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

Friday, September 04, 2009

Falling Down On Making The Argument For Good Government

I think this post from John Aravosis is a little bit unfair, but only a little. The White House has soft-pedaled their defense of the stimulus package, but really with the jobs picture as it is, it was always going to be a hard sell to tell people who are losing their job that the stimulus prevented things from getting worse. The problem lay in the lack of job creation in the stimulus itself, rather than job saving. Those who follow these things closely understand that the stimulus really saved us from a deep recession if not a depression. But we also know it didn't go far enough to truly bring about recovery. Those who look at their own lives and don't pay attention to the day-to-day debate only see that they and their colleagues can't find work.

I think the White House will eventually get some credit for the inevitable recovery, but only if it includes jobs. A second stimulus simply won't happen now, and we're basically at the mercy of large firms and when they decide to hire at this point, which isn't likely in the near term if they can increase productivity without bringing anyone back.

That said, when the White House goes out and defends the stimulus, the least they can do is defend the underlying ideology. This AP "fact check" on the stimulus is fairly ridiculous, more a nitpick than a fact check, but assuming they quoted Biden right, this is terrible:

Biden exercised some restraint in his praise for the stimulus' impact. He took a more cautious approach, for example, when asked if his declaration of stimulus success means Americans can now rethink the common view that government is wasteful and inefficient.

"I think it's too early to make that decision, to be very blunt about it," he said.

No, it's not too early to make that decision. The point of stimulus is to get money out quickly and into people's hands. If anything, Biden and his team are being too deliberate about that, to keep away the newspaper headlines of wasteful spending. Pro Publica, for example, needs to blow it out their ass. Anything that creates jobs is stimulus, people. Pro Publica tries to catch Biden in a lie by claiming that money isn't flowing to hard-hit communities, when Biden was clearly talking about increased unemployment benefits and food stamps and help for all low-income Americans. It's hoops like this which modern Presidencies have to jump through that create such a "common view" about inefficient government.

But Biden needs to attack that. The fact of the matter is that public investment creates jobs and saves people's lives. It's OK to state that aggressively. If he doesn't, Republicans certainly won't. And they'll continue to demonize government.

The Administration is in a tough rhetorical spot, considering the jobless recovery. But that's not a time to give ground.

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