As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, February 02, 2009

High Priest Of The Church Of Not A Clue

There are two explanations for David Broder's pig ignorance here, falling along the same lines of wondering whether the last President was "stupid or evil".

Broder says that the last attempt at stimulus did not work. He was referring to the 2007 effort of handing out money in the form of rebate checks. That didn't work because it's well documented to be a terrible stimulus. Moody's wrote this chart over a year ago:

Broder concludes that, since the first stimulus didn't work, that "this is a gamble, and it's much better off that it includes the best thinking available in both parties, not one party."

Um, sir, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE FIRST STIMULUS WAS? It was a 100% tax rebate along the lines of the sum total of the thinking of one party. In fact, the "best thinking" of those people now is to weight the stimulus down with - wait for it - tax cuts, which would cost three times as much as the current plan because they want the tax cuts to be permanent, which is an even worse stimulus (There's also the point that the Republicans would push more people onto the Alternative Minimum Tax and actually RAISE taxes for the middle class while dropping them for the rich, but that's normal and besides the point I'm trying to make).

So, according to Broder, because a 100% tax rebate didn't work, we have to come up with a "bipartisan" approach that includes the ideas of those who prefer what amounts to a... 100% tax rebate.

This is idiocy, and suggests one of two things: either most of the Beltway is trying to protect the assets of the rich, or they actually don't know the meaning of the word "stimulus." And we are seeing this kind of confusion all over the media. If it's the latter, that's at least partially the fault of the Administration, who isn't doing the best job of explaining why exactly we need fiscal spending to make up the shortfall caused by plummeting consumer spending and private investment.

A correspondent raises an important point: there’s widespread public confusion between the fiscal stimulus plan — which should, on its face, be very popular — and the bank bailouts, which are deeply (and understandably) unpopular. Spending on infrastructure commands broad support; rescuing bankers from the consequences of their own folly, broad revulsion.

And the Obama administration hasn’t done much to make the distinction — and the result is much less public support for the stimulus plan than we should have.

Obviously the Obama folks are swimming against a biased media current in trying to differentiate the bailout from the stimulus. But whether this is because they want to appear above the fray and not make partisan statements in the middle of the negotiation or what, it would behoove them to clear up some of the muddle. The economy is on a very dangerous path, and yet the message to the public, from sources partisan and "nonpartisan", is either ignorantly or deliberately conflating handing out money to banks with investing in the country and creating jobs. For example, Republicans know well - from their own pollster - that infrastructure spending is massively popular and they would have lots of trouble voting against it. Indeed, many of the Republican amendments in the Senate are tied to increasing infrastructure spending.

If people got the idea that the stimulus plan both creates jobs and leaves a tangible asset for the future, it would be hard for even the Broderellas of the world to agitate against it. But people have to get that idea from somewhere.

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