Empty "Liberalism"

What is "liberal?" Who knows. More importantly, who cares? When discussing the economic stimulus package, my concern has been 'will the plan work?' 'Will it help?' On this issue, it seems to me it is less important to declare political victory on votes on the bill, than trying to figure out if the bill is going to work. (Incidentally, "political victories" on legislation come at the next election, not during the vote on the bill itself.) At least, that is how I see it. Michael Tomasky takes a different tack:

[T]here is a general tendency to accentuate the negative. Partisans of both sides focus on what has been lost in compromise, but there is a crucial difference in the quality of complaint. Conservatives tend to look upon compromise and shout: "Betrayal!" Liberals have more often tended to sigh: "Well, I figured as much." The blogosphere has given liberalism an often necessary jolt of the former disposition, but it's still the general reflex of the liberal mind (again, including my own) to assume the worst and nod knowingly as it inevitably happens.

Well, today, I announce my emancipation from such habits. Goodbye to all that. The stimulus bill, imperfect as it is, does indeed represent an enormous political victory for Obama. For reasons tactical as well as substantive, liberals ought to declare victory and dance on the vast empty tundra that is the Republican present.

(Emphasis supplied.) As I understand it, Tomasky is declaring the Senate stimulus bill an enormous victory for liberalism, Obama and Democrats. Oh and forget the "bipartisan" schtick. I kid you not. To me, that is declaring defeat. This inadequate and compromised bill, will fail without more and Tomasky wants liberalism to own it. Remarkable. To be fair, as Tomasky himself writes, he acknwoledges that some folks' concerns are about, you know, whether the bill will work:

Now, to be fair, the big concern of liberals who are unhappy with this bill - they wanted it to be larger, and less focused on tax cuts - is the central question of whether it will work. They say, this is our best shot in 30 years at showing that government can be part of the solution, and it damn well better show that. They're doubtful that this bill can.

. . . Liberals should press the administration for the most progressive outcome possible. That's fine and laudable. But at the same time, let's understand that they got about 80% of what they wanted here, and getting 80% of what you want is awfully rare, in politics or marriage or at the office or anywhere.

Who's "they" Kemosabi? If you mean the Obama Administration, well that's the point isn't it? "They" did not put forward a bill adequate for the moment. Tomasky writes:

Think back. Two months ago, people were talking nervously about a stimulus package worth about $400bn. Now? Assuming the Senate and House of Representatives more or less split the difference between their two versions of the bill - they will likely iron those out this week and vote on the final passage of the new product by the week's end - we're talking twice that, with at least $500bn in new spending (the rest is tax cuts). That is, by some distance, the largest public spending bill ever conceived in the US.

Think back Mike. Two months ago, 1.2 million more Americans had a job than do today. And as for this being "the largest public spending bill ever conceived in the US," this is just false in real dollars. The New Deal initiatives spent over (in current dollar terms) 8.3 trillion dollars. In other words, more than 8 times the total spending in this bill. Tomasky is simply ignoring reality here.

And therein lies the problem. For a liberal, Tomasky has a funny notion of what the role government spending needs to be in this economic calamity. In arguing that Obama got most of what he wanted (80%), Tomasky writes:

In early 2001, George Bush proposed a $1.6 trillion tax cut. That April, the Senate cut $450bn out of it. Moderate liberal senators then put the brakes on legislation they saw as too conservative, just as moderate conservative senators last week did the same to legislation they thought too liberal. We can like it or not like it, but it's what the Senate was designed to do in the first place. Indeed, from a purely constitutional perspective, the Senate played its role here appropriately. This should not have surprised anyone.

Strange evidence for arguing what a political success this stimulus package is. George Bush, who LOST the popular vote in 2000, had the political juice to pass a 1.2 TRILLION dollar tax cut in 2001. Barack Obama, who won a sweeping victory last November, can barely muster $500 billion in stimulus spending in the face of the Greatest Depression. Some "victory."

It is ironic that Tomasky, who seems to think something more was not possible, considers himself the "optimist" while those who think much more was possible are the "pessimists." I think it is precisely the reverse.

Speaking for me only

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    Oh Come On, Big Tent (5.00 / 6) (#2)
    by Jane Hamsher on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:10:35 AM EST
    If you have a boat that will get you 80% of the way to shore before it sinks and you drown, you should be delighted.

    Allowing the GOP to jam a hole in the bottom before you set sail is "just how the Senate works."  That's their contribution to "bipartisanship."

    The "optimists" (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:14:07 AM EST
    are happy to drown a little closer to shore, Jane.

    The "pessimists" point out that we will still drown and ask that we try for something that might get us to shore.


    LOL (3.66 / 3) (#6)
    by Jane Hamsher on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:33:25 AM EST
    You're a funny guy, Armando.

    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:50:45 AM EST
    "Again, no offense, but thanks to my indoctrination from Madison Ave., I picture "Armando" as some suave, debonaire and immaculately groomed guy dressed completely in white linen and with a glass of <s>Pinot Grigio</s> [Ribera del Duero] in hand, watching the sun <s>set</s> [rise] slowly <s>into</s> [over] the <s>Pacific</s> [Atlantic] in the company of one or two special lady friends of his choosing, while lounging comfortably on the veranda of his seaside villa in <s>Dana Point, CA</s> [Jupiter, FL, occasionally Luquillo, PR] <s>-- rather than someone</s>  who [also] wishes to change people's hearts and minds by grabbing them firmly in the lower sensitive portions of their bodies and compelling them to follow."

    I'll take that idealized picture. Where's my PR guy?


    "strike" code doesn't work (none / 0) (#73)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:03:10 AM EST
    in the comments here, for some reason.

    Gallows humor (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:41:07 AM EST
    normally, (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by cpinva on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:23:23 AM EST
    Gallows humor

    the only person who enjoys that is the one pulling the lever.

    this is merely the latest in a series of "liberal" commentators essentially carrying republican water pails.

    why not, it's becoming painfully apparent that what you saw on the campaign trail is what you've gotten in the white house: an empty suit, desperate to try and please everyone, especially his worst enemies, even while they continue to flog him.

    i don't believe being a masochist is required of democratic office holders, but it sure helps.


    But as BTD quoted (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by Cream City on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:55:37 AM EST
    the new Gallup poll shows that, interestingly, the same percentage of Americans -- 80 percent -- see a stimulus bill as important or very important.

    So:  Put life jackets in the boat for 80 percent of the passengers, the ones who need a stimulus bill -- and they'll still be afloat after the boat sinks.  Let the other 20 percent sink or swim on their own!

    Seriously, if we're stuck with this leaky mess of a stimulus bill, what is needed now is stuffing lots of life jackets into it.  I hope the House puts back in funds for states and cities and schools and such that leaked out of it in the Senate.

    And Obama seems at sea in all this, so somebody better tell him the rule of the sea:  The captain goes down with the ship.


    RMS Titanic (none / 0) (#18)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:15:48 AM EST

    Yep, something about deck chairs (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by Cream City on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:31:25 AM EST
    and our Dem leadership came to mind. . . .

    Some great bands though (5.00 / 0) (#37)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:39:12 AM EST
    Nearer, my God, to thee. (none / 0) (#77)
    by oculus on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:25:17 AM EST
    True bipartisanship would be (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:13:19 AM EST
    to give the Repubs some drinks laced with roofies, then have the vote. You remember how Gingrich described bipartisanship  way back when...

    As I posted yesterday (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by Saul on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:15:03 AM EST
     Maybe the republicans know the plan will fail
    as written  and that is why they are trying to keep as many republicans from endorsing the bill.

    I had posted several  days back that Obama would only get one shot at this stimulus plan so he better check it out with the best minds and get it right.  

    There will be no second chance.

    If the stimulus plan fails that is the end of Obama, nothing that he would accomplish after that would have any significant meaning. The republicans know this. Obama's failure on this one issue is the republican's victory for the next election.

    What good will it do our Prez to check (none / 0) (#10)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:47:16 AM EST
    with the best minds? He's got people of very different views advising him on economics (and many other matters), and they are vying with each other for power.  Can't blame them, the Admin set things up this way.  Frank Rich's column yesterday in the NY Times said that Summners is already locking former Fed Reserve Chairman Volker (sp?) out of crucial meetings.

    That was a great article by Rich yesterday (none / 0) (#29)
    by Saul on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:27:11 AM EST
    This plan alone WILL fail (none / 0) (#12)
    by NealB on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:52:52 AM EST
    The math isn't even that complicated. Our economy is "down" now somewhere in the range of $2-3 trillion over a period of time. An infusion of economic aid that will re-generate that much economic activity will stop further job losses and re-create the millions of jobs that were lost under Bush and the Republicans. Tax savings generate economic activity at a 1:1 ratio, so the $300 billion in tax cuts gets us up to something less than $2-3 trillion down. The $500 billion in spending gets us a 3:2 return for another $750 billion or so.

    Best case scenario, the plan the Senate is about to pass is at least $500 billion short and that would be IF all of the $500 billion were spending.

    I've read other explanations of this that are much better but the one above is simple and at least debatable in factual terms. Repubicans and too many Democrats in the Senate have refused to participate in this debate.

    Obama needs to start punishing the Republicans (and Democrats frankly) that have lied to him and all of us about participating in this debate in good faith. Negative reinforcement is the only thing that will make a difference.


    Question (none / 0) (#15)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:10:56 AM EST
    What model are you utilizing to get those numbers?  If "Okun's Law" has anything to do with it the calculated values are of little to no significance.

    Haven't heard Okun's Law... (none / 0) (#34)
    by NealB on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:34:37 AM EST
    ...mentioned by Republicans in the debate in the Senate. Is that where they tried to show that the stimulus package was too big because it would produce a very tall stack of $100 bills?

    Snark aside... (none / 0) (#50)
    by NealB on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:05:39 AM EST
    ...what is Okun's Law. Wikipedia's entry  is slim and not very enlightening.

    To answer your question, I wasn't using a model that I know of. Just the numbers I've been reading in the few places that numbers have been provided. If these numbers are wrong, or questionable, I haven't heard or read rational rebuttals. The economy is down. Millions are losing jobs. Translated to dollars amount is in the range of $2-3 trillion. Taxes provide a 1:1 stimulus. Spending seems to average out closer to 3:2. Does Okun's Law argue these points?


    Okun's Law (none / 0) (#74)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:05:25 AM EST
    is the misnomer applied to an observed statistical relationship between unemployment and GDP.  When you site the 3:2 ratio it is derived from this historical relationship.  Though there certainly is validity in the proposed numbers, they should hardly be considered causal (in either direction) and as you can probably tell from a moments thought - these numbers are presented as though they exist in a vacuum and can be applied uniformly under a wide array of conditions.

    My objection to the use of Okun's Law pertains not to it's statistical invalidity but to the fashion with which it is being utilized in today's debate.  Seemingly all analysis using this relationship skip over the reasoned assertion that short-term job creation is no guarantee of long-term job/wealth creation.  This should be especially apparent as we observe the government operating out of the interest of "saving" businesses that simply are no longer profitable and "investing" in projects without profit motives.  

    Yes, unemployment will temporarily fall if the government spends 700billion or so dollars.  Unfortunately the real goal here is the doomed reinflation of the economy when the "cure" is deflation liquidating inefficiency and providing a solid foundation for real growth.  


    Thanks for explanation (none / 0) (#87)
    by NealB on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 02:18:01 PM EST
    I suppose we're all in favor of providing a solid foundation for real growth. But is there is a proven economic system that leads to the kind of stability we'd like? We see that Capitalism works nicely for a few in a police state, but it fails generally because its principles contradict themselves in performance. Socialism works better for more people in countries where folks are better educated, but not in cultures like the United States where so many people are barely or not-at-all rational. I suppose there are post-rational economics that could provide better stability, but how would we know?

    This time 'round, I vote for doing what's worked in the past. Reinflating the economy sounds like an excellent idea right now.


    I have read that many tax cuts (none / 0) (#20)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:18:37 AM EST
    return a lot less than a dollar per dollar cut. (I can't find the link, now but it was in a chart that showed food stamps returning $1.76, with extension of unemployment benefits coming in second.)

    Given the collapse of demand it seems that only tax cuts to lower income people would be an effective stimulus. Businesses are not going to hire or expand if demand is low. Individuals will use the tax cut to pay down debt, just like they did with Bush's ineffective tax rebate.


    Bernie, I linked an answer to your ?? previously (none / 0) (#47)
    by DFLer on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:00:27 AM EST
    This compromise bill (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:39:33 AM EST
    is analogous to a person who has a life-threatening infection deciding to compromise with  Christian Scientists by taking only half the recommended course of antibiotics.

    This isn't 80% of what I wanted. (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by masslib on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:50:07 AM EST
    Even the money going to infrastructure, for example, there is no strings attached.  The money doesn't have to be spent in a way that adheres to federal goals.  I would have liked some strings.  Say fix what we have first, don't spend the money on new bridges, highways, etc., until you fix the infrastructure we have.  I would have rather seen a big payroll tax holiday and no other tax cuts instead of the millions they have put into ineffective tax cuts on top of a small payroll tax break.  I would have liked a big infrastructure project that would transform our economy going forward, like high-speed rail and a nationalized grid.  This bill is no where near 80% of what I want.  

    And invest in mass transit (none / 0) (#24)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:21:47 AM EST
    Here in Charlotte there has been a huge increase in people using public transportation as a result of high gas prices as well as a new light rail system. Because people stopped driving so much as well as the drop in gas prices they have had to cut back on service and are delaying planned expansion. Money invested in mass transit would be keep the momentum going.

    Snort - a poltical victory for Obama? (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:13:26 AM EST
    He gets 80% of what he wants in his honeymoon period? After he 'pre-compromised' and only asked for 80% of what he should have?

    Sorry, there goes my coffee all over my keyboard.

    We'll see if the economy is improved in two years - if it is, he can claim victory then.

    Dailykos is also declaring victory. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by tigercourse on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:28:10 AM EST
    Front page post, first comment starts with, "Obama back in campaign mode! I likey"

    They are cheering for pointless, self defeating centrism.

    Some people would rather (5.00 / 6) (#33)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:33:48 AM EST
    feel like a winner than actually be a winner. It's an interesting corollary to Clinton hate.

    There are two camps (5.00 / 0) (#35)
    by Fabian on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:34:54 AM EST
    at dkos.  One is still the reality based camp.  The other is still the "Obama is great!" personality based camp.

    I've made a vow to never discuss issues with the personality people.  There's no point.  

    If you scan the diaries and comments, it's easy to sort them out.


    Yup - I liked him in campaign mode (none / 0) (#36)
    by ruffian on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:37:02 AM EST
    last week when I thought he was campaigning against the GOP "failed policy" tax cuts. But now when he has accepted them in this compromise, and is even going to cheerlead for it? What is the point now - to make the Dems in the House back down? I just don't get it.

    Dkos frontpagers have been overwhelmingly negative (none / 0) (#39)
    by byteb on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:40:18 AM EST
    about Obama and centrism. The front page post you are referring to is an anomaly.

    'will the plan work?' 'Will it help?' (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:04:35 AM EST

    These appear to be half questions.

    For who will the plan work?

    Who will the plan help?

    Obviously diverting resources from the general economy to favored political constituencies will work for and help those so favored.  It will work for those that get the cash, but not for those that get the bill.

    Perhaps the greatest success (none / 0) (#1)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 07:30:07 AM EST
    of the conservative movement was how it inculcated a relativisits, "who knows?" attitude into government.
    Bush's tax cuts were not passed because they were going to work, but because they were the "right" thing to do, in principle.
    Tomasky sees the current battle in the same way: each side is trying to get what they favor in the bill, and his authorial stance is that he has no idea who is right.

    The pro-tobacco, anti-science propaganda of the last few decades, which is of the same ilk as the global warming denying, has also contributed.
    The final nail in the coffin is delivered by journalists like Tomasky, who these days won't even bother trying to find the truth lying behind political disputes over taxes, science, whatever.

    Mebbe (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:14:35 AM EST
    I can't blame myopia from Dems on the GOP.

    True (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:44:20 AM EST
    but no matter how ineffective the Dems are, it does not absolve the media from giving the public accurate information.
    The media seems to believe it does. They seem to think their job is to just report the "he said/she said" back and forth rather than giving the public the information they need to evaluate the claims from each side. In the case of economic stimulus, there is an abundance of objective data on what works and what doesn't. Just imagine how different things would be if they actually reported it. That alone would shift the middle ground to the left.

    Approaching Addiction (none / 0) (#14)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:07:10 AM EST
    Our economy is addicted to low interest rates and money expansion.  The stimulus bill is the recognition that banks, even gorged with free Federal Reserve Notes, know better to lend in a heavily inflated environment.  Since the government can't force lending as a means to reinflate the economy - the goal has become to do so via record fiscal spending.

    Thusly the debate occurring between Republicans and Democrats is best analogized:  A heroine addict, the economy, has begun the process of withdrawal.  Reacting to the alarming spasms and the newly evident near-term suffering of such an episode two friends begin a debate on how best to help.  Their positions settle as follows: friend A thinks the addict should be injected with quantity X of heroine to cure the signs of withdrawal, friend B prefers amount X+1 claiming that the last thing we would want to do is not give the addict in withdrawal not enough heroine.

    Also, friends A and B get a cut from the sale of heroine which is paid for by the taxes and future debt/inflation of a community of people living inside the addict.

    Debt Coverage Ratios (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:20:02 AM EST
    Does anyone know if some of the banks that have received bailout money are holding onto it because they otherwise don't meet debt coverage ratios as a means of preventing federal receivership?

    I don't know (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:05:04 AM EST
    but I think you may be onto something.

    Just so you know (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:52:03 PM EST
    I'm not a rocket scientist; I worked at the RTC & attended many "interventions" which were trips to banks for which the Office of Thrift Supervision had appointed the RTC as conservator or receiver. But given the fall in value of real estate-related assets held by the banks, it seems to me debt coverage ratios may be falling below required levels.  I also wonder if the Feds aren't looking the other way, i.e., not putting banks into receivership that should be there?

    BO seemed to avoid the question when asked at his press conference tonight if the next bank bailout package was going to require that the banks lend $.  


    Here is where you and I agree (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:17:02 AM EST
    "Since the government can't force lending as a means to reinflate the economy - the goal has become to do so via record fiscal spending."

    You then descend into heroin and addiction and what not.

    As we know, you do not accept Keynes on these matters.

    which mean to me, you accept that there is nothing for the government to do but lie back and enjoy the coming depression.

    I think you are wrong of course and I know you know that will not sell politically, whatever the substantive merits of your position.

    But I do have a question - do you think Republicans really believe this "tax cuts" stuff or do you think they believe what you believe - the government can do nothing to stop the coming depression?

    Is just yelling "tax cuts" just because they need to say they are for something?  


    Republicans want a depression. (none / 0) (#22)
    by ThatOneVoter on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:20:22 AM EST
    They want to win elections (none / 0) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:22:04 AM EST
    That a depression occurs is a tangential result.

    I agree with you (none / 0) (#40)
    by NJDem on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:40:59 AM EST
    but how do you explain these Gallop numbers that show the country seems to be placing more blame on the GOP in Congress than either Obama or the Dems?  Hardly the kinda figures that will help them in 2010.  

    I think we agree this bill is bad policy and therefore bad politics, but if the country isn't blaming the Dems now, how will it hurt them in two years?  I realize by getting far worse, but still--it doesn't make sense that if the number of people supporting the bill is going down, how come their blaming the opposition/minority party more?  

    (let me know if you want me to move this to the poll thread)


    Those numbers corespond pretty closely (none / 0) (#41)
    by tigercourse on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:47:14 AM EST
    to approval numbers. "I like Obama so he must be doing this right. I hate Republicans so they must be wrong. The Democrats are on Obama's side, so they can't be all bad". Alot of people approved of the Iraq war as well. They had no trouble blaming the Republicans for it later.

    But O gets only 55% (none / 0) (#53)
    by Cream City on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:11:02 AM EST
    approval on the economy, per Gallop as well.

    The public is as at sea on all this as Congress.  But after the presser tonight, and after another couple of days of the public watching Obama and Congress muddle along about tax cuts -- for the employed -- instead of jobs for the unemployed, the numbers may coalesce more clearly.

    By then, of course, it may be too late to save the polls or the pols.  Or us.


    Sorry (none / 0) (#42)
    by NJDem on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:47:51 AM EST
    here's the link to the Gallop numbers showing 58% of American's blaming the GOP in Congress.

    Depends (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:09:01 AM EST
    on who is asking the questions and the type of questions they are asking.

    Ras has a poll out from last week that shows only 37% approve of the package (and before the o hack job the Senate did after that), and 50% of voters think the plan will do more harm than good.

    Also, 62% want more tax cuts in the plan.

    So, it all depends.


    Opinion polls at this point are useless (none / 0) (#61)
    by CST on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:29:58 AM EST
    If we learned ANYTHING from Iraq it's this: opinion polls about legislation before it's passed (especially confusing legislation) are much less important than the actual effectiveness of the bill.

    People don't necessarily understand the consequences of this stuff until they have seen it play out.

    If it works, people will approve of it.


    Right (none / 0) (#65)
    by jbindc on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:38:37 AM EST
    I think that's what I was trying to point out, although you did a much better and much more succinct job.

    And, (none / 0) (#51)
    by KeysDan on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:08:45 AM EST
    it seems to me, that they just want their taxes cut (if not eliminated) and any crisis or fear should be exploited to make it happen.   Their vision is as farsighted as the equivalent of their Wall Street friends next quarterly report--their next election.

    Interesting to note (none / 0) (#79)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:28:00 AM EST
    the CBO says Obama's plan hurts in the long run.  Who is farsighted?  

    I think (none / 0) (#85)
    by KeysDan on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:40:54 PM EST
    the preliminary CBO report (that did not include all aspects of the bill) suggested the potential for a decline in the GDP by only 0.l to 0.3 percent in 10 years--a relatively miniscule amount and a pretty long time in economic forecasts to titrate at this level. Its shorter term forecast, while iffy too,, but much less so, suggests a potential increase of 3.l6 percent in GDP and an increase of 3.9 million jobs by the end of 2010.

    I would add that (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:21:13 AM EST
    when you write "record fiscal spending" - you mean in nominal terms, not current dollars.

    Spending on WWII (none / 0) (#28)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:26:28 AM EST
    was more than 50% of GDP. Then we spent billions more - on the Marshall Plan, the GI Bill, the interstate highway system. The result? Debt quickly returned to manageable levels because of the strong economy in the '50's.

    As I write this, Lynn Sweet is sticking it to Obama for failing to sell the stimulus plan early on. She knows him from


    Be Complete. (none / 0) (#45)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:53:09 AM EST
    We began the long tradition of inflation during WWII.  Creating money out of thin air helps budgets.  

    This position shows an ignorance of history (none / 0) (#27)
    by BernieO on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:23:49 AM EST
    There is no debate about the fact that government spending got us out of the depression - even Republicans admit that, although they only give credit to government spending on WWII.

    There is a debate (none / 0) (#44)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:50:26 AM EST
    I'll have it if you'd like...  Or I can recommend something if you're interested.

    Well (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:13:27 AM EST
    there is a debate. But a very one sided one.

    On the Republicans... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Samuel on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:49:46 AM EST
    Well first.  I think that tax-cuts are a great way to begin the saving process necessary for private investment to rebound.  

    The problem with the Republicans - at least the majority of what I hear - is that they are for tax-cuts as well as huge portions of this bill.  Coming from my standpoint this is highly illogical.  All the spending that is to occur now is essentially a tax delayed into the future via borrowing/money expansion.  This means that these newly generated savings will have to be taxed or will be devalued by inflation before they have the chance to turn into capital investment.  

    As to what they actually think?  Probably a mixture of moronic narcissists who believe a mix is better and the rest are just knowingly exploiting whatever credit standing our nation has left to get access to these funds while appeasing Republican votes that say tax cuts are good but could never tell you how so in a reasoned sense.

    The government as a whole can't agree that the taxpayer should give up these funds - cause then what happens when it doesn't work?  No, there needs to be disagreement amongst the ruling class.  Get ready for 2 years of stimulus "is the surge working?" coverage.  

    To the point: tax cuts only makes sense when you cut spending - these people are morons/liars unless they make that point clear.


    Probably someone who clings to (none / 0) (#26)
    by SOS on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:23:12 AM EST
    the illusion that we can find new ways of keeping the old ways going.

    You say (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:27:38 AM EST
    The bill creating the WPA authorized spending over 3 billion dollars in 2 years on various projects in current dollar value. In other words, 6 times the total spending in this bill.
    Do you mean $3 Trillion?

    Sorry yes (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:39:54 AM EST
    I could not get the hard numbers (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 09:56:29 AM EST
    so I edited my excerpt to reference New Deal spending.

    Edited again (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:12:09 AM EST
    New Deal spending amounted to 8.3 TRILLION dollars in current dollars.

    The WPA alone spent 60 billion dollars in 2 years.

    Remember, the country had about 120 million people then.

    The contrast in huge.


    These are good things to know (none / 0) (#56)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:15:04 AM EST
    Perhaps Obama should have proposed a $5T package to begin with.

    In a world where Obama (5.00 / 2) (#62)
    by dk on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:32:10 AM EST
    is a stealth progressive, perhaps he would have.  But on planet earth, where Obama has long held himself out to have an economic philosophy closer to Susan Collins and Ben Nelson than to you or me, that wasn't going to happen.

    I don't know about 5 (none / 0) (#68)
    by Faust on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:43:30 AM EST
    But I think he should have at least multiplied whatever he thought he needed by 2.

    Advisers: "We need 800 BILLION!"
    Obama: Ok write me up something for 1.6 TRILLION.
    Congress: Cut that in half!
    Administration: OK signs bill

    Is this kind of thing really that outside the box?


    No (none / 0) (#69)
    by andgarden on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:45:29 AM EST
    It's negotiation 101.

    Simplest explanation (none / 0) (#72)
    by Faust on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:51:59 AM EST
    is that Obama was blinded by his own light. I think he really believed that the momentum he was riding on would just magically make the Republicans behave. Unfortunately, we live in a world of billiard balls and not magic wands.

    Actually, the simplest (none / 0) (#75)
    by dk on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:06:30 AM EST
    explanation is that he agrees with the Collins/Nelson plan.

    It seems to be the explanation (none / 0) (#76)
    by Cream City on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:15:21 AM EST
    for the debacles of so many of his nominations.  An analysis I read (yesterday, in my paper, can't find it now) said that Obama's staff did know full well of all the tax problems and other problems of the nominees -- but advised him that his popularity would override any problems for the appointees.

    And, of course, Obama followed that advice.  As he said, he "screwed up" -- but with no elaboration beyond that, I'm still not sure that he or his staff understand just how poorly they assessed the public reaction.  And yet there was every sign that this administration would continue, as with the campaign, to be poll-driven.  Bad data?  Or badly wanting it to be November again, instead of 2009?


    Source? (none / 0) (#78)
    by lobary on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:27:54 AM EST
    Those are compelling numbers. Do you have a source I can link to?

    to the conversion numbers or (none / 0) (#80)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 11:59:15 AM EST
    or the New Deal spending numbers?

    New Deal spending numbers (none / 0) (#81)
    by lobary on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:01:24 PM EST

    I'll get you a good link (none / 0) (#83)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:14:39 PM EST
    Give me a bit. I reference a book not on line.

    Smith's "FDR" by chance? (none / 0) (#84)
    by lobary on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:19:54 PM EST
    I have it on hold at the local library.

    Traitor to His Class (none / 0) (#86)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:44:53 PM EST
    but I would think the Smith book would have the numbers as well.

    BTD, not that it really matters ... (none / 0) (#57)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:20:04 AM EST
    but it's traditionally spelled "Kemo Sabe."

    Heh (none / 0) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:21:35 AM EST
    Is it a real word?

    No ... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Robot Porter on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:34:27 AM EST
    probably not.

    This site has a bunch of possible explanations of where the creators of the Lone Ranger got the term.


    Qui no sabe? (none / 0) (#66)
    by Cream City on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:38:57 AM EST
    Re two real words, as it were, I particularly like this line of thought that it comes from your heritage:

    A suggestion has been that Tonto, (whose name means "stupid" according to some interpretations) responded by calling the Lone Ranger "qui no sabe"  which roughly translates from Spanish as "he who knows nothing" or "clueless."

    But you can take your pick of possibilities here.


    In spanish (none / 0) (#67)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 10:41:02 AM EST
    it does indeed mean stupid - or more properly, idiot..

    RE: It doesn't have snowballs chance in (none / 0) (#82)
    by Bornagaindem on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 12:08:28 PM EST
    hell of working.

    Ha ha ha ha . The bottom line is it now a democratic stimulus filled wih trickle down tax cuts that won't boost the economy and won't create enough jobs to make a difference. For all the hype that it invests in the infrastructure that is far far less than it has in tax cuts. I hope Feinstein exercises her right not to vote for it as she outlined in her speech.

    Obama just laid the foundation for his one term presidency and we still seem to have no grown ups in charge.

    The Republican Criticism of the Stimulus Package (none / 0) (#88)
    by JohnRJ08 on Mon Feb 09, 2009 at 08:02:23 PM EST
    I'm getting more than a little annoyed with the Republican mantra that this package needs more tax cuts. That's ideology talking and not pragmatism. In order to appreciate a tax cut, you have to have a job first. On top of that, when you look objectively at how much past tax cuts have actually helped the bottom 90% of the population, they've only added up to a few extra dollars per paycheck for most people. That's not stimulus. It's a campaign slogan. The fact is that continuing to lower taxes does little more than guarantee a lowering of our collective standard of living while the country's infrastructure and government services continue to crumble. Here in California, they are about to insitutute wholesale lay-offs of firefighters and lifeguards, the streets are full of potholes, and the schools are laying off good teachers. At some point, all the selfishness and individual greed which the GOP has come to stand for has to take a back seat to the greater public good, while there's still some good left.