NYTimes Analysis Of Stimulus: Not A Time For Cigars

I pummel the Media all the time. I think it is only fair that we throw some kudos at good analysis, both on substance and politics, when it comes. Richard Stevenson of the NYTimes delivers both in his article for tomorrow's paper:

While it hammered home the reality of bigger, more activist government, the economic package was not the culmination of a hard-fought ideological drive, like Lyndon B. Johnsonís civil rights and Great Society programs, or Ronald Reaganís tax cuts, but rather a necessary and hastily patched-together response to an immediate and increasingly dire situation. On the domestic issues Mr. Obama ran and won on ó health care, education, climate change, rebalancing the distribution of wealth ó the legislation does little more than promise there will be more to come.

[More . . .]

In cobbling together a plan that could get through both the House and the Senate, Mr. Obama prevailed, but not in the way he had hoped. His inability to win over more than a handful of Republicans amounted to a loss of innocence, a reminder that his high-minded calls for change in the practice of governance had been ground up in a matter of weeks by entrenched forces of partisanship and deep, principled differences between left and right.

In the end, Congress did not come together to address what Mr. Obama has regularly suggested is a crisis that could rival the Great Depression. What consensus has been forged so far is likely to be tested in the months to come as he faces scrutiny over the effectiveness of the stimulus package and the likelihood that he will have to ask Congress for substantially more money to heal the fractures in the financial system.

So this was hardly a moment for cigars.

Read the whole thing. It is very good.

Speaking for me only

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    Thanks for pointing this out (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:02:38 PM EST
    I note:

    Mr. Galston said Mr. Obama may not yet have fully absorbed the difficulties he faces in pressing for expensive policy initiatives to make health care more affordable and accessible, address global warming, provide more money for education and promote research into alternative energy sources.

    A couple of months ago I argued for an "everything" bill. A risky, go for broke, strategy. Figure out absolutely everything you want to get done on the policy side in your first term and shoehorn it into one package. I still think that would have been the right call, and political capital has been wasted on this bill.

    I think a credible - and sellable - (5.00 / 8) (#4)
    by Anne on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:15:16 PM EST
    argument could have been made for how the policy initiatives that were front and center in the election would be stimulative, but the Democrats, and Obama in particular, were at the airport when that boat left the harbor; they may still be wondering why the plane they boarded is not headed where they thought it was supposed to be going.

    As many truly intelligent people as there were - and are - on the Obama team, such a plan could have been - should have been - gamed, primed and ready to roll out...on Day One - complete with charts, PowerPoint and interactive graphs.

    I don't know that Obama will ever again have the kind of opportunity he had coming into the WH, and I will be pleasantly surprised - no, make that totally shocked - if he is able to jettison this craptastic post-partisan schtick, get control of his own agenda, bring the Democratic caucus into a single-minded focus and purpose, and kick some GOP a$$.


    They could have passed healthcare for everyone (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:20:24 PM EST
    this week. We won't have that opportunity again for quite some time IMO.

    Are you convinced candidate Obama (5.00 / 4) (#28)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:07:32 PM EST
    was invested in changing the current health care systems?

    He claimed to be (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:22:32 PM EST
    Nonresponsive. (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:24:10 PM EST
    Well, define your terms (none / 0) (#37)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:25:59 PM EST
    What does "invested" mean? What does "change" mean? What does "health care" mean?

    Hey, if I knew what "change" means (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:27:41 PM EST
    would I be asking the question?

    heh (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:30:07 PM EST
    Well, let's just say that what I think about what he was invested in is pretty much irrelevant to everything.

    He was forced to sound more liberal on healthcare (none / 0) (#96)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:15:03 AM EST
    by Hillary and Edwards. Did he ever want to work it? Based on his comments, I would say no. And, late in the general election he did make those comments to a private fundraiser (in PA) that big spending issues like education and healtcare would have to wait.

    So, while he was pushed to say healthcare is a right during one of the prez debates, I didn't feel as he said it that he meant it. He was terse and tense when he said it; didn't feel right to me.


    No they couldn't have (none / 0) (#8)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:32:38 PM EST
    If you accept my proposition (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:35:23 PM EST
    that Obama will never have more political capital, except for maybe in 4 years, then you also as a consequence have to agree that Democratic policy never had a better chance of being enacted into law than this past few weeks.

    So if you think that national healthcare wasn't possible this week, then you probably also think that it isn't possible for quite some time; probably not even in this Presidency.


    If it works he will have the political capital (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:04:34 PM EST

    But again, I just don't see how you set up a nationalized health care system in less then a month for over 350 million people (I think that is about our population?)  Though I like the idea of a nationalized system, it would be impossible to get buy from the many different players in the system: doctors, patients (which have mixed needs), drug companies, etc. in a reasonable manner that would improve our quality of care.  A nationalized system will not by itself improve the quality of care in this country, but a good one will- which will take time.


    I'm not looking for a policy debate (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:08:12 PM EST
    The risky strategy requires that, for our purposes, the detail debate is over. Pass a program or not.

    Then not!!!!! (none / 0) (#31)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:14:09 PM EST
    Passing a program to pass a program that involves human lives is a terrible idea.  

    Lost (or not acknowledged) in this debate is that the most Americans do get great health care under the current system.  I do not think it is good enough, and no one with any sense could look at our health care system and not see that it is quickly falling apart.   Thus it important to advocate for a good national health care system.


    What are you saying? (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:17:36 PM EST
    I don't understand your comment.
    The US has terrible health care, especially when you factor in the cost.

    People get amazing treatment here (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:26:02 PM EST
    It is what we treat that is the question.  We don't do a good job at preventative care, but once you have cancer the treatment can't be beat.  

    I VERY much believe we should change our system.  But part of changing that is looking at what we like, and what is done well.  And a lot of stuff is done VERY well.  


    Health care is measured by (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:33:23 PM EST
    vital statistics, not by the prevalence of modern treatments, or their lack.
    US health care is abysmal.

    ONLY if you live in a medical (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:00:43 AM EST
    center area like Boston or NYC or Pittsburgh, and ONLY if your plan allows you to find the best treatment regardless of affiliation.  Not true for most insurance plans these days.  You can live in the middle of Boston and not have access to all those great medical centers.

    I love the North End Clinic in Boston especially (none / 0) (#53)
    by suzieg on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 05:03:12 AM EST
    which is an arm of Mass General  and especially Dr. John Foster, the most approchable and open minded, to alternative therapies, doctor I've ever had! I miss him terribly!

    You start a long debate (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:24:44 PM EST
    and a good plan turns into a bad plan. If I had my druthers, I'd open up Medicare for everyone. But I know that candidate Obama did not share my preference.

    Agree, but even medicare needs (5.00 / 0) (#40)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:28:04 PM EST
    Extreme revision.  We need to start over.  

    Beg to differ (5.00 / 4) (#51)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 01:01:43 AM EST
    Medicare needs mild revision, and a major funding fix.  If it was open to everybody, the second part would take care of itself.

    No (none / 0) (#56)
    by samtaylor2 on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:22:12 AM EST
    Doctors are getting screwed under medicare- you want doctors don't you?  What drugs are covered makes no sense- increasing costs.  One of the problems that no one wants to face is that the system is BROKEN- and must be rebuilt keeping in mind how much older our population will get in the next 10 years.

    Please read what I said (none / 0) (#81)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:52:06 AM EST
    It needs a major funding fix.

    Physicians -- and their patients -- are getting far more seriously and devastatingly screwed by HMOs and for-profit health care than by Medicare.

    The Medicare Part IV add-on is a disaster, no question.

    In the last four years of my mother's life, with numerous hospitalizations, consultation with specialists and a long stint in rehab, no bureaucracy got in the way of her physicians' decisions, and the only thing she was actually billed for was half the ambluance fees between Medicare and her very modest supplemental insurance.

    Just try to find an HMO patient who could say the same.


    Open Medicare for everyone--open Fed plans (none / 0) (#65)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:13:32 AM EST
    to everyone.

    Even if initially it meant having the  non-Fed employees pay the whole cost. Would be cheaper than what individuals are paying in the current situations to enrich the execs of Big Insurance.

    Get people covered.

    Many can't afford any but a pittance toward insurance--open Medicaid to those.

    That kind of funding could have been in the stimulus bill, but, no, he had to satisfy the Repubs with tax cuts of little to minor stimulus value. With more people covered, more medical personnel would be needed. Maybe some of those employed to just say no by Big Insurance could get back into, like, healing and helping people.

    FDR was bold, audacious, fully aware he would not get Repub support. Obama?  


    Americans who have great (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:28:27 PM EST
    health insurance get mostly good health care under our system.  But we're way, way behind the rest of the modern world in all quality of care measures, including the signal one of infant mortality, and a huge and growing percentage of us have no health insurance at all.

    Our health care system STINKS, and it's an utter disgrace.

    That said, I agree with you 100 percent that health care reform could not happen early in this administration.  The financial/economic crisis and the huge political and monetary capital that requires makes it out of the question.  If he'd tried, we'd have gotten half-a*ed health care and quarter-a*ed economic/financial rescue.


    My wife and I... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Dadler on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:16:03 AM EST
    ...have pretty good coverage and still, just this week, when my wife called her doctor to start the 9 month cycle of meds to treat a recent positive TB test, the doctor and her office seemed to have no "memory" of my wife's positive test, or that she'd already been in to discuss it and the course of medication.  Needless to say, you'd think, even though it's only latent TB, that you wouldn't forget your actual positive test results, which have to account for a small, very small, percentage of tests.  It was not encouraging, to say the least.

    It's thought about during the campaign/transition. (none / 0) (#95)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:12:28 AM EST
    I usually agree with you (none / 0) (#64)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:12:09 AM EST
    Today though, our situations are all going to get bleaker or at least look bleaker.  I think we will get healthcare for everyone, we just haven't hit that bleak enough time yet where Obama will get it through without a fight.  I wish he would fight but he isn't much of a fighter.  If he really is a pragmatist we will get healthcare, just not today.  This is just the beginning of the dark days this crisis is going to bring us all.

    My spouse who has been a business (none / 0) (#43)
    by hairspray on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:32:54 PM EST
    exec for years (worked his way up) said that the thing that most worried him about Obama was his desire to create the large frameworks and that he wasn't going to be a hands on president.  According to spouse, that is not how it works.  When arriving at the top, the talents have to be won on experience in the field. I hope for our sake Obama abandons that style.  The GOP will not be kind.

    How can he abandon it? (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:36:28 PM EST
    He doesn't have the experience to be more hands on.

    i'll be pleasantly surprised (none / 0) (#47)
    by sancho on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 12:14:10 AM EST
    if has an agenda that comes close to what his most ardent suporters think he will do. while i think that obama will knock off and distribute low hanging democratic party fruit (such as what btd identified earlier today), i fear what he truly shares with his supporters is a commitment to his own cult of celebrity. and i think he thinks that pps can get him re-elected, no matter what policy mistakes he makes.

    For this to be true (none / 0) (#59)
    by fladem on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:30:17 AM EST
    you have to explain how this would have made it easier to get the suppport of Collins and Snowe.

    Obama faces a simple math problem: he needs to Republican votes to get anything out of the Senate.  Since 90% of the GOP Senate is going to have nothing to do with any health care bill, passing anything requires winning 2 votes from the 3 or 4 Senators who might for vote anything resembling progressive legislation.  The problem is those 4 Senators are insulated.  Collins in particular just ran for relection and clobbered a well funded opponent.  

    It may feel good to say Obama wasn't tough enough, but I have yet to hear how being toughter gets single vote for cloture in Senate.


    He did not need ADDITIONAL votes (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:34:08 AM EST
    He got all the votes he ever had a chance to get.

    The question is did he get ALL THE BILL he could have gotten.

    This is a negotiation question. Sure, the GOP 3 said it was this or nothing. People in negotiation say stuff like that all the time. Hell, pols are the biggest liars in the world, and especially in legislative negotiations.

    It seems to me you have avoided the entire point - to wit was this REALLY the best bill Obama could have gotten. And the even more intriguing question - is this actually the bill Obama wanted.


    I was responding (5.00 / 0) (#82)
    by fladem on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:53:33 AM EST
    to the notion that Obama should have submitted an all or nothing bill including health care.  

    I see no evidence such a bill would have made it easier to get the repug votes he needed.  In fact, I think it would have made it significantly harder.

    Did he get what he wanted out of the stimulus package?  I think the size of the package was about what he wanted.  I think it is too small, but I don't see any evidence that he wanted a bigger package.  

    I think there is a good argument to be made that his initial negotiating position was too close to his final position on the stimulus package, but in the end it is all a guess.  In any event, that is a different question to the one I was responding to.  


    Fair enough (none / 0) (#86)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:00:14 AM EST
    It's fairly close to what he (none / 0) (#68)
    by Radix on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:27:14 AM EST
    wanted. I find it hard to believe that the original House bill didn't have Obama's blessing, when it was voted on. Then Rahmn goes to the Senate and they make the deal?

    "Last, best, and final offer." (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:32:25 AM EST
    Until the next one (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:33:13 AM EST
    Ding Ding Ding!! (none / 0) (#90)
    by dk on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:08:46 AM EST
    And the even more intriguing question - is this actually the bill Obama wanted.

    Thank you for at least acknowledging that this is a valid question to ask.  Based on his campaign (Harry & Louise Ads, "Entitlement Reform", Faith Based Charter Schools, etc.) I have my own opinions on the answer, but what demoralizes me is the unwillingness on the left to confront the question at all, despite so much evidence right in front of their eyes.


    If healthcare were part of the bill, pressure from (none / 0) (#67)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:20:44 AM EST
    the public would have been overwhelming, even to some of the True Believer Repubs. They do understand electoral math -- if they thought their own seats would be lost bcz of filibustering healthcare, some would have found a new belief system. Survival.

    But, who knows? Obama didn't even try. He didn't even talk to the public about the need for interim assistance with health insurance for those losing their jobs. Amazing. One of the highest ranked needs/objectives of his voters and he wouldn't talk it up.

    Had to satisfy the Repubs, look like Mr. Bipartisan, so he gave up a better possible bill for a "bipartisan" one.

    We are so "bipartisaned."


    As much as I dislike having to say it (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by scribe on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:18:23 PM EST
    what Obama is going to have to do is abandon his desire to run things on a gentlemanly, courteous, professional level, at least when it comes to dealing with the Republicans.

    They don't fear him.  Unfortunately, the only thing which seems to motivate them is fear.

    Oh, Obama might remain "above the fray" on a personal level, but he will have to have some of the meanest SOBs willing to do serious dirt to the Repugs, deployed to do just that.

    Task One is message control and would seem to be best started by redressing the editorial slant and pro-Repug guest imbalance of the tradmed.  Exploring revisions to the structure of the media's business models - by changing regulation rather than legislating, b/c Obama can control regulation independent of the Congress.

    Have Rupert Murdoch over for dinner.  Commiserate on his actually having lost money in the most recent quarter.  Offer to help him lose some more, faster.

    Task One would also encompass allowing his surrogates to start calling the current economic situation what it is:  The Bush Depression.  Obama doesn't have to do that himself, but he needs to let it happen.

    Task Two is to start picking off middle-of-the-pack Republicans through prosecution and scandal.  They set the Seligman precedent - now they should live in fear of it.

    Task Three is to start actually enforcing the torture and wiretapping laws against Bushco.  The unending flood of scandal will help in accomplishing Task One and will keep his own base unified behind him.

    In all of these things, that magical email list can be used to ask people like us to, um, call Congress and demand more change for the better.  Something that hasn't been done yet.  It's a lot cheaper to get a half-million or million people to pick up the phone to targeted members, than to run radio ads in their districts.

    Task Four is to take the change to revising the basic landscape of the economy.  Starting with repealing Taft-Hartley.  And aggressively pushing unionization.  And removing federal preemptions against individuals enforcing their rights in state courts.

    And, maybe, repealing the changes in the securities laws passed in the last 15 years which made suing for securities fraud a lot more difficult and a lot less effective as a means of reining in the Wall Street boys' excesses.  Because the fear of plaintiffs' lawyers was a lot more effective, on a day to day basis, in keeping those excesses in check than was the threat of an underfunded, toothless and inept SEC.  Ask Bernie Madoff.

    Of course, taking that spreadsheet the recently-convicted NY madam provided, with something like 3500 Wall Streeters' names, schemes for hiding their hooker expenses in the company balance sheets, and predilictions, and then opening files in the S.D.N.Y. to actually prosecute the johns for their tax and other frauds will likely also go a long way toward straightening out the behavior in the market.

    The Republicans don't fear Obama, yet.  They need to.

    Task five : hire Scribe as an advisor. (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Teresa on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:23:37 PM EST
    Have Rupert Murdoch over for dinner.  Commiserate on his actually having lost money in the most recent quarter.  Offer to help him lose some more, faster.

    That truly made me laugh at loud. I startled my little dog.


    I'm available. (5.00 / 2) (#52)
    by scribe on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 04:43:13 AM EST
    Just toss me about $250 k out of that stimulus (or let the printing press run a bit longer on those Benajamins), so I can pay off the mortgage company, the credit card company, and replace my over-5 y/o car.

    B/c cumulatively I haven't had more than a week's worth of real, paying work so far this year.


    Wasn't Rahm supposed to do all (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:35:49 PM EST
    this stuff?

    Yes but the bipartisan stuff wore off on him. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Teresa on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:39:39 PM EST
    I always thought he could play hard ball but he sure gave in easy. Unless he was instructed to.

    The Bulldog? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:37:44 PM EST

    A man is known (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:48:59 PM EST
    by the company he keeps. Inviting Rupert (the Dark Lord) Murdoch for dinner is not a solution. Besides BO's children would be having nightmares for weeks.

    No, I'm sorry. That makes about as much sense as having the Repug pundit class over for drinks in hopes of turning them into human beings.


    Repubs may have feared him, but they tested him to (none / 0) (#74)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:36:36 AM EST
    be sure they needed to fear him. Found out pretty fast.

    Now, does Obama have enough juice with the public to make arena appearances and get some mojo going to instill fear in the Repubs? I don't know -- apparently, just by speaking about the Obama Stimulus Bill a little bit and making the two trips, approval ratings from the public went up.

    But since Obama himself had seemed to criticize and talk down the House version (not bipartisan enough, give the Repubs more of what they want), it was not unreasonable that the public would think it was not a good bill. Like, d'uh, especially since the president of the party of the House majority which passed the bill said it wasn't!

    Seriously, when the president talks down his own freaking bill? How else would a rational public react? Must not be a good bill, if their own prez doesn't like it, right?

    I would say Repubs don't fear him as long as he places achieving "bipartisanship" above achieving the programs he told people he would implement for them. Repubs can just hold him hostage by saying not "bipartisan" enough. Remains to be seen whether he can fight for principles and others, not just his own success.

    Brilliant strategy, putting bipartiship above all else. Not.


    Obama is not bipartisan enough for me. (5.00 / 4) (#79)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:48:07 AM EST
    He needs to advocate for more Democratic objectives in the stimulus bill to get there.

    My opinion is that you are absolutely right. (none / 0) (#110)
    by rennies on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 02:14:27 PM EST
    But dream on, if you think Obama has the leadership skills to carry out such a strategy. Personally, I don't think he has the b*lls to be a true leader.

    I agree w/ you sans #4 (none / 0) (#111)
    by Pragmatist on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 02:29:34 PM EST
    Having worked in a union environment, I believe that unions have out lived their usefulness (for the most part) and as with most groups who have power they mirror the axiom: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    For example: in my work environment, the electricians walk around thinking they are gods making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass...so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time...for a job they easily
    could have done within their normal 40 hour work week.  I've been threatened with all kinds of scare tactics for working too hard and being too productive.  Heaven forbid that I do the job I was hired to do.


    I'm actually okay with. . . (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:33:58 PM EST
    this part:

    On the domestic issues Mr. Obama ran and won on -- health care, education, climate change, rebalancing the distribution of wealth -- the legislation does little more than promise there will be more to come.

    There are going to be plenty of other bills.  This is an emergency stimulus bill and should be about one thing, and one thing only (okay -- primarily).  Jobs.

    Sure, you can argue that any issue you're interested in involves hiring people.  But what this bill should do is figure out how we're going to employ the people getting laid off left and right in construction, manufacturing, and other collapsing sectors.

    On those terms, mind you, the stimulus bill isn't so great either -- larded out with stupid and counter-productive tax breaks where we should see more infrastructure spending.

    But this bill isn't the place for, for instance, funding R & D into green technologies (and yes I know that you need to hire people to do that R & D).  That's another bill, some months from now.

    My thesis is (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:39:02 PM EST
    that incrementalism does not work in the U.S. system of government.

    You come in with the force of 9 gods and demand everything you want, or the Congress makes mince of you.


    I'm not preaching incrementalism. . . (5.00 / 8) (#18)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:50:48 PM EST
    at least, not in that comment.  I'm not suggesting one stimulus bill, then another, then another.  Just separate of concerns.  This bill should have been about Jobs.  Jobs, jobs, jobs.  And more jobs.

    That said, since this bill is, I think, a bit disappointing on the jobs front, I wouldn't mind Obama coming out the day after it's signed and saying "Well, now that we've passed the tax cut bill the Republicans wanted I plan to send a jobs bill to Congress next".


    It was a wasted opportunity (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:52:22 PM EST
    unless you were looking for an opportunity to block President Obama's agenda, as professed in the campaign.

    In other words (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by andgarden on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:54:18 PM EST
    Obama needed to use the same strategy in passing his agenda as he did in runnning--more particularly in deciding to run--for President.

    Waiting just brings you and your agenda closer to the "sell by" date.


    I came down here to write that same (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Maryb2004 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:44:14 PM EST
    comment but here you've already said it.  This isn't the bill to do all of that in.

    So I'll just say ... "what Larry said".


    The problem (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:15:51 AM EST
    Well there are a couple.  The first problem is that there are only so many "shovel ready" projects that can get done.  You can only build so many highways and bridges at one time.  So while it is good to invest heavily in that sort of job creation, at a certain point you get diminishing returns.  

    Further, saving jobs is just as important as creating new ones and a lot of this bill is focused on keeping jobs for folks like teachers, nurses, state employees.  you can have all the construction in the world but that won't be enough to close states' budget gaps and prevent layoffs.

    Third, the problem we have right now is that there is about a $2 trillion hole in the GDP over the next two years.  We need to try to fill that hole.  The bill we have - $719 billion - won't be nearly enough to do that.  But the only way to do that is to get as much money out as many ways as possible - again this involves diversified spending.  We can't get $2 trillion in infrastructure projects - it just can't be done.

    Fourth, investing in green energy does create jobs right now (through R&D, through production of the technology - manufacturing jobs!- , through retrofitting buildings, etc).  But it also sets us up for future growth.  I like building and improving bridges, but once they are done, they're not directly creating any new jobs (aside from the overall benefit of having a better infrastructure).  Green energy can pay dividends down the road - and if it keeps us from pouring money into the oil fields of the middle east, so much the better.

    That said, I'm not happy with this bill.  There are too many tax elements that are not stimuluative and too little in assistance to states.  But I'm fine with diversified spending - that's the only way we can push out enough money to make a dent in the GDP hole - I believe there needed to be much more of it.

    And this bill is a wasted opportunity.  For all those who say that we can come back for stimulus 2, i would just say:  watch what the Republicans are doing.  They voted against this bill so if it doesn't work, they can blast it.  Because moderates watered it down so much (with Obama's blessing), it likely won't do all it should.  When  the Democrats try to come back for more, the Republicans will say, "we tried it your way, it didn't work.  so we are going to insist on a tax-cut-only strategy."  And it will be 100 times as difficult to get even a fraction of what we need.


    We already have populist rage (none / 0) (#69)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:29:50 AM EST
    I wonder if the Republicans will always be able to look over the tops of all those heads and continue to pretend that those people aren't there.

    They won't have to (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:35:15 AM EST
    They will use that rage instead.  They will look out at the people and say, "this is what happens when liberal democrats decide to give your tax money to a bunch of welfare programs and food stamps rather than back to you, the working people of this country."

    They have done this before.  

    We had an ideal moment to change that - Republicans policies had failed utterly and Americans knew it.  They were ready to try the Democratic approach.  Well they didn't get it with this bill.  They got the post-partisan pony, but Republicans will call it Democratic and the people will believe.

    an FDR moment this ain't.


    I don't think this is an FDR moment (none / 0) (#76)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:40:00 AM EST
    Now that we have some populist rage going on though I'm doubting that the Republicans are going to be able to spin this that easily.  People are finally beginning to ask hard questions and they aren't just taking the stock answer anymore, they are starting to get really angry.

    but it could have been (none / 0) (#80)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:51:38 AM EST
    Last year, I heard from more than one Obama supporter that he alone had the ability to do the sort of political shift that would strengthen the Democratic brand for a generation - as FDR did.  A political realignment.

    Given the circumstances of the economy, he certainly was tee'd up to do so.  But he whiffed.  


    I don't think he was tee'd up for it (none / 0) (#88)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:02:54 AM EST
    Look, I'm sorry, but with only 51% of Independents believing this stimulus is critically important he wasn't tee'd up like you are saying he was.  How broken was the nation when FDR took office?  America hasn't come to grips yet with how broken she is but she is going to in time, and too many out there are wringing their hands over how much money this is costing and what happened with the TARP money.  

    Obama could have built support for the Obama Stim (none / 0) (#92)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:09:54 AM EST
    Bill, but he initially seemed to floating above it all. Yes, his people worked with the House, behind the scenes. But Obama himself did not work to make the public understand what was at stake, how it could be achieved, and what Obama himself saw as priorities.

    Well, they saw he wanted "bipartisanship." And, he got a wee small portion of that. At the expense of using the monies for things with more economic bang for the buck. Alas.

    The Repubs had their attack spokespeople on the talk shows -- fewer Dems. And it seemed no one could enuciate Obama's actual principles.


    This is my interpretation (none / 0) (#103)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:58:40 AM EST
    of what went down in the media as well and where Obama missed the mark in a huge way getting this out of the gate.  People DO NOT UNDERSTAND what has happened and what needs to happen from here.  I don't think this was our last hope though.  Not with the rage that is going to drive the debate on our economy.

    Solar panel companies are laying people off, since (none / 0) (#98)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:21:49 AM EST
    ppl can't afford or get loans for implementing solar plans.

    So, the companies were there, mfring the panels, needed stimulus to be able to continue. No stim, no production, no sales, more layoffs.

    But, increasing solar usage would have possibly cut into Big Oil and King Coal's profits, so, for that sector, little to no funding for renewable energy is cool. Not sure how electricity producers feel, but, why encourage competition?


    I am starting to come around (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by CST on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:32:07 AM EST
    To this type of thinking, if only because at this point, it seems like a best case scenario, and I really want to be optimistic about something.

    Honestly, I just want SOME funding for infrastructure projects a.s.a.p. before the company I work for goes under.  Which could happen any day now... But this bill won't be nearly enough to get everything done.  Which I guess I am fine with as long as there is bill #2, and bill #3, etc...

    Eventually we will have (hopefully) Franken and then we only need 1 rethuglican senator.

    I like the earmark idea to bring them on board.  Sell out for the benefit of the American people please...


    the upside (none / 0) (#78)
    by CST on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:46:44 AM EST
    a lack of work to do sure gives me more time to spend on TL... :)

    HIghway spending did get a cut, from $30B to $29B- (none / 0) (#87)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:02:08 AM EST
    Mass transit got a much bigger cut and was smaller than highway spending bcz Summers believes highway money gets into the eoonomy faster, so told House to make cuts in mass tran funding early on.

    So much for meeting two goals: stimulating economy and lowering global warming emissions.

    Now, what were Obama's big issues??


    Eradicate poverty w/i 10 years (none / 0) (#91)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:09:31 AM EST
    and no more homeless veterans.

    Yes I know (none / 0) (#93)
    by CST on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:11:16 AM EST
    But that's completely irrelevant to my post.

    Like I said, I just want SOMETHING to keep me afloat, and then I can wait for bill #2, and bill #3.

    29B is something.  I know it is not as much as we could have/should have gotten.  But in the mean time, I am sitting on nothing.  And we are in very dire straits.

    Right now I am a little more concerned with the when than the what.  Because my job may not make it much longer...


    No Question In My Mind (none / 0) (#106)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:26:28 AM EST
    That there will be more to come. At least, as Mike Ditto points out, additional $$ will continue to come in as short term spending and cannot be filibustered.

    The Senate's PAYGO rule only applies to increases in entitlement spending or tax cuts. It does not apply to short-term spending, therefore a PAYGO point of order would not apply to stimulus.

    I don't think that is accurate (none / 0) (#108)
    by ColumbiaDuck on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:42:04 AM EST
    PAY-Go applies to all spending or tax cuts.  Anything that is done outside the budget resolution.

    OK (none / 0) (#109)
    by squeaky on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:48:57 AM EST
    You obviously agree with KagroX, I'll put my money on Mike Ditto.

    Did you follow the thread, and remain unconvinced. If not I would recommend it.

    The only question that remains in my mind about the parliamentarian spaghetti is whether or not any Democratic members of the Senate are as well informed as Mike Ditto is.


    If you think the Repubs screamed too expensive on (none / 0) (#77)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:43:04 AM EST
    the Obama Stimulus Bill, wait until they can scream Pay As You Go and Offsetting Cuts about new, standalone legislation for new programs or programs the Repubs just don't like.

    Gonna be pretty strong stuff -- and, when the Repubs have the MCM basically on their side regarding spending for social and/or environmental isses, oh my. Katie, bar the door! The Repubs will be off and running with "fiscal responsibility" and "we can't afford it" talking points.

    All those things "later on" might be 22nd Century, if at all. Maybe, if we do go into a deep depression then Obama can still talk about spending as good for the country.

    But, the MCMers for the most part have theirs, so will they even support such things then?

    MCMers--Members of the Mainstream Corporate Media


    And then, SocSec and entitlements will be on the (none / 0) (#99)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:24:13 AM EST
    table, per Obama.

    I dread seeing what he will propose to be "bipartisan."

    We are going to be so "bipartisaned."


    Biznezz as usual (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:48:42 PM EST
    Objection. Unnecessary (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by oculus on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:08:36 PM EST
    denigration of Madame Speaker, who is showing promise.

    Yes. Madame Speaker is way down on the list (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:22:38 AM EST
    of people to blame on this one.

    Aaaaaaaaaa!!! (none / 0) (#19)
    by weltec2 on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:52:01 PM EST

    See me (none / 0) (#22)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:54:20 PM EST
    touch me

    feel me!


    Pelosi undermined (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:58:32 PM EST
    the President last week by telling reporters that she really doesn't give a damn about bipartisanship or had to have a staff member look up "bipartisanship" in the dictionary as a refresher.

    That Obama idea needed undermining (5.00 / 4) (#25)
    by Cream City on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:05:21 PM EST
    and it was the Republicans that undermined it.  

    Or maybe Obama's staff.  It sure looked like they didn't share the game plan with Pelosi, and that the White House was at war with her House.


    Pelosi was being undermined, per Jane Hamsher, by (none / 0) (#83)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:55:10 AM EST
    Rahmbo. Rahm told the House the WH wanted certain things included in the Obama Simulus Bill; but, when Repubs started lobbing propaganda bombs at the Dems and Obama, Obama folded and Rahm told the House to take things out. Then blamed the House for going off on its own and being uncontrolled...you know, sort of like taxandspend liberals those Repubs alwasy rail against? Well, Obama let Rahm put it about that that's what was wrong with the House version of the Obama Stimulus Bill.

    Mark Shields was on Inside Washington on Sunday saying that the WH was "dropping a dime" on the speaker, and, for Shields, was visibly angry. His jowls were actually shaking.  He said it was all the Hill, people were buzzing about it.

    Not good srategy or tactic, as Obama and Rahm will need those Dem lib votes in the future. Unless he wants to govern with Repub and Blue Dog votes....

    Brad Delong wrote some quick notes on the Obama program for the Big Bankster Boiz, and in points one and two noted that the WH was working to have it called the Geithner program, thus deflecting responsibility from Obama, and also having Axelrod put about that it was all Geithner, thus laying groundwork for blaming Geithner if it fails.

    Summers, per ProPublica, was also a WH pointman on telling the House committee chairs what Obama wanted.

    Please, the buck stops with the president. Unless he's being handled and fooled by his advisers, which is very scary as well.

    Now, link hunting time.


    BBC, via NPR last night, was (none / 0) (#85)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:57:50 AM EST
    definitely calling this "Obama's" bill.  

    Links tp my comment above (none / 0) (#102)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:53:20 AM EST

    Shields: Transcript can be downloaded; audio available.


    ProPublica: Audio available, plus links to ProPublica articles and charts.

    Bonus ProPublica link: ProPublica charts comparing House to Senate stimulus bills, as of Feb. 10


    But neverless, (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by SOS on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:05:50 PM EST
    we shall continue to speak for the poor by telling them all the marvelous things they could do if they where already rich.

    Good Night

    Caution: Media Narrative Forming... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by santarita on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:05:59 PM EST
    If Stevenson is right in suggesting that Obama won this round but a loss of innocence with respect to how the Republicans will act, then we are all in big trouble.  The only loss of innocence is that of the Obama followers.  I'm assuming that Obama and his advisors weren't  born yesterday.  They know what the Republican game is.  And as much as I am skeptical of the rhetoric, Obama himself is saying that changing the atmosphere will take some time.  He knows that the rhetoric is so much tilting at windmills.  

    I dunno. Obama does come (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by Cream City on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 11:23:13 PM EST
    from a one-party system: Chicago.  He ought to have had his jousts with Repubs in his state legislature, but then again, his mentor really ran the show there, and Obama didn't have to fight battles; bllls were handed to him when they were primed to be passed.  Just the way it's done there, when pushing a protege to move up.

    Rahm ought to have been more of a fighter, though, as he was in Congress.  

    I think the problem is the confusion of campaigning vs. governing.  The method of governing seems to be campaigning, so maybe Axelrove is really Chief of Staff?

    I really didn't expect that the Chicago Troika would be so bad at this.  But that hardly means a loss of innocence, as they are no innocents!  They just seem to be awkward in D.C.  They need to listen a lot more to non-Chicagoans.


    Republicans in Chicago (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:41:51 AM EST
    are already marginalized, so it is possible to work with them the way Obama likes.

    It just does not translate to the Washington Republicans. I really thought Rahm understood that - how could he have served in the Clinton administration and missed that salient fact?  They will never be marginalized into cooperation, especially with Blue Dog Dems willing to support them. Calling their bluff on the filibuster will be the only way to get progressive policies passed. Harkin understands that. Let's hope people listen to him.


    Maybe Rahmbo isn't comfortable correcting his new (none / 0) (#84)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:57:35 AM EST
    boss's misperceptions about reality?

    And, as long as they can place blame elsewhere, they can make mistakes and The One stays golden....


    No loss there (1.00 / 0) (#101)
    by pluege on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:41:08 AM EST
    The only loss of innocence is that of the Obama followers.

    I don't see where Obamacans lost anything, they're as delusional as ever, still blindly recreating a manufactured reality around Obama as cult icon, employing upside-downism where every defeat is spun as a win.


    My foot (none / 0) (#54)
    by lentinel on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 06:02:21 AM EST
    "Loss of innocence" indeed.

    Obama has never been innocent.
    He has been playing to and expressing right-wing sentiments ever since he became convinced, rightly, that he could take the left for granted.


    What Obama and many progressives (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by pluege on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 07:51:35 AM EST
    don't seem to want to recognize is that bush spent (completely wasted) Americans wealth - its gone for at least the next generation and most likely considerably longer than that. They took it and distributed it among their plutocratic buddies. The republicans took an unsustainable economic scheme (otherwise known as American Capitalism) and made it infinitely worse (by design they sucked it dry for themselves). Even the sacred cow of $700 billion annual military expenditures is going to have to take a hit.

    There is no free lunch, never was, and America's day of reckoning with boundless waste, greed, and living beyond its means has arrived. There is no  more phony image of American wealth left to borrow against. Obama won't be implementing anything he promised, e.g., healthcare as long as republicans can make it look like spending.

    You speak truth. The truth cannot be told (none / 0) (#58)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:26:13 AM EST
    without kicking a** and naming names. As long as Obama refuses to do it, he can't make a case for health care or anything else.

    It is repetitive to say this was many of us's major objection to him all along, but I will say it again.


    Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by pluege on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:35:48 AM EST
    as the republicans demonstrated without doubt the last 8 years, you get what you want in American politics by using your power to the maximum extent. And though they may have taken a temporary political hit for it, they achieved ewvrything they wanted:

    • they bankrupted the country - Norquists drowning it in a bathtub- taking many future generations worth of America's wealth for themselves
    • were able to play imperial power with the bloated US military
    • undermined civil rights
    • engaged in criminal activity without paying any price
    • completely undermined any notion of American moral authority to avoid internationalism
    • further exaggerated and ensconced the ridiculous subservience of everything to the military
    • maintained domination over the public debate through control of the corporate media.
    • although in minority they still control the agenda, the debate, and the outcome

    Obama's 'can't we all just get along' approach is either a fools errand or intentional deception to not get anything of value done.

    Wealth is wealth until (none / 0) (#63)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:04:01 AM EST
    the system breaks down, then wealth is a concept.  We are getting to the place where wealth is a concept at this point.

    It seems to be time to talk about the (none / 0) (#1)
    by imhotep on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 09:59:52 PM EST
    mid-terms - who's up and which pukes are in trouble.

    I wouldn't mind talking about how (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by tigercourse on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:37:09 PM EST
    damn awful most of the Democrats deem to be. It's all very well and good to jones for another victory... but being electoral champs loses alot of luster when you find out your team is filled with a bunch of goldbrickers and game throwers.

    If Obama continues with this bipartisanship over (none / 0) (#94)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:11:27 AM EST
    achievement, lots of Dems will be in trouble. The remaining Repubs are mostly from very solid Red districts. Dem gains were in some Red and Purple districts. So, who will be at risk?

    Stay tuned!


    Unless Obama actually (none / 0) (#97)
    by dk on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:16:26 AM EST
    achieved what he wanted.  That would actually be a bigger problem, and much evidence points in that direction.

    An Appetizer (none / 0) (#2)
    by squeaky on Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:01:15 PM EST
    No doubt.

    I have mixed feelings about (none / 0) (#62)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 08:58:49 AM EST
    the article.  No, this is not a time for cigars.  This notion though that Obama focusing on alternative fuels, education costs and healthcare costs as well as the economy is not very doable or smart is total BUNK in my opinion.  This crisis also brings with it opportunity.  Middle class jobs created in coverting to more alternative fuel use are middle class jobs.  If we want to have any hope for our futures we can never stop looking at the education needs of the people....NEVER!  As for healthcare, it was time we were universal like the rest of the industrialized first world and this crisis could usher it in.  If it doesn't I will be surprised and probably consider it a personal failure on Obama's part.  This first stimulus package will not fix us though, we will need more.  Sad we can't get the nutso Republicans onboard, he is going to have to get it through his head this is going to be a fight.  He doesn't like fighting and after Dubya it is a little bit hard to not really really want to be done with bloodied noses.  What Dubya left us with and where his party stands on reality means Obama and Reid are going to have bloody noses and it isn't something they do very well at all.

    Repubs, I must admit, do know how to use crises to (none / 0) (#89)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:05:46 AM EST
    their advantage.

    This was supposed to be a chance to use one for the advantage of the nation overall, not just the uberwealthy. But Obama seems to want to preserve the Big Bankster Boiz personla wealth and standing.

    Perhaps to join them? Bcz they were early big money backers for his prez campaign? Bcz he'a a Center Right cautions politician?  

    Truly, I don't know.


    i hope not (none / 0) (#104)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:07:59 AM EST
    Obama should have watched ... (none / 0) (#75)
    by Robot Porter on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 09:37:02 AM EST
    "Yes, Prime Minister."  I recommend this as something that should have been on his viewing pile after the election.  

    A President's power in the first year comes from his public support.  But he won't have much power in Washington itself.  The entrenched interests always use this time to jockey for position.

    President after President gets rolled during this period.

    Had he but watched "Yes, Prime Minister" he would have understood this.

    So many miss the forrest through the trees (none / 0) (#105)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:26:05 AM EST
    So many are so convinced that if only this bill was bigger, had no tax cuts it would work.

    Those people are wrong.  This bill won't work, a biggger bill won't work and simply cutting taxes won't work.

    The economy is in free fall because the country, consumers and our banking system is in severe debt.  

    Until we allow people to loose money, for companies to fail, for government spending to be reduced that debt will be a weight around all of our collective necks that we will be paying for a generation.

    Furthermore the only thing this stimulus did do is create government entities that will require more spending and debt creation down the road that will be politicaly impossible to stop.

    I am very gloomy because the idea that GOP ideals of low government spending and a belief in capatalist ideals got us in this mess is ludicrous.

    Government overspending and meddling got us in this mess and the fact that it was done by the GOP recently is giving liberals the excuse to blame conservative principles.   Conservatives weren't acting like conservatives when they increased government spending while cutting taxes and mucking up the financial industry.  They where acting like big government officials and now we have the real thing in a democraticly controlled government and this stimulus is just going to make things worse.

    This debt is not going away.  We are goign to have the highest percentage of GDP debt since WWII and unless somebody starts capetbombinb Asia and Western Europe as they did in WWII we are goign to have a hard time paying it back.

    More spending is the last thing we need.

    Economists sound off (none / 0) (#107)
    by Slado on Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 11:36:08 AM EST

    It seems we can all agree on at least one thing.  This bill sucks.