CNN Money:

What makes the current 9.5% unemployment rate look good?

How about one that reaches 16.5%? A paper by Moody's economist Mark Zandi and Princeton University scholar Alan Blinder contends we would have reached that threshold had the government not poured trillions of dollars into the economy after the financial meltdown of 2008.

The paper, called "How the Great Recession Was Brought to an End," uses a Moody's Analytics framework to sketch out what might have happened if the Treasury failed to bail out the banks, Congress failed to pass a stimulus program and the Federal Reserve decided not to flood the economy with cash in late 2008.

Though the true costs and benefits of these moves can't possibly be measured, count Zandi and Blinder as supporters of the efforts led by policymakers including Fed chief Ben Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and current Treasury head Tim Geithner, then at the New York Fed.

Their dedication to countering the collapse of private spending saved 8.5 million jobs, more than a trillion dollars of economic output and the economy itself, they contend.

"We find that its effects on real GDP, jobs, and inflation are huge," Blinder and Zandi write, "and probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0."

Really, the GOP cannot return to power at this or any other future moment. The Dems have to make it clear to Americans that the situation should be, and can still be, much worse. The GOP's economic program is nothing but hot ideological air.