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Tony Fratto: The Magical Stimulus Tour


President Obama and Administration officials have rolled up with the Magical Stimulus Tour Wednesday, touting the benefits of his $860 billion spending bill, signed into law a year ago.

The President's message is simple: "You got everything you need, satisfaction guaranteed."

Yes, well, that's what makes this trip so magical.

I have no complaints about the White House sending out it's people to highlight what it sees as an important achievement, whatever Americans think about it. After the ambitious agenda the President put forward a year ago — changing the politics of Washington, health care reform, closing the detention facility at Guantanamo, cap and trade legislation, financial regulatory reform, reversing the tide of foreclosures — it looks like the stimulus bill is about all they've got right now.

So let's step right up!

The Magical Stimulus Tour actually only continues today. It really began more than a year ago — leaving us an uninterrupted trail of magical promises and predictions along the way.

The incoming Administration made early and rosy predictions about what the fiscal stimulus would accomplish. The President's economic advisors, ignoring evidence of the depth of the economic downturn and the history of tepid job creation in the U.S. following recent recessions, nonetheless predicted the unemployment rate would peak in the summer of 2009.

A year later, all evidence points to an unemployment rate, while declining slightly recently, has probably yet to reach its peak.

The tour continued, picking up a whiff of comedy, devolving to farce, as the White House attempted to demonstrate the magic of numerology in conjuring the number of jobs "saved or created". The magic of numbers resulted in an ever-changing blizzard of confounding and contradictory estimates of job creation, frequently debunked upon further checking by the media — not to mention the creation of imaginary congressional districts.

If the White House accomplished anything magical with this year-long exercise, it was to inject some much needed suspense into the heretofor banal and predictable discipline of counting.

Next on the Magical Tour are demonstrations of the stimulus bill's powers of transmogrification, or shape changing. Whenever needed, the stimulus can be big and quick enough to immediately stave off a great depression, and yet its impact, and most of its spending, was "wisely" timed for 2010.

A twist on alchemy is in the stimulus bill, too. Instead of turning ordinary metals into gold, the stimulus also promises to turn sun and wind into high-paying jobs.

So step up and buy your ticket — the Magical Stimulus Tour is waiting to take you away...

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Tony Fratto is a CNBC on-air contributor and most recently served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for the Bush Administration.