James Surowiecki at The New Yorker offers up the secret sauce that will save Democrats from a wipeout this November. Got your pencil ready? The Democrats ingeniously back loaded stimulus spending so that its main impact would occur during the 2010 midterms. Notwithstanding that this assumption, were it true, would make liars of folks like the President, the Vice President, Christina Romer, Nancey Pelosi and Harry Reid (all of whom promised immediate relief and an 8% cap on unemployment) the brazeness of the admission is noteworthy.
Mr. Surowiecki knows this and offers the fig leaf of Federal Reserve monetary policy to airbrush his main point that half a trillion dollars in stimulus will hit the economy just as elections roll around. That’s some comfort, to be sure, for the four million unemployed in the interim. Here’s what the real political calculus of the uninhibited liberal mind looks like:
That backloading of the bill was good economics: with the Federal Reserve doing less to pump up the economy, an extra half-trillion dollars in fiscal stimulus will help pick up the slack. It was also good politics, since much of that money will be flooding into the economy during the key second and third quarters. Republicans in Congress would presumably block any Democratic attempt to pass another major stimulus, both for ideological reasons and because they have no political incentive to see the economy improve. (While you might expect all incumbents to pay the price for a poor economy, in Sides’s words, “It’s really only the President’s party that suffers when the economy’s bad.”) Pushing much of the stimulus spending off until this year made that less of a problem.
Did you get that? Republicans would act only for ideological reasons because they have no incentive for the economy to improve. But Surowiecki refuses to pass such judgement on the cynical Democrats that let millions wallow in unemployment for purely politcal means by assuaging their minds with fairytales about Fed policy. This passage illustrates the narrow world of the liberal mind that predominates in policy discussions today. It’s also a good insight into how those 50+ Democratic congressmen must be rationalizing their imminent demise.