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Left/Right bloggers agree on recession, split on "stimulus":

In this week's National Journal poll of leading political bloggers, the Left and Right have similar views on how much longer the recession will continue. A plurality expect 13-23 months. Zero expect less than six months. About a quarter expect 7-12 months, and about a third expect 24 months or longer. I was in the latter group, and wrote, "Like FDR/Hoover, Obama is pursuing policies that may deepen and extend the economic problem in the long run."

Would it be good if Republicans supported the "stimulus"? Left bloggers were evenly split, whereas Right bloggers unanimously said "no." I voted No, "For the same reason it would be desirable not to have significant Democratic support: borrowing an extra trillion dollars a year and spending much of it on pork is a continuation of the reckless borrowing and irresponsible spending (at both the federal and the personal level) that got us into this mess in the first place."

Richard Riley (mail):
I've got questions about the stimulus/spending bill myself, but I would say this: At least under the Obama administration's approach, we've got a big bill directly in front of us that people like Dave Kopel, Martin Feldstein (see his op-ed a day or two ago), and plenty of other smart doubters can shoot at directly.

The problem with the budget bloat in the Tom DeLay/George W. Bush era is that it was completely sneaky. It built up slowly, was never publicly acknowledged (indeed the Republicans insisted "Spending? There's no spending going on here. We're Republicans!") and indeed was pretty damn secretive, and we ended up in a very bad place.

So yes, let's take a very hard look at the stimulus bill. In fact this morning it's being reported that the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee himself, Conrad, is asking Obama to try to keep pure pork out of the bill - I hope that happens. But let's also acknowledge the Obama people are doing this a hell of a lot more honestly than the DeLay/Bush Republicans.
1.31.2009 8:57am
RPT (mail):
Spending itself is not the issue. During the Delay era, spending was good because it was generally for R/Con priorities. Spending now is bad because it is more for D priorities and, as the leader of the R party, Mr. Limbaugh, has declared, it if successful D's will properly get credit. Therefore, the proper R/Con position is to oppose it.
1.31.2009 9:25am
paul lukasiak (mail):
The problem, of course, is that this isn't a "stimulus" bill at all -- its mostly Obama using the economic crisis to fulfill a bunch of campaign promises.
_
As to "not including pork", the fact is that in most cases "pork" is probably the very definition of an effective economic stimulus -- most "pork" contains a strong element of job creation, and job creation is the key to economic recovery. Complaining about "pork" being in a stimulus bill is like complaining about ice cream being in a ice cream sundae.
_
but the real issue is that the economy doesn't need stimulation, it needs stability, retrenchment, and recovery. You don't push down the accelerator when a car's drive shaft is broken, because more gas isn't going to get the car moving again.
_
To the extent that Obama's proposals (accidentally?) wind up performing what is needed (reinforcing the social safety net while preventing massive layoffs in state and local governments that have to balance their budgets when there is more demand for services and less tax revenue available) its not a bad idea.
_
Not bad except for the unnecessary and unwise tax breaks, relatively little of which will have any impact on helping the US economy recover. Most of any tax breaks will be used to pay down debt, spent on imported goods, or wind up in the pockets of people who already control most of the wealth of this country. For eight years we've lived well beyond our means as a nation, and its time to recognize that the structural deficits brought about by the Bush tax cuts are unsustainable -- and adding to the deficit by providing more tax cuts is simply insane.
1.31.2009 9:33am
just me (mail):
The problem with this bill is that it has spending that has nothing to do with stimulus, it is a "we are in charge, let's use the recession as an excuse to fund pet projects" democratic spending spree.

I think when it comes to spending in the stimulus, if you have to jump through 15 hoops to somehow get to how the spending is stimulus, it doesn't belong in the bill.

Some of the spending may be for a good reason or a good cause, but it should be proposed in a bill for its own merit, not dressed up as stimulus.

And I really don't care what republicans did-they spent too much money, but they aren't in charge now, and poor spending discipline in the past doesn't mean they should continue to spend-the answer to bad behavior is to stop doing it.

At some point the "well the GOP did it too" excuse just isn't going to fly. The democrats have owned congress for 2 years and now they own the white house, and if they want stimulus, then maybe they should actually propose a bill that is limited to stimulus and not pet projects.
1.31.2009 10:43am
paul lukasiak (mail):
At some point the "well the GOP did it too" excuse just isn't going to fly. The democrats have owned congress for 2 years and now they own the white house, and if they want stimulus, then maybe they should actually propose a bill that is limited to stimulus and not pet projects.
_
I don't think that the argument is "the GOP did it too", rather its "when the GOP did it, the Republicans didn't have a problem with it."
_
but more to the point, while your "wait until later to fund good projects that don't belong in a stimulus bill" is a great idea in a perfect world, the world is far from perfect.
_
Indeed, its a "bait and switch" world, in which the GOP will advocate for deficit creating tax cuts as a "stimulus", then turn around and oppose worthwhile initiatives based on the fact that our deficits are too large.
_
In other words, the GOP cannot be trusted to act in good faith (I mean, for crying out loud, 1/3 of the 'stimulus' bill is tax cuts put into to assuage the GOP, and yetthere was not one Republican vote in the House), and absent their willingness to not use Democratic initiatives to score political points later on, the "smart" way to get them passed is to throw them into a stimulus package.
1.31.2009 10:57am
The River Temoc (mail):
borrowing an extra trillion dollars a year and spending much of it on pork is a continuation of the reckless borrowing and irresponsible spending (at both the federal and the personal level) that got us into this mess in the first place.

Pork was not what fundamentally got us into this mess in the first place. An emphasis on home ownership at all costs (something that Democrats do indeed share the blame for), coupled with lax regulation of exotic financial products and the tranching of CMOs, deserve most of the blame.
1.31.2009 11:29am
loki13 (mail):
There is a basic problem here-

1. The GOP in the House voted as a bloc to oppose the bill. This meant that they were not free to vote their personal ideology, but it was forced as a 'party line' measure.

2. They did this after Obama (specifically) and the Democratic-contorlled house (in general) put in provisions to attempt to be more bi-partisan.
a. Note that this was not necessary, because in the House, the Democrats could simply force through the measure, as they did.
b. Note that they now lose all credibility at even attempting to make an argument for bi-partisanship; in short, even though there was an attempt to leave some of the rancor in the past, the GOP refused to follow along.

3. As an example of the 2 (one of many) you can focus on the tax cuts. Despite the Obama team's analysis that tax cuts would not be an efficient stimulus (as opposed to spending) in terms of their multiplicative effects on the economy (for reasons outlined by other posters such as Paul, including the need of people to pay off debt), they included them specifically to provide bi-partisan cover for the GOP.

4. Had their not been this straight party line vote, the GOP could still allow their members to vote their conscience; allowing even some members to vote in favor of the bill had several benefits:
a) Members whose districts were ambivalent or believed that it might help could vote for it.
b) Members whose districts were against it could vote against it while enjoying the penumbra of "the bi-partisan efforts".
c) In the future, the GOP is likely to continue to be consulted and get some input, instead of ignored and shut out.

Remember- olive branches are only extended so many times. The GOP in the senate has more moderate members (at least 5) so filis aren't an option; the GOP in the house is powerless without a deliberate effort by the Democrats to be inclusive. There is an attempt to undo the DeLay years right now. It would be a mistake to return to them.
1.31.2009 12:32pm
BGates:
The current financial crisis is a Democrat party catastrophe. Dodd and Conrad took bribes from the mortgage industry, Clinton staffers stole millions from Fannie/Freddie, Barney Frank was literally in bed with a Fannie Mae executive. Obama never said a word about Democrat corruption in DC, same as he kept his mouth shut in Chicago. He's happy to work with Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines and all the rest of the crooks in his party.

Bush was terrible on spending, but the only opposition he had to spending was from within his own party. The enormous prescription drug benefit wasn't enacted over protests of Democrats who wanted to spend money on something else, it was over protests of Democrats who wanted to spend more money.

Saying that "At least under the Obama administration's approach, we've got a big bill directly in front of us" is the kind of damnation with faint praise this administration deserves. I bet the nation will rally behind the slogan, "OBAMA: modestly better in some respects than the guy we've said for eight years was the worst ever". At what point during his inaugural pledge to spend wisely did he mention he'd be dropping a 700 page trillion dollar demand on the House and expecting a vote within a week?

even though there was an attempt to leave some of the rancor in the past, the GOP refused to follow along. James Carville would be embarrassed at this much partisanship. President "I won, so turn your radio dial where I tell you" started the rancor back up in his first week. I hope they're all party line votes. I'm perfectly happy to let you guys own the results.
1.31.2009 1:08pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
1. The GOP in the House voted as a bloc to oppose the bill. This meant that they were not free to vote their personal ideology, but it was forced as a 'party line' measure.
And the Democrats weren't under just as much pressure?
2. They did this after Obama (specifically) and the Democratic-contorlled house (in general) put in provisions to attempt to be more bi-partisan.
a. Note that this was not necessary, because in the House, the Democrats could simply force through the measure, as they did.
b. Note that they now lose all credibility at even attempting to make an argument for bi-partisanship; in short, even though there was an attempt to leave some of the rancor in the past, the GOP refused to follow along.
I don't know what world you are living in, but there is almost nothing in the bill that a conservative could accept. Sure, maybe some of the infrastructure, but that is such a minor part of the bill as to be insignificant. Of the trillion+ dollars (if you include some of the interest), I would be interested in your identification of exactly how much of that was put in there at the behest of the Republicans.

Rather, what really happened is that Pelosi et al. essentially ignored almost ALL Republican input. The bipartisanship was "we'll listen to you, but we won, so deal with it".
3. As an example of the 2 (one of many) you can focus on the tax cuts. Despite the Obama team's analysis that tax cuts would not be an efficient stimulus (as opposed to spending) in terms of their multiplicative effects on the economy (for reasons outlined by other posters such as Paul, including the need of people to pay off debt), they included them specifically to provide bi-partisan cover for the GOP.
Most of the "tax cuts" are no such thing, but rather transfers to those who don't pay taxes in the form of refundable tax credits. The Republicans were asking for the types of tax cuts that have worked in the past, such as for dividends, capital gains, etc., and didn't get them. So, it is frankly silly to expect that calling refundable tax credits to those who don't pay taxes the type of tax cuts that most Republicans would support. It is better than nothing, but by only 5%.
Remember- olive branches are only extended so many times. The GOP in the senate has more moderate members (at least 5) so filis aren't an option; the GOP in the house is powerless without a deliberate effort by the Democrats to be inclusive. There is an attempt to undo the DeLay years right now. It would be a mistake to return to them.
The suggestion is plain silly. Pelosi made less of an effort to be inclusive here than did DeLay, and that wasn't by much.

What you seem to be ignoring is that this bill was pretty much written by the Democratic old guard in the House, with no input really accepted from the Republicans. Indeed, they really didn't take into that much account the views of their new President.
1.31.2009 1:32pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
What will be interesting is to see the bill when it comes back. The Democrats in the Senate do not have the sort of total control they have in the House, and are used to working together more. It will be interesting to see how much of the junk is stripped out, as compared to how much more pork is shoved in. And then, we shall see if any Republicans in the House can be enticed to support it. My guess is that few will defect. But we shall see.
1.31.2009 1:37pm
loki13 (mail):
Bruce,

I think you mistake my analysis. I am making a *political* analysis. You can argue that the bill, on the merits, is *bad*. Certainly there is room for respectful disagreement there. What I think is short-sighted on the part of the House GOP is the enforced party discipline. IOW, the Democrats did not have to give anything. They did (while the tax cuts were not exactly what the GOP wanted, they were far more than they had originally hope for- and that is just one example). In the future, had this been a 'vote the conscience' type thing, with even a few GOP defections, then as a politcal matter there would have been continued cover for the 'bi-partisan' angle, while the substantive outcome (bill passage) would have been the same, and future bills would more likely feature GOP input. It's hard to overplay the first element- while those house members that are left are in relatively 'safe' GOP districts, if the GOP wants to be competitive in the remaining lean-GOP/swing/lean-Democratic districts, they need to attract people other than the base, and this is probably not the way to do it.

BGates,

You lost me at 'Democrat party'. I will assume your analysis is as unwise as your word choice.
1.31.2009 1:47pm
Sagar:
loki13,

even as a political argument, what you say doesn't hold much water. the republicans in the House voted against a pork laden bill - why do you assume they were forced? because ALL of them were against it? the fact that some Dems voted against it should show that this was a left dominated spending plan.

a 670 page bill is voted on in less than a week after the new president swears in. how long was the discussion or debate in the House? do you think all the Reps actually read the darn thing? forcing a vote after a day or two on such a monstrocity is "extending an olive branch"?

and 1/3 of it is on tax cuts? more like tax credits to people who are not actually paying income taxes. is this what Obama promised when he said he will give tax cuts to 95% of Americans? come on ... you are not that naive.

The repubs who support this will do it at their peril, since they get no credit from the Dems at the polls (as it should be) and will not be supported by the repub base. so the right thing to do is for repub senators to oppose this (from their political perspective, as well as from the economic one for the country). just because Bush pushed everyone into the 700 billion boondogle is not a justification for everyone to support another trillion dollar fiasco.
1.31.2009 2:31pm
RPT (mail):
"just me:

The problem with this bill is that it has spending that has nothing to do with stimulus, it is a "we are in charge, let's use the recession as an excuse to fund pet projects" democratic spending spree."

As contrasted with "let's use the 'War On Terror' as an excuse to fund pet projects....
1.31.2009 2:39pm
josh:
"borrowing an extra trillion dollars a year and spending much of it on pork is a continuation of the reckless borrowing and irresponsible spending (at both the federal and the personal level) that got us into this mess in the first place."

Since when was a foreign war costing billings a month and unregulated credit default swaps pork?
1.31.2009 2:56pm
Sarcastro (www):
the fact that some Dems voted against it should show that this was a left dominated spending plan.

But the fact that NO Republicans voted against it also shows that this was far left!

Also, Obama if far left.

If the Senate passes the bill, the Senate will also be far left.

If the Senate doesn't pass the bill, it's still far left, AND it's leftism is why this Country continues to spiral down the drain.
1.31.2009 2:56pm
loki13 (mail):
Sagar,

I won't respond to most of your email, since it:
a) contains invective (I don't particularly feel that I am naive)
b) reiterates the argument that the bill is *bad*, which is not really germane to the point I was making.

However, I will point out that you ask:


why do you assume they were forced? because ALL of them were against it?


Well, no one knows what evil lurks in the heart of our legislators. However, we do know this:
a) Some GOP House members received specific requests in the bill.
b) Obama is currently very popular.
c) The idea of fiscal stimulus, while unpopular with the true base of the GOP, is popular with swing voters.

It follows that had there not been enforced party discipline, there likely would have been a few defections as there are on almost every bill (contrast digital television, contrast the Democratic vote for the stimulus bill).

Or.... you can believe that every one of the GOP legislators have suddenly found the wherewithal to decry deficit spending. A pity they're reverse Keynesians- run up the deficits when we're growing, try to shrink 'em when we're in recession.
1.31.2009 3:03pm
SG:
c) The idea of fiscal stimulus, while unpopular with the true base of the GOP, is popular with swing voters.


Is this true? Last poll I saw had the stimulus polling at 42%, and I believe it had strong Democratic support. To be polling at only 42% w/ strong Democratic support implies low support with Republican &independents.

But perhaps I'm misinformed. What polling have you seen that says the stimulus is popular with swing voters?
1.31.2009 3:34pm
just me (mail):
I don't think that the argument is "the GOP did it too", rather its "when the GOP did it, the Republicans didn't have a problem with it."
_


Actually this isn't so true-if by republicans you mean the republican voter. You get no arguments from me that the GOP spent too much, but, the GOP even at it's worst didn't create a trillion dollar bill full of port. Even the Iraq and Afghanistan wars haven't cost this much.

As contrasted with "let's use the 'War On Terror' as an excuse to fund pet projects....

Actually this isn't a bad comparison, and if pretty apt IMO, but then look again where that kind of "this is an emergency and we must pass the bill NOW!" got the GOP. It ended up killing the party. I think the democrats might do well to heed that comparison.

This IMO is a bad bill. You can make the argument that stimulus might be necessary, but this bill is not a stimulus bill it is a spending bill dressed up with the "word" stimulus and little else.
1.31.2009 3:56pm
Nick056:
In re David Post's original post, I'm a little surprised that 1/3 of all bloggers polled felt the recession would last another 24 months. That would mean the recession spans from Oct. '07 -- Jan '11, which would mean, probably, a failure of the stock market to rally until five or so months prior to that date. Given the depth of the recession, that is a very, very dire prediction. I wonder if one idealogical group is disproportionately represented in that prediction?

The current scenario suggests, for better or worse, that if in the summer of 2010 the stock market has begun to rebound, earnings reports are healthier, unemployment is down, and some sanity has returned to the real estate markets, Republicans will have to present the case that things would be even more improved if they had been in leadership positions. Again, for better or worse, that's a harder to sell to most people than the Democrats simply asserting that the recovery is not wholly incidental to their own leadership.

We'll see. My feeling is that the tax cuts which compensate for payroll taxes are more likely to be stimulative in the short term than income tax rebates or suspensions, but as the stock market stages a recovery, capital gains tax cuts and income tax cuts ought to be at least on the table. And I tend not to feel that, say, the transit spending which has been in the news lately deserves the special derision of being called pork.

I would finally note that Republican suggestions for providing stimulus include measures such as the repeal of the estate tax, which, even if a good idea, is not exactly something the Republicans weren't already strongly advocating. If they were in power and putting together a stimulus, I suspect they would be calling for the estate tax's quick death, and saying that the crisis merits it, and Democrats would be saying that the recession is being used to deliver campaign promises to typical conservative constituents.
1.31.2009 4:27pm
loki13 (mail):
SG-

I had seen numbers that showed 62% in favor of Obama's economic plan, with only 28% opposed, which is an amazingly high number. But this was from a partisan polling operation. The source you quote shows a 3% gap in favorability (+3%) in favor of the plan; given that there are those who automatically would not be in favor of additional "government spending" (aka the base as I described above) this is not surprising. But that's still a net favorable.

In short, put it this way:
a) The economy recovers. The GOP suffers from both opposing the measures that "saved" the economy and from being obstructionist.
b) The economy doesn't recover. The GOP can point to being "right" (which they would if they mostly opposed it, and would from being out of power) but also lose from being obstructionist and not trying to "work to solve problems."

In short, as a purely political matter, their tactic is only effective if it actually really is on principle and gains them concessions in the bill, which, because of the nature of the House, it is unlikely to do. I believe that the GOP would have been better off to overwhelmingly vote against it, as opposed to unanimously voting against it.
1.31.2009 4:31pm
BGates:
As contrasted with "let's use the 'War On Terror' as an excuse to fund pet projects....

Let's not drag Murtha into this.
1.31.2009 4:53pm
just me (mail):
a) The economy recovers. The GOP suffers from both opposing the measures that "saved" the economy and from being obstructionist.

There's a pretty big "if" there. My guess is the economy recovers, but it recovers to over a trillion dollars in debt for stuff that more than likely will have nothing at all to do with the recovery.
1.31.2009 5:45pm
Cobra (mail) (www):
It's astounding that some of the same conservatives who give standing ovations for spending $11 Million an hour in Iraq bemoan big spending to save AMERICA.

It's also astounding that people still believe that corporate tax cuts will stimulate a consummer based economy, when reports indicate that 83 of the top 100 corporations in America pay little or no corporate taxes to start with. Most of them shelter themselves with off-shore addresses or subsidiaries, so what does a tax cut mean to them?

The fact remains that in a troubled economic time, when you give POOR and WORKING CLASS people more money, they will SPEND it. They have the most immediate need for comsumables. You give the RICH and UPPER-MIDDLE CLASS more money in a similiar time, they will SAVE or SHELTER it, which does absolutely nothing for a consummer based economy.

Just Me writes:

>>>"You get no arguments from me that the GOP spent too much, but, the GOP even at it's worst didn't create a trillion dollar bill full of port. Even the Iraq and Afghanistan wars haven't cost this much."

Actually--the full cost of the Iraq War hasn't come home to roost yet. Some economists place that price tag at over $3 TRILLION DOLLARS.

The Estate Tax? Who does that affect again?

>>>"United for a Fair Economy released information yesterday indicating that less than one-third of one percent of all U.S. estates-- or 0.27%-- will be affected by the federal estate tax in 2006. The estate tax exemption rose January 1 from $1.5 million to $2 million ($4 million per couple).

This means that 99.73 percent of all estates in the U.S. will be able to pass 100% of their assets to their heirs tax-free."

OMB WATCH

I actually welcome this discussion, and the economic discussion in the full view of the American People like this. We can finally start to dismiss some of the mythology on both sides about the best economic course for our nation.

--Cobra
1.31.2009 8:03pm
therut (mail):
Actually those who voted NO were bipartisan. Those who voted YES were partisan. Funny how everyone including the MSM forgets that little fact. Obama and the Dems OWN the misery to come.
1.31.2009 8:40pm
BlackX (mail):
<blockquote>
As contrasted with "let's use the 'War On Terror' as an excuse to fund pet projects....
</blockquote>

Two wrongs don't make a right, it just digs us a deeper hole to try to get out of.
1.31.2009 8:58pm
just me (mail):
Actually--the full cost of the Iraq War hasn't come home to roost yet. Some economists place that price tag at over $3 TRILLION DOLLARS.


And you think Obama's boondoggle will in the end only be the 1 trillion estimate?
1.31.2009 9:52pm
cognitis:
US depends on foreign support for any federal budget, and foreigners' response to any desperate distraction or "stimulus" signifies foreigners' interest in US' survival; recently at Davos, both Russia's Putin and China's Wen vituperated US financial institutions on account of the present global financial crisis and also proposed a new reserve currency. Should Obama proceed with the stimulus with foreign support, US dollar would decline and US economy would decrease; should Obama proceed without foreign support, dollar would disappear and US economy would collapse. Expect soon all US citizens to finally comprehend that which is already clear to many foreigners: already US is not only not a superpower, but it is no longer even a major power.
1.31.2009 11:40pm
Cobra (mail) (www):
Just me writes:

And you think Obama's boondoggle will in the end only be the 1 trillion estimate?




The alternative is what, my friend? What's your solution? This is the time to stand up and put your ideas and principles into question.

Again, what amuses me about this discussion is that America has been BORROWING MONEY for decades. I didn't hear this hue and cry from conservatives when Reagan exploded the National Debt to nearly three times its size, with the Bush family following suit. But I don't want to simply engage in a partisan "Good guys vs. Bad guys" routine.
We're all to blame for this economic situation.

It's all about GREED. The lust for cheap labor outsourced our industrial base overseas, while insourcing illegal immigrants. Nobody on this blog can tell me with a straight face that American capitalism is "superior" when communists make our products, (even our weapons components) and socialists hold our debt.

GREED. As much as people can justifiably bash Democratic leaders for being in bed with mortgage guarantees, Republicans can be equally bashed for deregulating to the point of lunacy; allowing for mafia-style loan packages to be sold to people who have no business getting them--while taking that same loan, slicing it up, and selling it to third parties, absolving the initial seller of any responsibility...while having a fourth party gamble on the loan's inevitable failure via credit default swap. That's an anywhere from $55 to $62 Trillion dollar largely unregulated market that NOBODY talks enough about.

Cognitus is right. We're dependent upon foreigners once more to bail us out of this, and I can only pray that this package succeeds. Jingoistic hubris is for childish, overpaid talk radio hosts. If this fails, we'll ALL own the disaster for years to come; not just a political party or President.

--Cobra

--Cobra
2.1.2009 12:48am
BGates:
I didn't hear this hue and cry from conservatives...But I don't want to simply engage in a partisan "Good guys vs. Bad guys" routine.
You should upgrade to a keyboard with a backspace key.

If this fails, we'll ALL own the disaster for years to come
We'll all have to pay for it regardless of partisan affiliation (with the apparent exception of Obama's cabinet), but responsibility is a different matter. Obama's plan will be passed without Republican cover. He and his party will deserve credit if it works, and blame if it fails.
If he'd like to share some measure of both, he needs to understand that there's more to bipartisanship than a Super Bowl party.
2.1.2009 1:32am
Dave N (mail):
Peggy Noonan, whom I think of as a pretty clear thinker, and certainly no hack despite her strong Republican bona fides, makes a very cogent analysis in the Wall Street Journal.

I happen to think she makes a great deal of sense and refutes Loki13's arguments better than I could.
2.1.2009 1:53am
just me (mail):
The alternative is what, my friend? What's your solution? This is the time to stand up and put your ideas and principles into question.


My real desire more than anything is likely to do nothing. Not popular I know, but I am not a fan of the various bail outs that wasted tons of money and don't appear to be working and I am not a fan of this.

Now everyone thinks we have to do something-so my "if you have to do something" solution-although I am not convinced it is a solution it is just DOING something-is to take time. Actually consider what kinds of tax cuts/tax code changes will help and what likely won't. Only do what helps.

Look at the spending portion of the bill-go through each item-if it isn't directly related to actual stimulus-if several people can't look at the item and explain how it is stimulus, then it isn't stimulus and should be removed from the bill. Most of this stuff won't even make a dent in the economy for two years according to the CBO and some of it after 2010. There isn't a rush on this stuff-the reason Obama and the democrats in congress want it rushed is because this is a pet project bill for democrats not an actual stimulus bill.

I am curious to see where this thing goes in the senate, but right now I don't support the bill and personally would rather do nothing. It is a recession, it is going to hurt, but I am not convinced taking on a trillion dollars in debt is going to make the hurt go away quicker-in the end it is just going to cause hurt now and hurt down the road.
2.1.2009 7:39am
Sarcastro (www):
If Hoover had only given doing nothing more of a chance, just think of where America would be today! Full of self-reliant rugged Americans, ranging free and manly an' livvin off the fat o' the land!

Not to mention how long it takes for a lot of the stimulus to take effect! The economy never looks to the future when pricing things. And the stability of knowing what's happening will just make banks bored and unchallenged.

The important thing to remember is that we serve the economy, not vice versa. If the economy dictates pain, we must hurt!
2.1.2009 9:53am
loki13 (mail):
Dave N,


Peggy Noonan, whom I think of as a pretty clear thinker, and certainly no hack despite her strong Republican bona fides


I think that Peggy's non-partisan credentials were lost when she:

a) supported Palin's candidacy (a magical transformative pick) then
b) was caught, on a live mike, calling it an unmitigated disaster that was total BS and
c) was forced to recant a after b became news and the damage of Mrs. Palin's candidacy became obvious.

Isn't the definition of a hack to say one thing publicly because that's what you think people want to hear, while believing another thing privately, in order to kowtow to the establishment of your party?

Anyway, there was nothing new in that column. Just the usual sophistry from Peggy. The difference between Obama coming to listen (when, exactly, did Bush do that) and asking for the House to include GOP ideas, including, but not limited to, more tax cuts than his own policy advisers recommended in attempt to reach across the aisle and what transpired over hte previous eight years is obvious. The attempts at spin are just that. As a moderate who last voted GOP in 2000, this makes me somewhat sad.

There is an analogy to be made here. The democrats, drunk on power, were out of step with the American people by 1980. They were the party of victimization. All I hear from the GOP is that they, representing their increasingly embattled base, are now victims. Despite having a full six years to put their ideas into practice, they used those years to attempt to solidify partisan (as opposed to political) goals. That's not a good way to win elections.
2.1.2009 12:02pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
>> The Estate Tax? Who does that affect again?

Folks who own illiquid small biz are the ones affected by the estate tax. The rich, the Gates and Buffets, move almost all of their assets outside their taxable estates. As a result, those assets will never be taxed.
2.1.2009 1:56pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> If Hoover had only given doing nothing more of a chance, just think of where America would be today! Full of self-reliant rugged Americans, ranging free and manly an' livvin off the fat o' the land!

Except that Hoover didn't try "doing nothing". He started massive spending programs. FDR campaigned on cutting those programs and a balanced budget, then reversed course after being elected.

It's unclear that FDR boosted spending more than Hoover planned. However, FDR was more aggressive about cutting back production. That didn't end until the likelyhood of WWII convinced him that an "arsenal of democracy" might be a good idea.

Hoover made the Great Depression deep, FDR made it long.
2.1.2009 2:01pm
loki13 (mail):
Andy Freeman,

While I realize that you enjoy this talking point, I recommend looking seriously at the economics literature on the time. You'll find the following:

1. *All* of FDR's policies were not effective. Because we didn't have Keyens yet, there were some policies that weren't helpful, and a few that hurt. In aggregate, however, the policies really helped.

2. From a normative point of view, the policies were helpful. When survival is at stake (both personal and the political system), it's harder to gainsay the effectiveness of some policies.

3. The recession wasn't 'prolonged' by FDR. If you look at the time series, you see steady growth from the election of FDR and the implementation of his policies until the mini-recession of 1937. The mini-recession was caused by FDR deciding that it might be time to get the budget in line (end Keynesian policies). It was too soon for that.

4. Hoover may have authorized some measures, but they weren't actually being done (funds authorized by not being spent). In addition, the measures he authorized fall under the too little, too late category.

In short, everything you wrote is wrong, yet neatly fits into your previous biases. The truth is more complicated, but still casts Hoover in a poor light and FDR in a good one.
2.1.2009 2:31pm
Sarcastro (www):
But loki13, FDR totally attacked Hoover's tacing and spending! This proves to me that FDR's populist "New Deal" was really all about shrinknig government till he sneakily did the old switcheroo!

And also that Hoover's volunterism and noting how the Federal givernment shouldn't help people; that while people must not suffer from hunger and cold, caring for them must be primarily a local and voluntary responsibility. Suuch a liberal! Just like Bush. Both of em!
2.1.2009 2:37pm
Sarcastro (www):
heh. Giverment.
2.1.2009 2:58pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
We're dependent upon foreigners once more to bail us out of this, and I can only pray that this package succeeds. Jingoistic hubris is for childish, overpaid talk radio hosts. If this fails, we'll ALL own the disaster for years to come; not just a political party or President.

If such a disaster means Obama loses in 2012 and we don't have another Leftist president for a generation or more I'll pay the price. Idiot Americans who think they'll be getting lots of freebies in a Hope n Change Fairyland need to be taught a lesson.
2.1.2009 5:57pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> 1. *All* of FDR's policies were not effective.

I didn't say that they were. I said that the policies that FDR's did were continuations of Hoover's policies, policies that FDR campaigned against.

Hoover was a "progressive" - he pushed govt spending. It's simply wrong to claim that he was hands-off.
2.2.2009 10:18am
jukeboxgrad's favorite YouTube video:
As to "not including pork", the fact is that in most cases "pork" is probably the very definition of an effective economic stimulus -- most "pork" contains a strong element of job creation, and job creation is the key to economic recovery. Complaining about "pork" being in a stimulus bill is like complaining about ice cream being in a ice cream sundae.

My conception of of "pork" has been that the spending directly benefit only a small number. It's a giveaway to an interest group or a Congressional district. I don't consider it "pork" when the government spends enormous sums on projects that provides everyone with a benefit, even if the project is unnecessary, money is wasted, and the benefit is small.

Obama wants to build transportation infrastructure. I think a lot of money is going to be wasted, but a lot of people will get use out of the new roads. Perhaps it's a distinction without a difference, but I don't consider that to be pork.

I heard a definition that I like better, though: if it's got six or eight zeros in it, it's pork. If it's got nine or more zeros in it, it's stimulus.
2.2.2009 10:35am

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