Harmful Unseriousness

The policy problem with the Obama Administration's silly political gimmick - the spending freeze - is that it basically accepts the idea that there is an immediate need to cut government spending when in fact there still remains an urgent need to increase government spending to spur our stagnant economy. If we were to treat the proposal seriously, and the Village will, then the Obama administration has completely undermined the chances for effective policy to address our economic woes. Mark Thoma writes:

[This] political trick[] [is] likely to backfire. How will this look, for example, if there's a double dip recession, or if unemployment follows the dismal path that the administration itself has forecast?

Brad DeLong writes:

As one deficit-hawk journalist of my acquaintance says this evening, this is a perfect example of fundamental unseriousness: rather than make proposals that will actually tackle the long-term deficit--either through future tax increases triggered by excessive deficits or through future entitlement spending caps triggered by excessive deficits--come up with a proposal that does short-term harm to the economy without tackling the deficit in any serious and significant way.

The fundamental problem of our government's fiscal structure is that the rich (individuals and corporations) are undertaxed. The Obama Administration's sell that the problem is government spending, not the undertaxing of the rich, is a terrible mistake. Both in terms of policy and politics.

Speaking for me only

< Spending! FREEZE!!!! | Skipping 1993 >
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    There is also a government spending problem (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by BDB on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:33:06 AM EST
    But it's in the areas Obama is specifically not going to cut - namely defense.  We cannot afford to continue our current multi-war effort, at least not without a huge tax increase (which Obama is also unwilling to consider).  

    You cannot raise spending and not talk about defense and be at all serious.

    This is just more cram down of the middle class to pay for wars, bank bailouts and low tax rate on corps. and the wealthy.

    I should've vote for McCain.  At least then the damage would be given the label conservative.  Instead, all of this will be done and called liberalism and when it fails, it's the left who will be blamed.

    So, (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 08:06:55 AM EST
    Is this a trick from the old Bush playbook, or is it a real concern? This is on the front page of MSNBC this morning - does it lend itself to maintain, even increase defense spending, or is it a ploy?

    When al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called off a planned chemical attack on New York's subway system in 2003, he offered a chilling explanation: The plot to unleash poison gas on New Yorkers was being dropped for "something better," Zawahiri said in a message intercepted by U.S. eavesdroppers.

    The meaning of Zawahiri's cryptic threat remains unclear more than six years later, but a new report warns that al-Qaeda has not abandoned its goal of attacking the United States with a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon.

    The report, by a former senior CIA official who led the agency's hunt for weapons of mass destruction, portrays al-Qaeda's leaders as determined and patient, willing to wait for years to acquire the kind of weapons that could inflict widespread casualties.

    The former official, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, draws on his knowledge of classified case files to argue that al-Qaeda has been far more sophisticated in its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction than is commonly believed, pursuing parallel paths to acquiring weapons and forging alliances with groups that can offer resources and expertise.

    "If Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants had been interested in . . . small-scale attacks, there is little doubt they could have done so now," Mowatt-Larssen writes in a report released Monday by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

    The report comes as a panel on weapons of mass destruction appointed by Congress prepares to release a new assessment of the federal government's preparedness for such an attack. The review by the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism is particularly critical of the Obama administration's actions so far in hardening the country's defenses against bioterrorism, according to two former government officials who have seen drafts of the report.

    The commission's initial report in December 2008 warned that a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction was likely by 2013.

    meaning nuclear? (none / 0) (#5)
    by observed on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 08:52:49 AM EST
    Or chemical or biological (none / 0) (#6)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 08:55:57 AM EST
    De Long Updated his post (none / 0) (#2)
    by kidneystones on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:34:22 AM EST
    An 'anonymous' administration source is now claiming it's 'his understanding' that the 'freeze' won't actually take effect until 2011, or 2012.

    Could this get any worse?

    With Obama (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by BDB on Tue Jan 26, 2010 at 07:40:35 AM EST
    as with Bush, it can always get worse.