Economy


From the NY Times. Now might be the time to head for the hills.

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I guess?

This tends to be my general sentiment regarding the economic stimulus package that passed the House yesterday evening. And while the politics of the bill is interesting, the actual substance of the package alludes me somewhat. And part of the problem here is that you have three choices in digesting such legislation: 1. Read the bill yourself, yikes 2. Trust the ideologies with an invested agenda in the bill’s passage or failure, respectively, or 3. Allow the news media – also clueless – to assure you that everything will be ok.

But I certainly don’t trust that to be the case. I’m not an economist, so that leaves me to implicitly trust Paul Krugman, or something even more drastic and terrible, trust the likes of Rush Limbaugh. I think a compromise bill – readjusting the tax rates a bit to put cash in the hands of some people next pay cycle – sounds like a pretty reasonable suggestion. This doesn’t mean I reject or dismiss infrastructure spending, it simply means I have faith that Americans will do what they do best if given the cash: spend. If we’re going to borrow more Chinese and Saudi money, we may as well return the favor and buy the goods coming from the former. Maybe give them a little stimulus, too.

And while my grasp on the economics of the bill leaves me befuddled, my clarity on the politics of the matter leaves me a tad bit frustrated. I see a lot of political swagger and gesturing, but very little effort to actually make this package understandable and digestible for the American public. Sadly, I think Kos is mostly right on the politics of the bill: the big loser here is Obama’s message. There was no political incentive for the House GOP to support this bill, and much like their Democratic counterparts, they are riding on the hope that this stimulus package will either succeed or fail overwhelmingly. Setting them up for a better position in 2010. As for the Democrats, well, they had the votes. Can’t blame them for being partisan when it was politically feasible (to paraphrase LBJ, the ability to count is the most important of skills in Washington).

The Republicans, interestingly enough, are taking a different page from the Johnson playbook. Adopting an Eisenhower approach to Obama, they are hoping that a duel approach of demonizing the House Dems, while presenting themselves as the true carriers of Obama’s best wishes on the Hill, will result in mercy for them from the American public. Sure they voted against the Democrat bill, but they did so in defense of President Obama’s initial submission (the truth is that Obama is going to support whichever piece of sausage that ultimately comes out anyway, so the posturing of the likes of Mitch McConnell is a tad transparent).

This is why I do foreign policy.

Is it just me, or is it terribly inappropriate at this juncture for disgraced Ex-NY governor Eliot Spitzer to be writing about ‘stimulus’?

(And please note that he’s writing in all seriousness about robots)