certainly in a foxhole right now…
The lesson I draw from this? That if you want to dodge and weave so that you can play on Team Republican (or Team Democrat) in pursuit of high federal office, you had better have a very, very good memory. If you don't, you may get yourself caught on video saying something that you believe but that you have been trying very hard not to say for years.
Life is a lot simpler if you just say what you think is going on--and why--all the time. For what good is it to attain high federal office if while you are there you spend your time shilling for policies you think are potentially disastrous--like Medicare Part D?