Bold, Swift Action: Is the Stimulus Bill Enough?

In the WaPo today, President Barack Obama writes:

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Is the economic stimulus plan looking bold and wise enough (on the swift part, Obama is trying)? Obama's opening proposal was too timid and not near enough to stem the tide of this economic calamity imo. But it is better than nothing I suppose. Of course, Fred Hiatt and the WaPo Editorial Board and the typical Beltway "bipartisan" BSers not only feel no sense of urgency -- they simply have no grasp of the magnitude of the problem:

Even potentially meritorious items, such as $2.1 billion for Head Start, or billions more to computerize medical records, do not belong in legislation whose reason for being is to give U.S. economic growth a "jolt," as Mr. Obama himself has put it. All other policy priorities should pass through the normal budget process, which involves hearings, debate and -- crucially -- competition with other programs.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is one of the moderate Republicans whose support the president must win if he is to garner the 60 Senate votes needed to pass a stimulus package. She and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska are working on a plan that would carry a lower nominal price tag than the current bill -- perhaps $200 billion lower -- but which would focus on aid to states, "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects, food stamp increases and other items calculated to boost business and consumer spending quickly. On the revenue side, she would keep Mr. Obama's priorities, including a $500-per-worker tax rebate.

Rome is burning and the Neros of the Beltway insist on fiddling to no effect. Today's jobs report is expected to show another half million jobs lost in January. But the Beltway wants "hearings." Disgraceful.

I wish that Obama had evoked the FDR Oglethorpe speech I keep referencing:

It is toward that objective that we must move if we are to profit by our recent experiences. Probably few will disagree that the goal is desirable. Yet many, of faint heart, fearful of change, sitting tightly on the roof-tops in the flood, will sternly resist striking out for it, lest they fail to attain it. Even among those who are ready to attempt the journey there will be violent differences of opinion as to how it should be made. So complex, so widely distributed over our whole society are the problems which confront us that men and women of common aim do not agree upon the method of attacking them. Such disagreement leads to doing nothing, to drifting. Agreement may come too late.

Let us not confuse objectives with methods. Too many so-called leaders of the Nation fail to see the forest because of the trees. Too many of them fail to recognize the vital necessity of planning for definite objectives. True leadership calls for the setting forth of the objectives and the rallying of public opinion in support of these objectives.

Do not confuse objectives with methods. When the Nation becomes substantially united in favor of planning the broad objectives of civilization, then true leadership must unite thought behind definite methods.

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. The millions who are in want will not stand by silently forever while the things to satisfy their needs are within easy reach.

We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!

FDR could have been talking about the Fred Hiatts, Ben Nelsons, Susan Collinses and other such "bipartisan" BSers - clueless, fearful and unwilling to provide bold leadership. Let us hope that Obama is willing, as FDR was, to sweep aside such living obstacles to the bold and swift action we need. Our nation depends upon it.

Speaking for me only

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    Needs to mobilize the troops (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by Coral on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:49:05 AM EST
    As Theda Skocpol said at TPM yesterday, Obama has given the Republicans too much leverage. This is what I feared during the primary season when he kept talking about getting beyond partisanship.

    I am deeply worried because family members are in jobs that are threatened if the stimulus doesn't pass.

    I hope Obama can get Democrats to mobilize and start pressing action, better using the media. It is hard to comprehend how they can have been taken by surprise by the concerted GOP opposition.

    Well, I think they imagined that (none / 0) (#2)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 07:53:49 AM EST
    the Republicans would not risk economic catastrophe for political gain.

    One thing you can be sure of, (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:19:01 AM EST
    those who finance the GOP never risk their own economic catastrophe.  Think of them as the casino owners, whether the players win or lose the house always comes out OK.  

    The only risk for these very few is a successful Obama handling of the economic crisis, which would require changes to the game itself.  That they cannot abide today anymore than they could in FDR's time.  


    I think it is because Obama got a free ride (5.00 / 5) (#12)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:21:39 AM EST
    during the campaign from the media and even from Republicans. McCain really did not go after Obama the way Lee Atwater/Karl Rove would have. Heck, he never brought up the Tony Rezko relationship which could have been very damaging given that Obama was running on his superior judgement. (Just look at how much has been made about his so-called relationship with Blago.) This lulled him and his team to believe they were geniuses at handling PR. They are shell-shocked by the thrashing they are getting now. EJ Dionne says in his column today:"Obama aides dismiss the media coverage as "cable chatter" important only inside the "Washington echo chamber". Bet they are learning fast just how wrong that is.

    I have discussed this many times with Dems who pointed to Obama's superiority in managing the media as proof that he was the best candidate.  When the media prefers a candidate it is not a big accomplishment. When they hate you there is not much a candidate can do to change the narrative. This takes a concerted effort from your party - something the Democrats just don't do.


    Very much so. (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Fabian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:49:51 AM EST
    I'm an NPR/PBS person and even there, the Republicans are getting a LOT of air time to shoot down the stimulus package.

    This is not good.  Obama needs eloquent people to get on the Sunday talkies and talk up the stimulus package.

    Remember - the Media loves their drama.  They aren't looking for warm, fuzzy kumbaya moments.  They want no holds barred political cage matches.  They like fighters.


    Even Barney Frank isn't on top of this (none / 0) (#31)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05:49 AM EST
    Frank is a good spokesperson but last Sunday on ABC's "This Week" he allowed a very powerful Republican talking point to go unchallenged. Jim DeMint advocated cutting corporate tax rates because "we have the highest corporate tax rates in the world" and Frank let it go.
    This claim is a much-repeated right wing talking point that is easily remembered by the average American. It is believed by many because Democrats have failed to counter it by pointing out that this is not the true rate companies pay. They get to deduct expenses for things we want to encourage such as R&D, employee health care coverage, capital investments, etc. When Dems let these claims go unanswered people reasonably assume that they are true.

    The problem, though, is (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by dk on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:11:50 AM EST
    that the stimulus package Obama proposed is NOT GOOD!  Ok, I'm sympathetic at this point to the argument that something is better than nothing, but no reasonable person could go out in public and say honestly that this bill is going to do enough to get us out of the mess we are in.

    He was aided by the media's Clinton hatred (none / 0) (#70)
    by esmense on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:10:35 AM EST
    in the primary and saved by the crashing economy (and, to some extent, media hostility to Palin) in the general (McCain was actually pulling ahead before the banks and financial institutions began to fail). Obama didn't run a positive, agenda and policy based campaign as much as he ran a passive-aggressive campaign that relied heavily on exploiting and encouraging hostility toward Clinton in the primary and, naturally enough, disgust and fatique with Bush and the Republicans in the general. In that environment, his message of "hope" and "change" never really needed to be more specific than "not those awful guys."

    But now he is governing, and he needs to be able to communicate, and persuade the public to accept, a very positive, very specific plan of action. In this environment, unspecified "change" and "hope" and claiming to be more pure than the other guy is not enough.

    Can the the communication team that connected Dean to Osama Bin Laden in 2004, painted Bill Clinton as a racist and told us Hillary "didn't cry for Katrina" in 2008, create a powerful positive message? We'll have to wait and see.


    What? (none / 0) (#72)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:48:24 AM EST
    I have no idea what you're referring to here.

    "the communication team that connected Dean to Osama Bin Laden in 2004"


    Robert Gibbs - Press Secretary (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 12:28:00 PM EST
    Here's the ad

    Between Kerry and Obama, Gibbs worked for a third-party political group that threw sharp elbows in the 2004 Iowa caucuses--including a television ad that used a picture of Osama bin Laden to criticize Howard Dean's foreign policy credentials.



    Thanks (none / 0) (#97)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:31:39 PM EST
    I hadn't realize Gibbs was responsible for that one.

    Gibbs and other members of Obama's (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by esmense on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 12:29:03 PM EST
    election communication team worked for Daschle in 2004. In the Iowa primary that year Daschle and Kerry teamed up to defeat Dean. To that purpose Gibbs created an extemely offensive ad, using the image of Bin Laden and echoing typical Republican talking points and fear mongering against Democrats (questioning their patriotism, accusing them of weakness)against Dean. In fact, Gibbs and Plouffe have a history of using negative campaigning and Republican talking points and methods against fellow Democrats -- very effectively. As they did against Clinton in the primary.

    If you don't know about the Bin Laden ad, perhaps you weren't following the campaign very closely at that point. I've had a decades long distaste for this kind of negative campaigning and was totally shocked to see Democrats use what I thought of as despicable and beyond the pale tactics against a fellow Democrat. So it made a big impression on me. Not so much because I was a Dean supporter (I was undecided at that point) but because I thought that in using such low Republican attacks against fellow Democrats they were in affect legtitimizing those arguments and conceding their correctness.  In other words, sacrificing the long term good of the party for a short time advantage for their candidate.  


    Oh, I remember it well (none / 0) (#96)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:31:10 PM EST
    I just didn't realize Gibbs was behind it.  Yech.

    I agree with everything you say.


    Not everything they communicated was negative (none / 0) (#73)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:48:33 AM EST
    but the positive messages were extremely general and vague. "Change you can believe in" is hardly a blueprint for governing. I have never heard Obama do a good job of tying his general ideas to specific proposals. Bill Clinton was very good at this which is why, even though the press derided them as boring "laundry lists", the public liked his State of the Union speeches.

    As I type this I am listening to David Brinkley gushing over Reagan and pointing out how even Obama has praised him. Brinkley says he is one of the five greatest modern presidents. Will Bunch started the show talking about the harm the myth of Reagan has caused.


    Did you (none / 0) (#82)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:40:13 PM EST
    not listen to the acceptance speech in Denver it was largely a laundry list, its one of the reasons it went over so well here. `

    Wait (none / 0) (#81)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:39:12 PM EST
    I'm sorry, while I agree that Obama benefited from the moment- Americans by and large didn't want another republican or a continuation of the Bush-Clinton run, I think you're selling way short the fact that Obama ran more of a positive campaign than any canidate in recent memory.

    No one will take you seriously (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:50:39 PM EST
    when you refer to the "Bush-Clinton" era.

    REALLY? (none / 0) (#86)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:46:47 PM EST
    Hmmm....I guess many of us missed that.

    Are these people morons? (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by Steve M on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:00:05 AM EST
    Computerizing medical records is a jobs program!  If this were the New Deal, the Washington Post would be saying that rural electrification is a noble idea, but it doesn't belong in the stimulus bill.

    Nice analogy (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:05:43 AM EST
    In answer to the question in your heading . . . (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:05:45 AM EST

    from the NYT (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by lilburro on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:46:34 AM EST

    Initiatives that critics hope to remove from the bill include $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department, $1 billion for the National Science Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $400 million for climate change research.

    These iniatives seem to have longer-term benefits than tax credits for buying a car or a house.


    however (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:55:30 AM EST
    those longer terms benefits are not targeted directly and exclusively to the wealthiest among us, hence the vociferous GOP opposition.

    Reinflating the housing bubble, on the other hand, props up the value of the real estate-related investments of the investing class.


    I don't know much about economics (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by lilburro on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05:02 AM EST
    but I would assume that yes, a tax credit might temporarily stimulate the housing market, but it would probably lead to a lot of unwise, unsustainable home buying as well.  Or it would just not work because people would STILL be too creeped out to buy a home and pay for a mortage in an economy so deep in the crapper.

    Why is this 15,000$ housing credit in the bill?


    I don;t know why (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:12:40 AM EST
    and am not certain of the economic benefits of it.  What happens to home prices when the credit is no longer in place?  Another decline?

    It seems a roundabout way to use public funds to prop up value of the "toxic" sliced and diced mortgage securities that banks are holding.  More subtle than the abhorrent outright purchase of these instruments by  the government that Summers and Geithner and Obama propose.

    Just nationalize these banks.  This approach has the added benefit that it actually worked in Sweden.


    It does kind of seem like (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:18:43 AM EST
    putting frosting on a cow pie.

    I think it is really unethical to offer (5.00 / 6) (#39)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:12:57 AM EST
    people 15k to get sucked into the housing market at this time. The way to stabilize the market is to help the people that already have underwater mortgages, not create more of them, and lose federal dollars in the process.

    For example, person A owes 200k on a house now worth 185k. Giving that person a 15k credit might keep him from walking away from that house, thus helping to stabilize the prices in his neighborhood.  


    A second good point (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:17:22 AM EST
    I'm going to have to start making it a point to read your posts

    this all seems kind of logical (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by lilburro on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:22:21 AM EST
    so now my response is, WTF Senate?  DKos diarist slinkerwink in a rec'd diary says, quoting HuffPo, "...the Senate had removed the House provision that would allow people 55 and over who are laid off to continue COBRA coverage at a subsidized rate until they're 65 and eligible for Medicare. The House version also made folks who were laid off temporarily eligible for Medicaid; the Senate version strips that out, Jost found. Every one percent increase in unemployment throws more than a million people into the ranks of the uninsured."

    So yeah, taking away people's security when it comes to healthcare does not bode well for creating consumer confidence, IMO.  


    How does any of that help (none / 0) (#104)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Feb 06, 2009 at 01:10:56 AM EST
    Americans who have no jobs?  Yes, anyone who lives near Washington might benefit, but what about the rest of the country?  Obama needs to explain how $1 billion to the NSF helps the average American.  He hasn't done that.  Yet.

    Is it a "buy American" jobs plan? (5.00 / 5) (#30)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05:27 AM EST
    Hope so.  My son had a (college student type of parttime) job inputting medical records a couple of years ago.  He and a lot of others, many of them fulltimers, lost the job -- replaced by overseas workers.

    An advantage of the infrastructure jobs in this plan is that we apparently haven't yet found a way to send our roads and bridges overseas for repair.


    Bringing back the call centers is underway (none / 0) (#54)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:22:23 AM EST
    I saw something late last week on the dramatic surge of complaints the companies who sent their call centers overseas were getting. Not because the jobs were in other countries, but the quality of the customer service was so bad the problems customers called in with were unable to be resolved.  

    So, numerous US companies are getting ready to bring home the call centers. Not to get too excited, though...it will require a monthly fee to the customers who want access to help.


    Overseas call centers (none / 0) (#74)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:58:08 AM EST
    The problem with doing this, from the companies' and consumers' point of view, is that there simply aren't enough clear English-speaking folks in these other countries who are willing/able to work in them.  I've had dealings with some of them that are just excruciating-- heavy, heavy, to me incomprehensible accents, so I have to ask the person to repeat each statement sometimes two or three times before I can understand what they're saying.  I've even had callbacks on my answering machine I can't return because I can't understand a single word the person is saying.

    At least with the companies I deal with, I've noticed some returning to U.S.-based call centers, which is just a huge, huge relief.

    So in addition to it being unfair to U.S. workers, it's just not practical.  They'd have to invest a great deal of money in months of language/speaking training for overseas folks to get them to a point where they could do this adequately.

    I'm dubious about this monthly fee business, though, unless it's really tiny, like a buck or two.  I'd switch in a heartbeat to a competitor who didn't require it.


    Don't be silly (none / 0) (#83)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:43:29 PM EST
    Computers aren't jobs their magical things that you use to get others to research your stories for you- construction now that's a job. /sarc

    But, yeah the above is basically the attitude of the beltway clique- they can't seem to accept that even low wage jobs in America are largely office related now a days, and they seem to fetishize only a section of jobs- steel work, mill work, coal miner- all dirty and dangerous- but also all increasingly irrelevant in any real jobs program.


    It is not bold enough! (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:00:26 AM EST
    The bill is not "better than nothing," it is a disaster.  If it passes and no discernible improvement occurs we will need an even bigger bill but Obama will not have the political capital to get it.  The GOP will scream "We already spent $X00billion for nothing," why spend anything else?  No bill is better, at least that way when the need for a larger stimulus becomes all too apparent Obama can say "I told you so" and not have to deal with what the GOP will describe as a failed track record.

    The PResident should reject all GOP tax cuts & include the employment tax cut only.  He should then increase funding for public works by 50% and shove the bill in McConnell's face.  He should camp out in Portland, Maine with unemployed workers and their families and dare Snow and Collins to vote against it.  Biden should camp out in Louisiana and do the same for Landruiex(sic).

    A GOP tweaked bill is the worst possible outcome at this point.  It enhances GOP prestige, will not work, and sets the stage for no effective bill down the road.  And crisis will become catastrophe.  And the GOP will regain power which is always their only goal in all of this.

    I see employment tax cuts as the first (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:34:51 AM EST
    step toward dismantling social security. I don't think they should be in any bill.

    Other than that, I like your approach.


    Good point (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:05:52 AM EST
    ultimately the cap on earnings must be abolished and a progressive structure imposed.  Something like 3% for the first 50k of income, then up a bit for the next 50 and 5% over 100K. Don;t hold me to the actual percentages, just the concept.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#56)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:24:07 AM EST
    I'm fine with Obama's idea of a commission to look at long term tweaks to SS. It is not in immediate danger, and I don't want to see it messed with before it is studied specifically, not as a half-baked tax cut in a stimulus bill.

    Regarding weakening SS with tax cuts (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:03 AM EST
    did you see Krauthammer proposed we increase the gas tax but pay for it by decreasing payroll taxes? That is clearly a sneaky way to weaken SS to pave the way for completely dismantling it. The sainted, BIPARTISAN Richard Lugar endorsed this idea in the WaPo giving it more credibility. Watch for that to be put into the stimulus plan next.

    Speaking of SS, if Dems had half a brain they would be repeatedly asking how people would feel if Republicans had succeeded in getting our SS money invested in the market. My husband has been having a lot of fun asking his right wing relatives this question. It shuts them up quickly.


    All very worrisome (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:25:22 AM EST
    The company provided "pension" plans are all but gone. The 401K that replaced it just tanked for millions of people (both because of the market dive, and the huge loss of job trend), and now the groundwork for abolishing the SS system is underway.  

    I think if they would call it Social Security (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:26:27 AM EST
    and Medicare premiums, instead of "payroll tax", people would understand that they may be giving something up in the future by cutting them now. It's all in the language.

    Anyone have an idea (none / 0) (#85)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:46:16 PM EST
    I'd bet money that Krauthammer went after Obama as "elitist" for not backing the gas tax thing last Summer.

    I like your suggestions. (none / 0) (#5)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:01:24 AM EST
    Oooh! (none / 0) (#75)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 12:00:16 PM EST
    Love the image of the president camping out with unemployed Mainers!  Have you ever considered going into political consulting?  You have a knack for it, I think. (And we could use you on the side of the good guys, god know!)

    political consulting? (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:26:05 PM EST
    my general loathing of politicians might limit my opportunities in that field.  Of course, the way this economy is going I might have to take whatever work I can get.

    The President is at the end of the day simply the most succesful politican in the US at the time.  Like all politicians, he or she is either doing what you want or not.  Right now, and through his cabinet selection period, Obama is most definitely not.  I hope he rights things but I see that as unlikely for a variety of reasons not least of which is he apparently believes this bi-partisan BS.


    You're not alone in saying it 's Not Bold Enough-- (none / 0) (#93)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:14:31 PM EST
    Please make it stop (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:06:03 AM EST
    Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is one of the moderate Republicans whose support the president must win if he is to garner the 60 Senate votes needed to pass a stimulus package.

    I think I said I wouldn't complain about this anymore, but I can't help it. Is it too much to ask for the press to describe this accurately, ie. "60 Senate votes needed to break a possible filibuster"?

    Actually (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:07:26 AM EST
    the filibuster threat is a canard anyway.

    this can be treated as budget reconciliation and bypass the cloture motion entirely.


    Better yet! (none / 0) (#10)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:10:08 AM EST
    I wish that were so (none / 0) (#47)
    by andgarden on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:13 AM EST
    Actually, I think you can only use reconciliation to set spending and tax levels, but not to actually appropriate.

    And, in fact, if (none / 0) (#58)
    by andgarden on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:25:45 AM EST
    the Dems tried to put spending in a budget reconciliation, the Republicans would raise a "Byrd rule" point of order (subject to the 60 vote threshold to overcome).

    yer harshing my mellow (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:28:06 AM EST
    thanks a lot! ;-)

    Simple answer to simple question: Filibuster is (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:08:20 PM EST
    a word used to describe Dems' resistance to Repub measures. Getting 60 votes to pass if how the resistance of Repubs to Dem legislation is described.

    See? Simple. Bad connotation words for Dems; neutral or misleading for Repubs.


    Break it up into multiple stimulus bills (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by joanneleon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:22:49 AM EST
    We're playing right into the Republicans' hands. This doesn't have to be like a monster omnibus bill.  It can easily be broken up into multiple stimulus bills, and the message should be that this is only one of many bills to come.

    FDR talks about experimentation.  I agree with that.  You keep trying things and find the things that work.  In my business we call it throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.  It's not the recommended way of operating.  It's what you do when in a crisis.  And, hello?  Republicans?  We're in a crisis.

    Republicans see this as their only chance to make a big fuss and pretend to be fiscal conservatives, and to use their ever popular smear tactics of painting Democrats as irresponsible tax and spend liberals.  They use this tactic because... they got nothin'.  But the foolish Democrats are letting them get away with it and the Republican minority is controlling the message right now.

    Dems should immediately peel off the parts of the stimulus bill that can pass.  Obama needs to get off the defense and get on the offense, and he needs to send out an army of Dems, both Congressional and not, into the media, day and night, to sell this.  He needs to find out which Republicans oppose "Package A" and name names in public.  He needs to bring the mayors to the White House and do a press conference with them.

    While one person is working on Package A, other prominent Dems should be working on Packages B, C, D and so on.  Make the bills discrete and understandable, so the debate doesn't go off the rails and on all kinds of tangents, and so that Republicans can't attack 1% of the bill and by doing so make it look like the whole thing is a turd.  

    Dems could easily take control of this thing.  Why aren't they doing it?  This is the same old way of doing things in Washington.  This bill needs to be done differently.

    President Obama made it a goal (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by WS on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:30:33 AM EST
    to have a "bi-partisan" stimulus bill.  I have no idea why.  People care about results, Mr. President, not if Ds and Rs work together.  

    I agree that Stimuli bills would would work much better.


    The things that would be peeled off (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:55:03 AM EST
    are a lot of the things that would be the most effective, quick stimuli. There is great outrage over the parts that are derided as "welfare" - food stamps, extending the the tax credits for people who are too poor to pay income taxes, etc.

    On cable shows like 'Morning Joe' there has been a lot of trashing of these as not being stimulating for the economy - Mika B is one big offender - even though government data show they are actually the most effective. For example one dollar in food stamp expenditures returns about $1.75 to the economy. Tax cuts puts in much less than a dollar's worth. Erin Burnett actually corrected Mika and gang at one point but that hasn't stopped them. They need to hear it more than once and from more than one person IMO.

    Everyone keeps saying people are entitled to their own opinions but when you host a political talk show for a network you should not be allowed to get away with spreading demonstrably false information. NBC news ought to crack down on this kind of misleading of viewers if they want to have any credibility.


    That ship sailed long ago (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:06:19 AM EST
    NBC news ought to crack down on this kind of misleading of viewers if they want to have any credibility.

    The sooner more people realize NBC has no credibility, the sooner we can get a better media. The errors you point out have to be pointed out by Dems in other venues, and they need to call out NBC by name as being misleading. That's the only way it will stop. But they won't for fear of not being invited back on the discredited network. It's a viscous circle.


    Slimy, yes. Vicious, too. :-) (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:08:45 AM EST
    Ha - thanks! I knew that didn't look right (none / 0) (#40)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:16:34 AM EST
    but hey, it passed spellcheck! Funny. Yes, it works both ways.

    Unfortunately it is not just NBC (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:29:48 AM EST
    that is doing this kind of thing. CNN is a big offender too which means anyone who gets their political info from cable might as well be watching Fox.

    I don't think most of these media shills are right wingers but they are hearing only the right wing's point of view and are too lazy to do their homework. I think if they had a lot of complaints from viewers and push back from Dems on their shows - push back that is backed up with facts - at least some of these ignoramuses would wise up. Not to mention Democratic leaders could complain to higher ups when false information is being sold to the public.  


    TV (none / 0) (#64)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:33:44 AM EST
    I moved last weekend so haven't seen tv now (cable not yet hooked up) in over a week.

    Have the media been interviewing the Democrats who voted NAY?


    Grover Norquist still putting out his talking pts? (none / 0) (#90)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:06:08 PM EST
    Or do the come form the RNC, still?

    Or does management get the hosts up to speed on what they want them to say?


    Obama has undercut the Dems with his making (none / 0) (#98)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:34:32 PM EST
    bipartisanship, including Repub "ideas," a high priority. Even tho' they are discredited Repub economic ideas!

    Now the Senate has responded to his urgings to please the crybaby Repubs by taking out the extended COBRA coverage for those over 55 who lose their jobs. Allowing those laid off temporary access to Medicaid? Out.

    What is this? The Scrooge Stimulus Bill? Are there no workhouses? No health insurance? Well, the better to decrease the surplus population!

    Scrooge:  I can't afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support the establishments I mentioned through taxation, and God knows they cost more than they're worth. Those who are badly off must go there.
    2nd Portly Gentleman:  Many would rather die than go there.
    Scrooge:  If they'd rather die, they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.

    Help! We need some leadership!

    Help!: The Beatles  

    Help, I need somebody,
    Help, not just anybody,
    Help, you know I need someone,

    When I was younger, so much younger than today,
    I never needed anybody's help in anyway.
    But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
    Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors.

    Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being 'round.
    Help me get my feet back on the ground,
    Won't you please, please help me?

    And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
    My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
    But every now and then I feel so insecure,
    I know that I just need you like, I've never done before.

    Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
    And I do appreciate you being 'round.
    Help me get my feet back on the ground,
    Won't you please, please help me?

    When I was younger, so much younger than today,
    I never needed anybody's help in anyway.
    But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
    Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors.

    Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
    And i do appreciate you being 'round.
    Help me get my feet back on the ground,
    Won't you please, please help me?
    Help me,
    Help me,

    Good news, bad news (5.00 / 4) (#15)
    by BernieO on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:31:26 AM EST
    I am reading a lot of liberal pundits who are realizing that Obama's people are losing the media war and are urging them to fight back instead of wringing their hands over bipartisanship (that last letter should be a 't', IMO).

    What worries me is that most seem to view the responsibility as Obama's, not the entire party's.  The reason that the bill is in big trouble is that even Democratic members of Congress are hearing from large numbers of people who have heard the propaganda and are urging them to vote against the bill. Unless Dems speak out as a group - leaders as well as rank-and-file -  to both their representatives and the media this bill will be watered down even more than it has been. Unfortunately, too many Dems have been swayed by the right wing spin that has been all over the mainstream media for the past couple of weeks. It will be very hard to change their minds now.

    Well duh! (5.00 / 5) (#25)
    by Fabian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:56:31 AM EST
    It's the Obama party now!

    That's what so many people were supporting in the primaries and general election.  Not actual Democrats but some kind of nonpartisan Obama party.  

    Be careful what you wish for.


    Bipartisan, nonpartisan, and (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Cream City on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:07:58 AM EST
    postpartisan actually have different meanings, different methods.  They're all getting muddled.  Not only by media but also, I fear, by the White House.

    But then, who knows what Obamans thought they wanted?  Other than mortgages paid for them -- and ponies!


    Gail Collins, (5.00 / 3) (#68)
    by KeysDan on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:12:22 AM EST
    an often underestimated NYTimes columnist, addresses the need to give the stimulus bill a big hug.  She points out what many commenters here have been saying--that thanks to the Republicans, the public has gotten the idea that its all a boondoggle, something that President Obama has not been good at contradicting.  And, it seems to me that the president is, essentially, the only one speaking on behalf of the bill. The congressional Democrats are busy removing anything Republicans complain about, in their one-way notion of bipartisanship.  The press secretary is almost useless, and we  have not yet heard much from Secretary Geithner or other economic gurus (although it is best to keep Larry Summers in his cubicle). The teleprompter needs to be cranked up, and the President needs to give his best speech, ever, to quickly turn this around.  

    Gee, how could this have happened ? (none / 0) (#89)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:03:46 PM EST
    Gail Collins:

    ...thanks to the Republicans, the public has gotten the idea that its all a boondoggle, something that President Obama has not been good at contradicting.

    Ya think? Where has our great communicator of the 21st Century been during all this??

    Actually, Obama has seemed to be fairly hands off so far. He talks about the Obama Stimulus Bill as if, actually, he didn't have much to do with it. If he had been more hands on, perhaps he would take pride of ownership.

    Perhaps he wouldn't be ripping things out of the bill if he had worked with the House to craft the thing. Whassup with that standoffishness?

    Maybe he's so insecure he wants all blame to fall on the Congressional Dems. Urging Dems to add Repub tax cuts so they can take some of the blame as well?

    I wish Obama could ariculate to the public what he sees as the reasons for the stimulus, what the parts are expected to do, and why we should go into debt to achieve those goals. He's been pretty amorphous--but, oh, so keen on bipartisanship.

    Perhaps if he cared more about the effects on the economy for all of us and less on his desire to get Repubs on board, we could have a bill which is targeted to what are the best things to do.

    Now, that might require his listening to people who aren't involved in the actions which created the Big Sh$t Pile and created all those exotic financial instruments. Those Big Bankster Boiz do seem to still be in charge.


    They won't even pass what they agree (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:32:22 AM EST
    on without some kind of bargain in place on the stuff they don't agree on. I've never worked in an area where horsetrading is the name of the game, so I don't know if this is a legitimate method of operation or not. I do think your idea is very appealing!

    The above was supposed to be a reply to #13 (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:32:57 AM EST
    He's writing op-eds on the Post? (5.00 / 4) (#50)
    by andgarden on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:54 AM EST
    WTF is wrong with him? I mean, really.

    Um (none / 0) (#87)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:48:48 PM EST
    what? Hey, andgarden in 1932 "Man that FDR 'fireside chat' what a hack!"

    If this is like a fireside chat (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by andgarden on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:11:39 PM EST
    I'm like Mickey Mouse.

    What I think about the stimulus check (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by Luna3120 on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:16:22 PM EST
    I wanted to find a place where my voice would be heard, and I hope it might make a difference. I'm 20 years old, a college student, I could really really use a stimulus check but! My parents still claim me as a dependent so I don't get one.

    Students could really use this money, and can afford to spend the money in ways to boost the economy. They can either buy something they always wanted to get, or make an early payment on a student loan.

    Of course I am biased when I say this, and I'm assuming that the last stimulus check will be the same as the last one. If your claimed as a depedent than you don't make the requirements.

    Don't forgot about us students! We are your future!

    How does this bill help in the long-run? (none / 0) (#21)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:53:08 AM EST
    I understand why people would be flippant in response to the republican's non-nonsensical reasoning behind their votes - but where is this confidence in the stimulus bill coming from?  

    If we pump up demand through the gov - how does this restore confidence in the future - especially when we'll be inflating or borrowing on top of today's absurd levels?  It would seem to serve the same role as the New Deal which was to keep prices sticky rather than allow deflation to reset market valuation and force inefficient structures into liquidation.  This turned a recession into a frozen economy.

    We're treating symptoms with the same methods that produced the problem initially.  

    I suspect (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Steve M on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 08:55:34 AM EST
    that you won't find many takers here for the debunked theory that the New Deal made the Depression worse.

    Unfamiliar with Keynes clearly (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:01:04 AM EST
    I'm familiar... (none / 0) (#34)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:07:21 AM EST
    I haven't found an explanation for how innefficient business structure will turn efficient over the duration and after this spending - it seems that it can only serve to maintain and further entrench.  If someone wants to fill me in great - if not that's fine too.  

    I think you need to review your Keynes (none / 0) (#52)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:21:44 AM EST
    In all seriousness.

    I'm sorry... (none / 0) (#55)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:23:58 AM EST
    but last I checked it doesn't account for inter-temporal business structures - making it a pretty poor theory.  I'm being honest as well.

    Suggest something for me to look at or summarize a response - I'd appreciate it.  I don't like arguing in the dark which is what one of us must be doing.


    Well (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:53:46 AM EST
    now we have it - on macroeconomic theory, you reject Keynes. Why not say so in the first place?

    Why I reject is more important (none / 0) (#69)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:17:17 AM EST
    If I just say "I reject Keynes" that doesn't actually mean anything and won't further anyone's knowledge on the subject.  I've named specific phenomena which the theory doesn't account for or the current application of the theory does not address.  

    Why attach a label to myself when I can exhibit my reasoning and provoke open-mindedness on both ends of the discussion.  

    If I say "I reject!" and am wrong - well I won't ever find out why.  The current approach has at least shown me some of your interpretation of the theory and it's relation to the world.

    Why would you want me to?


    Takers? (none / 0) (#49)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:50 AM EST
    Not interested (none / 0) (#76)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 12:11:54 PM EST
    Find an economics blog if you're interested in trying to convince people of your economic theories.  If you can't get the basic point that spending -- by anybody -- juices up the economy to a point where we can then start to worry about inter-business whatsis, there's no point trying to argue with you here.

    We're going over a cliff.  Got to pull that back first or nothing else is going to matter.


    I was asking what he meant by that... (none / 0) (#79)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:28:07 PM EST
    I like this blog.  It began to discuss an economic issue so I engaged in the discussion.

    I'm not concerned with necessarily convincing people of what I believe - rather of understanding their reasoning, illustrating my own and for all involved to gain something if possible.  

    Bearing that in mind, I hope you will find the following at least interesting - or be now feel motivated to respond for my benefit where you see the flaws in logic.  

    I understand your point, that spending will generate velocity within the economy.  What I don't understand is the presupposition that maintaining or increasing the level of inflation won't result in a much larger deflationary process in the future.  

    In response specifically to the metaphor put forth:  The monetary policies of the Fed and the fiscal policies of the government are what brought us to the current deflationary precipice.  The height of this drop is a function of the current inflation in asset values and corresponding unprofitable business structures that could only be profitable in the period of "easy money" the Fed created.  

    The proposed solution of the stimulus is to avoid falling off the cliff now by attempting to climb to an even higher cliff - not by going by backing up gradually accurate price levels.  When we reach this new plateau (as we did after the tech bubble, after 9/11 and again now) our footing will be more ambiguous and the drop will be larger than ever.

    I mean no hostility towards you or you mental faculties by disagreeing and hope to hear a response. I find it important to indicate that my critiques are not those of the republican party which forms it's criticisms out of ignorance or the purposeful obfuscation of the real debate this country should be having.


    I'm not an economist (none / 0) (#95)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 02:29:10 PM EST
    and not in a position to debate with you knowledgeably whether we got in this position because of the fiscal policies of the government and the monetary policies of the Fed or not, but I suspect that's not the case since you appear to have   a libertarian bias against government involvement in economic issues.

    "the presupposition that maintaining or increasing the level of inflation won't result in a much larger deflationary process in the future."  There is no inflation now, there is stasis leaning towards deflation.  This stimulus bill, or even a much, much bigger one, won't suddenly magically bring back full employment and roaring inflation.  If your main concern is having a gradual rather than an abrupt recovery, you need not worry about it.

    The most a huge stimulus bill would do is stop the slide.  The one we've got now, I think, won't even do that, it will just slow the rate of the slide.

    I'll say it again.  Unless you're willing to sacrifice millions of individual Americans and hundreds of thousands of businesses large and small by letting everybody and everything fail and right itself again through those vaunted market forces, major government spending right now is absolutely critical.

    The stimulus bill is in no way "climbing up an even higher cliff," and it will not suddenly add value to housing or anything else.  I agree with you that values have to return to a sustainable level, but unless you're prepared to accept massive pain throughout the economy and to individuals' lives, that needs to happen gradually, not in a great, big crash.

    Let me try another metaphor.  When you've got a huge gash in your leg and you're bleeding out, you need a tourniquet to stop the bleeding right away.  After you stop the bleeding is when you figure out whether antibiotics or amputation is the solution to the damage to the limb.

    I agree entirely that those decisions have to be made, but allowing the patient to bleed out while you're thinking about it will make the discussion entirely moot.

    Final point.  Yes, markets are ultimately self-correcting if left alone, but the human destruction that occurs in the process is unacceptable to me and should be unacceptable to any modern society.


    Good points. (none / 0) (#100)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 03:00:53 PM EST
    "and not in a position to debate with you knowledgeably whether we got in this position because of the fiscal policies of the government and the monetary policies of the Fed or not, but I suspect that's not the case since you appear to have   a libertarian bias against government involvement in economic issues." - This is a circumstanntial ad hominem or guilt by association:

    # Person A makes claim X.
    # Person B makes an attack on A's circumstances.
    # Therefore X is false.

    # It is pointed out that people person A does not like accept claim P.
    # Therefore P is false

    "'the presupposition that maintaining or increasing the level of inflation won't result in a much larger deflationary process in the future.'  There is no inflation now, there is stasis leaning towards deflation. "  - I was referring to the current inflation of asset values - not the rate of inflation.  That is - if mortgage backed security was valued at X, is now X-5 but in reality is worth much less - the stimulus bill will serve maintain the X-5 value and prevent the realization of the true asset value.  This will result in another shortage of demand in the future.

    "The most a huge stimulus bill would do is stop the slide.  The one we've got now, I think, won't even do that, it will just slow the rate of the slide."  Yes but at the cost of further debasing the real value of our currency and increasing foreign debt obligations - with no long run benefit.

    "Unless you're willing to sacrifice millions...spending right now is absolutely critical." - If my argument is  true - it is moralist as it will result in a shorter deflationary period now - than a longer one later - a stronger currency and less foreign debt.

    A more apt metaphor for the stimulus would be if someone gashed their leg - encouraging the behavior that resulted in the gash as a way to stymie the gash.  I'm not arguing against charity for those in need - I'm saying that in 4 years this will be the cause of additional pain and suffering.  The best metaphor however is that of a drug addict.  Fiscal or monetary generated demand results in unsustainable highs - as the inevitable crash comes the proposed solution is to try to to get a big enough artificial boost that the global economy ignores our economic reality for a bit and we continue growth on an unsustainable path.  This will result in a worse crash than if we were to "just say no" to this drug.


    Sounds like libertarianism to me (1.00 / 1) (#101)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:17:27 PM EST
    Speak to my points... (none / 0) (#102)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 04:34:56 PM EST
    not around them.  I apologize if my initial choice of speech was diminutive.  Unfortunately there is nothing to be had reasoning with an irrational and somewhat bigoted person.  I thank you for the opportunity nonetheless.  

    Not at all the same method (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by BobTinKY on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:02:16 AM EST
    that got us here.

    This is pure Keynesian approach, demand side approach.  What got us here is nearly 30 years of supply side economics, trickle down, which has resulted in the US having unprecedented inequality in income distribution, the exporting of our manufacturing base, and financial recklessness beyond imagination.

    Keynes taught that burying jars of money would get folks working and allow them to spend again.  The unemployed aren;t "saving," they are not actors in the paradox of thrift, they are rationing to themselves whatever meager resources they have on hand.  They need jobs!

    Those of us fortunate to still be employed are holding back for fear of becoming unemployed.  The bill, at minimum, needs to create jobs, period.  That is might also produce needed investment in infrastructure is the ideal way to do this.


    What about monetary theory? (none / 0) (#45)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:19:59 AM EST
    Regarding jobs - I'm saying that any job creation through this bill will be temporary as actual market signals aren't producing demand - government allocations are - and if you look at the US's financial position it cannot sustain these actions for long.

    Keynes's belief that perpetual inflation is a maintainable policy is much more responsible than Supply-Side econ (and a big NO to me liking Reagan - I'm 24 - never voted red and don't think tax cuts make sense if you plan on expanding spending - just so you don't conflate me with those you've debated in the past).  If the Fed didn't inject easy money into the banking system via a near 1% interest rate and the government hadn't coupled that with the wink/wink socialized losses of Fannie/Freddie the financial and housing (including construction capital investments) would not have looked like viable business investments.  

    Like I said - if we keep propping up demand how will business lines restructure?  They won't because this is an attempt to suspend reality rather than alter.  In four years what will have changed so much so for the better that confidence will be restored?  I understand the moral approach of helping those who need jobs - but in the long run - if you heed the above argument - this bill is to their detriment.


    Liquidity Trap (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:57 AM EST

    Thanks (none / 0) (#63)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:33:12 AM EST
    Deflation cures liquidity traps.  Inflating to infinity isn't the answer.  It will maintain the inefficient business structures that the artificial demand injections created.  "Steady monetary growth" to eternity is not going to happen.

    Heavy inflation and fiscal policy will alleviate a liquidity trap but does not address the root causes.  Remember - we are a debtor nation - we cannot inflate without huge costs.

    Japan's "too small" fiscal injection wasn't necessarily a failure because it wasn't large enough - that it is a defensive argument to the Keynesian approach rather than proof or disproof of a theory.


    Deflation cures liquidity traps (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:53:01 AM EST
    I had this discussion before. No it doesn't.

    I clearly haven't (none / 0) (#67)
    by Samuel on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 10:11:17 AM EST
    If you would be kind enough to offer the explanation - "why deflation won't cure a liquidity trap" that would be helpful for reaching a better understanding.

    If you've already had the discussion - please link me to it if you have the time.  

    If prices drop - and people ultimately need to consume - won't currency begin circulating again?  This would be the alternative to "restoring confidence" in a highly overvalued system for what can only be temporary.  Our currency creation has upper inflationary limits - we cannot print without consequence.  


    POTUS has access to the top (none / 0) (#26)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:00:57 AM EST
    economic and business minds in the world. Who designed this stimulus package? Wouldn't a few extra weeks of having the plan properly reviewed by experts be better than racing into a "better than nothing" web of political maneuvers?

    Sorry, that dog don't hunt (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by WS on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:17:10 AM EST
    I've seen too many "let's wait" pleas on a bill to know that that is code to kill legislation.

    Swift action is needed not endless hand wringing like what you have provided.    


    A few exra weeks? (5.00 / 2) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:20:17 AM EST
    What has been going on since September?

    But..but... (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by jbindc on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 11:18:36 AM EST
    Give him a break - he's only been POTUS for 2 weeks!  Why should he have been making plans about this since September? <snark>

    That was my question (none / 0) (#62)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:32:02 AM EST
    Was this package designed by our politicians while they were more focused on their elections, or were there some real experts involved in the creation?

    If it really is a bad plan, where I work, the boss would be red in the face screaming he better see something decent on his desk by the end of the week and to get help if we couldn't do it ourselves.


    Good stimulus plans have a liberal bias (none / 0) (#43)
    by ruffian on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 09:18:34 AM EST
    Just like facts. Can't have that in the 'new politics'.

    Economist thinks BO's bill so bad doing NOTHING (none / 0) (#80)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:36:00 PM EST
    would be better! Quoted in analysis by Bernhard at MoonofAl, in Financial Times Willem Buiter writes:

    On a number of occasions I have cautioned against deficit-financed fiscal stimuli in countries whose governments have weak fiscal credibility, that is, countries where current tax cuts or public spending increases cannot be credibly matched by commitments to future public spending cuts and tax increases of equal present discounted value.  I believe that both the US and the UK fall into this category. [Now that is pessimistic!]

    I have spent a good part of my career as a professional economist working on developing countries and emerging markets - in South America, in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and in Asia.  Increasingly, I find it helpful to analyse the crises afflicting the US and the UK as emerging market crises - perhaps they could be called submerging markets crises. (Emphasis and aside mine)

    The entire Buiter piece is well worth the time to read.

    Read the post and the comments. Some excellent ideas--which Obama and Geithner, who really wants to take care of his ilk, will not do. Or if they finally realize must be done, it will be too late.

    This is gonna hurt, I fear. The nation elected the candidate of amorphous hope and change; what are we actually getting? It's looking more and more like the early Merry Banksters' money people who gave big donations to Obama knew what they were getting.

    Bernhard also notes Nouriel Rubini, another of the economists who pointed out the current problems early on, fears that Obama and his NeoLib advisers are repeating many of the by now well known mistakes of the Japanese banking crisis, which lead to a drawnout and painful recession in Japan.

    [However, Japan could still sell to the EU and USA. Now? With a global meltdown, who can we sell to? Believe, me I am no economist; I read and try to make sense of things as do most of us here. But the people I have found to be most accurate are not represented among advisers to Obama. None. The people that Bill Clinton had on board to balance the Rubin School are out in the cold. Yikes.]

    Bernhard has been saying for almost a year now, but especially since last spring, that the CDS situation (credit default swaps), especially the "exotic" financial instruments based on them, were the most toxic of the financial waste createds by the Big Bankster Boiz, needed to be addressed and any which were not based on actual contracting parties, those which were side bets, should be declared null and void.

    Nothing like that has been done, and banks are still carrying massive toxic waste which they are trying to unload on the governments of the world. At the banks' optimistic valuation (mark to hope or fantasy), not what they would actually bring on the open market (mark to market). Hence, instead of writing them off, they're hoping to gull Obama into buying them--and letting the taxpayers eat the losses.

    Bernhard most recently addressed the "Bad Banks" idea on 1/30/09, and thinks it is a very bad idea indeed.

    Oh, today, he notes that Obama's op-ed in the NYTimes could have been written by David Broder. Heh.

    Seeing the Forest highlighted this Geithner quote (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:45:13 PM EST
    to emphasize how off the mark the Obama advisers have been:

    Obama's economic team does not see themselves as working for the PEOPLE of the country, they see themselves as defenders of the Wall Street Elite. In the words of the new Treasury Secretary, "we'd like to do our best to preserve that system." (My bolding)

    This is the justification for the new plan to just use government money to buy up all the bad loans made by the big Wall Street firms. They screwed up the economy. WE pay for it. They stay rich. We get ever poorer.

    From the referenced post,

    Consider this statement from Geithner, who said that Treasury is considering a "range of options" for its financial rescue plan, with the goal of preserving the private banking system. "We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

    They are trying to avoid "nationalizing" the banks. But what that means is that the government takes them over, reorganizes them, and then privatizes them again -- in the process wiping out the current shareholders and selling the good parts to new shareholders.

    This is what we have always done with bad banks. This is what the FDIC does. This is what we did in the S&L crisis. But they don't want to do that this time.

    This Dave Johnson post has been intriguing me for days now.


    A commenter's suggestion: $50K to every American- (5.00 / 1) (#88)
    by jawbone on Thu Feb 05, 2009 at 01:51:16 PM EST
    to be spent within one year. Bypass banks.

    There may be a way to stimulate private consumption/investment with a credible built-in mechanism to recover the amount spent.

    The Federal Reserve could send every American a credit card with a (say) $50K limit subject to two conditions:
    (a) any unused credit expires within one year;
    (b) any used credit (plus interest) is repayable through the tax system if the person's taxable income exceeds (say) $100K (e.g., 10% of the debt is repaid each year that taxable income exceeds $100K).

    The credit may be used to buy anything (consumables, durables, education) but not financial products.

    This stimulates consumption/investment because:
    (a) it reduces any contraction in consumption particularly among the newly unemployed or those fearing unemployment;
    (b) it is a source of cheap credit for funding investments (e.g., in education, to buy durables, invest in a small business).

    There's more to it, and it's offered as a support to an earlier comment. Good reading.

    BTW, is it too late for HOLC?