Monday, February 9, 2009

My-Way-Or-The-Highway Disease...

I'm sorry, but does Paul Krugman, esteemed Professor of Economics, Nobel Prize Winner, understand how the Constitution works?

Now, I'm not about to dismiss what Paul Krugman generally has to say. Let me acknowledge something that too many writers are afraid to: SOMEONE WHO IS NOT ME KNOWS MORE ABOUT THE FREAKIN' ECONOMY THAN I DO.

Wow. That wasn't hard.

At the same time, I'm not sure Dr. Krugman knows more about Politics than I do. That's what's been scaring me about his last few columns and blogposts.

Then again, he was a Hillary supporter.

(Sorry Hillary Supporters out there, but I've come to notice that some Hillary supporters out there in the Press and Blogosphere are quicker than most to slam the President when he miffs them for whatever reason. Steve Clemons is another example of this.)

Okay, back to Krugman.

He knows more about the Economy than I do. (Duh.)

He knows more about the Economy than you do. (Double Duh.)

He's right about the size of the Stimulus (hint: it's not big enough).

He's right that Obama got nothing for his outreach to Republicans (hint: they gave him nothing for trying to reach across the aisle).

But whether we like it or not, the Senate Republicans had a right to try and derail this thing.

They're going to fail, and fail miserably…but they had a right.

Would that Democrats had shown the same spine during the Patriot Act debate, or when they were hemming and hawing over Bush's Tax Cuts.

Now, let's be honest, it's incredibly stupid policy, and politically suicidal for the GOP to do this. (Polls are showing that the Congressional GOP is taking it in the shorts.)

Note: Before we all go hand-in-hand into the insanity of repealing the filibuster, let us remember that one day we won't be in the majority, and that throwing away the minority's power isn't exactly thinking-ahead. Plus, how loud were we all --rightly-- howling when they wanted to take away the filibuster with the Nuclear Option not that long ago??

In his article: The Destructive Center, Paul Krugman doesn't spend two pages eviscerating brain-dead "moderates" like Ben Nelson (D-NE), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (the people who jammed this compromise down our throats). No instead, he spends his time eviscerating President Obama.

All in all, the centrists’ insistence on comforting the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted will, if reflected in the final bill, lead to substantially lower employment and substantially more suffering.

But how did this happen? I blame President Obama’s belief that he can transcend the partisan divide — a belief that warped his economic strategy.

After all, many people expected Mr. Obama to come out with a really strong stimulus plan, reflecting both the economy’s dire straits and his own electoral mandate.

Instead, however, he offered a plan that was clearly both too small and too heavily reliant on tax cuts. Why? Because he wanted the plan to have broad bipartisan support, and believed that it would. Not long ago administration strategists were talking about getting 80 or more votes in the Senate.

But wait! There's more:

So has Mr. Obama learned from this experience? Early indications aren’t good.

For rather than acknowledge the failure of his political strategy and the damage to his economic strategy, the president tried to put a postpartisan happy face on the whole thing. “Democrats and Republicans came together in the Senate and responded appropriately to the urgency this moment demands,” he declared on Saturday, and “the scale and scope of this plan is right.”

No, they didn’t, and no, it isn’t.

Your confidence is always appreciated, Professor Krugman.

Dr. Krugman does understand that Legislation originates in the Congress, right?
I mean, as much as Obama can offer up suggestions, or even make demands, it's going to start in some poor schmuck Congressman's (or Congresswoman's) hands first, and then get exposed to the rotting open air of the Leglistative process, where we've gone from a few egos, to 535 of them.

But the egos aren't just on Capitol Hill. I think a lot of pundits seem to be suffering from some kind of left-wing variant of George Bush syndrome (also known as My-Way-Or-The-Highway Disease). Wherein everyone with a soapbox declares their economic plan as the only way out, and then follow it up by declaring if his (or her) plan "isn't passed exactly as I have written it, the economy will implode and it'll all be Obama's fault for not listening to me."

Obama campaigned on a promise to change Washington and reach across the aisle. Now suddenly, a lot of people on our side of the aisle seem to be saying "You really didn't mean that, did you?"

The President clearly reached across the aisle as promised. The Republicans slapped him in the face for it. Message received. Obama turned around and started firing back in the last couple of days, culminating in tonight's Presser and the Town Hall in Elkhart, Indiana (a safe McCain district rewarded for their loyalty with %15 Unemployment.)

Krugman's take is only valid if you do not accept what the President was doing was part of a larger strategy.

There is the Banking Strategy, Regulatory Reform, and Health Care Reform.

More importantly, there is Stimulus Parts 1 and 2.

The currently Stimulus Package may be too small for what needs to be accomplished, but ripping the President makes sense only if you assume that this is the only Stimulus package we need this year.

Back on January 5th, Richard Wolffe of Newsweek posited that very notion on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

(Richard's part begins about 2:47 into the video, but his part about a second stimulus begins about 5:58 into the video).

But at the same time, believe it or not, there was a warning of the dangers of too much stimulus.

Under current conditions, however, it's much better to err on the side of doing too much than on the side of doing too little. The risk, if the stimulus plan turns out to be more than needed, is that the economy might overheat, leading to inflation

Who left us with that little nugget?

Oh yeah, Paul Krugman.

Now, to be fair, he said more than that, and that certainly wasn't the crux of his argument. He was, and remains, afraid that any Stimulus Shortfall won't be made up by the Fed or anybody else.

Clearly, someone in the Obama Administration is also afraid of the Economy overheating, and leading to inflation (I am SO learning this on the fly), so why not break the Stimulus into two parts?

The overall strategy, I think, was to have a big, broad, bi-partisan bill come out early on, get signed; and then see what happens. With the size of the Stimulus Package we're talking now, the Economy would start to get a little better, but at the same time, not be totally on the road to recovery. Thus, Obama would turn to the Congress and say we need more, and while some bellicose Republicans would throw up their arms in the air (like they just don't care…'cause they don't), but by then they would have already invested too much in the Stimulus to let it fail.

Clearly, that's not going to happen now.

But it's going to be interesting. A second round of stimulus is clearly going to be a harder sell than the first. But there are tricks (of the dirty underhanded partisan kind) that can get around that. Attaching said Stimulus II to the Defense Appropriations Bill comes right to mind.

I'm not 100% sure how Banking Reform and Regulatory Reform fit within the Congress? Does Obama have to do to them, or is he going to make sweeping changes to the way they do business without them?

And then there's Health Care Reform. I really want to see what happens with that one. We've had the Republicans freaking out over the concept of Stimulus. I've long assumed that the Health Care debate was going to be one of the Senate's uglier chapters.

But if you see…night after night…day after day…of Republicans on the T.V., arguing against Health Care the way they've argued against the Stimulus Package?

Christmas could be coming early this year.

Originally posted at Fort McHenry II.

1 comment:

(S)wine said...

We need to stay involved, to write to these senators of ours who are impeding an attempt at extrication from one of the worst collapses in history. This is not a time to stand by and watch the sharks go at it in Washington...write to our politicians, stay informed and see who is doing what, who is impeding which aspect of change. We voted Obama because we believed in change; we cannot stand by and watch this junk deteriorate into partisan fights. We have to threaten these people with our votes: you're out next time you come up for re-election. Nothing will move if there is business as usual in DC. And Republicans are making it so. Status Quo is not the answer now.