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Doubt we can believe in

Barack Obama campaigned on a mantra of change, but who could have imagined it would manifest itself so quickly? Republicans in Congress have changed their profligate spending ways and are now carrying the banner of fiscal responsibility. A story from the Associated Press reports that GOP leaders doubt the stimulus bill will pass in the Senate:

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday the massive stimulus bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats could go down to defeat if it's not stripped of unnecessary spending and focused more on housing issues and tax cuts.
While it may be several years belated it is indeed encouraging to see Republicans in Washington return to their conservative roots. Whether it's a matter of conscience or rooted in partisanship this is a refreshing change.
"I think it may be time ... for the president to kind of get a hold of these Democrats in the Senate and the House, who have rather significant majorities, and shake them a little bit and say, 'Look, let's do this the right way,'" McConnell said. "I can't believe that the president isn't embarrassed about the products that have been produced so far."
Yeah, it's a shocker that the guy who had the most liberal voting record in the Senate during his last full year isn't embarrassed by the largest expansion of federal spending in US history. McConnell also expressed surprised that Jenna Jameson wasn't embarrassed about being photographed naked.
"We cannot delay this," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate Democrats' No. 2 leader. "We can't engage in the old political rhetoric of saying, 'Well, maybe it could be a little bit better here and a little bit better there.' We've got to pull together."
Actually, we should engage in the old political rhetoric of saying, "For the love of Zeus, this bill will bankrupt the government and saddle generations of Americans with crippling debt without appreciably stimulating anything but further government spending." Considering Congress' approval ratings are lower than used car salesmen, what's your first reaction when a used car salesman tells you "We cannot delay?"

Republicans have undergone a remarkable transformation in the last two weeks. Let's hope the change is sincere and sustainable.


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Comments (28)

Have you noticed how The On... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Have you noticed how The One and his minions have been screaming 'IT'S GOTTA PASS NOW!'

No time for debate, no time for reflection, no time for examination. Makes you wonder what else is in there they don't want discovered. They've already been embarrassed about by $200 MILLION to re-sod a lawn, and MILLIONS more for STD's. Hell, there's even $500,000 FOR A DOG PARK.

Hey Dems, FUCK YOU! Time to slow down and cut the fat. Is this an economic 'stimulus bill' or a EVERYTHING WE'VE EVER DREAMED OF BILL?

You do realize that they de... (Below threshold)
retired military:

You do realize that they dems can do away with the 60 vote cloture requirement.

I fully expect them to knock it down to 55 or 58 or so.

They will say that the founding fathers never wanted a super majority (now that it suits them) and will change the rules (after all what are rules but impediments to be overcome by the democrats).

This summer we can look forward to

a. Two new supreme court seats for the sake of diversity

b. Fairness doctrine AKA thou shall not critizice THE ONE.

c. Bailouts for the Big Three. No not GM, Ford, and Chrysler, I mean newspapers, some of the big unions, (UAW and the teachers union) and Air America (we cant let it fail).

You know it really funny th... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

You know it really funny that no one is reaching out the 11 Dems who voted against the Bill.
This is a good thing. I hope it keeps up more and more Dems will realize that they will be taken advantage of.

Question not the authority ... (Below threshold)

Question not the authority of the one. If he says we need to spend a trillion dollars STAT, then so be it.
http://www.rightklik.net/

Baron,"While it ma... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Baron,

"While it may be several years belated it is indeed encouraging to see Republicans in Washington return to their conservative roots. Whether it's a matter of conscience or rooted in partisanship this is a refreshing change."

You really think they're returning to their roots?

Regardless, considering the size of this proposal, and the various aspects that have been included, I personally think that it should be rigorously and mercilously scrutinized.

If the goal is a Keynesian style injection into the economy then the spending that IS introduced should be sensible. Not that I am sold on the idea; I think it's pretty risky. And for that reason I can certainly understand the criticism that Republicans are heaving at Obama and his administration over this. If money is just handed over to banks who hold onto the $$$, or if it's directed toward questionable programs, well, it sounds like a pretty bad idea.

Granted, considering the fact that the basic prescription of the past 30 years hasn't been working of late (adjust the interest rates via the Fed to control the economy), SOMETHING has to be done. But simply throwing 700 billion dollars around will not necessarily do anything (beside create more debt).

I understand the basic theory behind all of this, but I remain pretty damn skeptical about the overall proposal. But then, I am always pretty skeptical anyway. At the same time, it's not like I think Greenspan was leading us in the right direction either.

What would be your solution, Baron?

And what do you think about something that Krugman recently wrote:

"So economic theory -- Milton Friedman's theory! -- says that spending is a more effective form of stimulus than tax cuts."

From here.

Maybe the House Republicans... (Below threshold)
davey:

Maybe the House Republicans voted against the "Stimulus" because there wasn't any pork in it for them. After it fails to pass the Senate for the same reason, maybe then a "BiPartison Compromise Bill" containing pork for the Republicans will be crafted and passed. A "Bi-Porkison" bill.

Rightklick,"Questi... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Rightklick,

"Question not the authority of the one. If he says we need to spend a trillion dollars STAT, then so be it."

I understand that this is your hyperbolic characterization of what the "liberal" mantra supposedly is, but in my opinion there is no reason to sit back an accept ANYTHING that is being done by the current administration. It should be questioned, and it should be challenged.

I say, if Republicans take issue with what's being done, more power to them. I would prefer to see them oppose issues based upon sound information, economic data, and a desire the work for the best of the nation as a whole--as opposed to just being against anything and everything that Obama does because he's a Democrat.

The last thing we need is more of the partisan crap. In my opinion, that just grinds the whole system to an absolute halt.

I am all for debate and disagreement. But at the end of the day it would be nice if politicians--on both sides--made decisions based upon the right motivations.

Davey,Bi-Porkison?... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Davey,

Bi-Porkison? Now why didn't I think of that! Of course, the solution was there all along...

That was pretty funny.

Ryan A - It should be... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A - It should be questioned, and it should be challenged.

Yes, it should. But it won't be, much. There's too many people with too many pet projects, too many 'favors' that are being repaid, and how can one be cut without cutting others? So we're forced to swallow the whole pill - even if it's going to choke our economy.

But there's always a chance it won't get past the Senate, I suppose. It depends on whether the Dems will vote in block - if they break ranks, we might see an actual stimulus package instead of this damn pork-fest that's masquerading as one.

JLawson,"if they b... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson,

"if they break ranks, we might see an actual stimulus package instead of this damn pork-fest that's masquerading as one."

So, in theory, you aren't against a stimulus plan of this kind, as long as it's not pork-o-rama?

It would be nice if the Dems were quite a bit more critical and careful about this. Seems to me that they are kind of in a rush to get something through. Would make more sense to go through it, include both sides, and try to be as responsible as possible.

Screw party lines...congress needs to actually get something done, if at all possible.

Probably not, but we can all dream.

Does anyone remember the la... (Below threshold)
Palinisevil:

Does anyone remember the last economic stimulus? The Republican economic stimulus that worked so well to turn the economy round...doh!

The last economic stimulus package that you all championed was a gimmick, a pork-tacular gimmick.

To start with we didn't have the money to pay for all the stimulus checks being sent out, so we asked China and Saudi Arabia to buy lots of Savings Bonds. Nice to know China could if they wanted call in the trillions in loans and destroy us in one single move. And everyone knows the best way out of financial difficulty is borrow more money. *eyeroll*

Now if you all went out and spent your stimulus check at Wal-Mart then well done, you did what Dubya wanted you to do. But if like the majority you used it to pay bills or saved it, then shame on you for being un-American.

Dubya wanted you to use your check to spend, spend, spend. He wanted you to not only spend your stimulus check but to spend more than what they gave you to begin with. But we didn't did we.

The last stimulus package, voted for by McCain and Obama i might add. Had just as much if not more pork in it than this new one. I'm not saying that two wrongs make a right, but why weren't the same people here complaining only six months ago about pork. If we allow partisan politics to make one sides pork right but the others sides pork wrong, then no wonder our economy is such a joke.

This stimulus package will get smaller when it reaches the Senate, or it just won't be passed. No good whining about it until then.

Plainisevil,Did yo... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

Plainisevil,

Did you read Wizbang? There were many complaints against the last stimulus,
1. We were borrowing money from China
2. People who did not pay taxes received tax checks
3. The income limits for getting money back was stupid as the higher income earner is more likely to spend money than lower income earners.
4. Many waned tax cuts for business.

Also why did 11 DEMS vote against this package?

If this is so critical lets take the time to doit the right way.

Ryan A -"So, in... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

"So, in theory, you aren't against a stimulus plan of this kind, as long as it's not pork-o-rama?"

'This kind' IS a pork-o-rama. Focusing on government projects only grows government, and government by itself cannot grow the nation's output. You can't have Department A print money, give it to Department B to pass around to Departments C through H to spend, have it collected again by Department IRS and tossed back into the mix to keep powering the economy - it just doesn't work long-term. (Think of every perpetual motion machine you've ever seen - internal losses eventually bring the most fantastical construct to a halt.)

The only thing that can stimulate the economy is OUTSIDE the govermnetal finacial system - and we've been putting money OUTSIDE the country for oil and goods for decades now. We need to get it back somehow, and the only was is to make American business more attractive as a long-term growth vehicle than what we've got.

Tossing out a lot of governmental spending without paying real attention to the source of the money that pays for it is a losing proposition for us all.

We certainly need to rush t... (Below threshold)

We certainly need to rush through a TRILLION DOLLAR spending spree, after all, a whole 42% of America supports it. We gotta do it quick before the numbers start to REALLY look bad...like as bad as Congress' approval ratings ever since the Democrats took control (not that the sheep had any trouble voting for more people they don't like in 2008, make of that what you will).

Oh, and they just announced the Dem running against Tedisco for Gillibrand's vacant House seat - some nobody, Tedisco's such a strong candidate that no big name Dems would even run against him. Not that it makes much difference, but one House seat will be flipping back Republican shortly. Probably about 85-90% guaranteed. Closer to 100% if the Dems keep pushing for this unpopular spending spree.

Palin again, proves an inab... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Palin again, proves an inability to grasp the topic. ww

JLawson,"'This kin... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson,

"'This kind' IS a pork-o-rama. Focusing on government projects only grows government, and government by itself cannot grow the nation's output."

I should have been more clear. I understand that this particular proposal is loaded with spending that doesn't really go anywhere. I meant to ask whether you agree with the basic premise that government spending can be used to stimulate the economy during depressions/recessions--the basic idea behind "Keynesian" economics.

"Tossing out a lot of governmental spending without paying real attention to the source of the money that pays for it is a losing proposition for us all."

I definitely agree with you.

Ryan A -I haven't ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

I haven't studied economics as such - I've just watched the economy since about '72 or so and try to draw conclusions from what seems to work and what doesn't. Seems to me that once you are taught the main economic theories, you constantly try to classify what's happening according to those theories, and you miss the actuality while trying to compare reality to theoretical models.

So I'm going to be inexact and sloppy here.

I look on government spending much as a match to tinder - it can start a fire, but there has to be something that can burn in the first place. It can, in certain circumstances (like WW2) spark a general economic boom - but there was a lot of pent-up demand in the economy that was waiting for sufficient investment and liquidity to allow folks to satisfy that demand, AND there was a massive need for hard goods for the war effort.

It can also serve as a damper or be wasted if the conditions aren't right or its tossed at the wrong stuff. There's a joke that the War on Poverty took 30 years and $3 trillion, and Poverty Won - in that the numbers now aren't appreciably different than they were in the '60s. A reasonable amount of thought MUST be put into government spending - tossing it at a laundry list of 'nice ideas' won't guarantee success, or even results you can find tolerable.

And sometimes government spending gets redirected through 'public outcry' - or politicians looking to pander for votes. There was supposedly a significant outcry in the mid-late 70s against money being spent on NASA - the theory was that such money should best be spent elsewhere, on housing and welfare and suchlike. So we basically starved the space program, throwing thousands of engineers and skilled technicians out of work, dumping contracts to loads of suppliers which had to lay off employees - so there was a nebulous benefit to... who?

(My cynical thought is, to politicians who could go "See! We're no longer wasting money on frivolous stuff like space and computers!" Not really to anyone else...)

So it's not enough to have the money available, it's got to be directed properly.

Ever take a blowtorch and try to light a single log with it? You'll get localized charring, and depending on how long you use the torch it might smolder a while longer - but you won't get a good fire off a monolithic chunk of wood.

You need various sizes of tinder and wood (everything from small mom&pop businesses to large businesses) to have a healthy economy. Government may provide the inital 'heat' to get started, but the fuel for a lasting fire has to come from the private sector.

Don't know where that falls in the realm of economic theories - hope it makes sense to you...

So, short form answer to your question - can government spending be used to stimulate the economy during a recession/depression - would be yes... with lots of qualifications. Throwing money out carelessly can do as much (if not more) harm than good.

hcddbzI've only be... (Below threshold)
Palinisevil:

hcddbz

I've only been on here for just over two months so no i haven't read any of the posts made from six months ago. Yes there probably were a very small few who criticized the pork in the last economic stimulus, but as politics go i bet the majority championed it.

As i said hopefully this bill will stall when it gets to the Senate, it will either have most of the pork taken out or it will have some Dem pork taken out and some GOP pork put in. Or it just won't pass and it'll be back to the drawing board.

Palinisevil - "Yes ther... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Palinisevil - "Yes there probably were a very small few who criticized the pork in the last economic stimulus,"

First you admit to only being here a couple months and haven't read as far back as 6 months ago.

THEN, you fall down a rabbit hole by claiming a "very small few" were against the first "economic stimulus" package without doing a bit of fact checking via the search function onsite.

Stating opinion as fact again? Haven't you spent the last couple days decrying that?

And BTW, the package passed previously wasn't an "economic stimulus" bill. It was a bank bailout.

JLawson:Thanks for... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson:

Thanks for your response.

"Seems to me that once you are taught the main economic theories, you constantly try to classify what's happening according to those theories, and you miss the actuality while trying to compare reality to theoretical models."

I think that's a very good way of putting it. Academics do tend to get caught up in putting the world into little theoretical boxes--whether that makes sense or not. The model can never grasp reality, which is always changing. Good point.

I agree with you again. And when people go around talking about Keynes and Friedman and all the standard lines of thinking, they often act as if that's all there is to it. The truth is we know a lot less about our massive economic system than many economists and politicians let on.

I like your fire analogy as well.

"So, short form answer to your question - can government spending be used to stimulate the economy during a recession/depression - would be yes... with lots of qualifications. Throwing money out carelessly can do as much (if not more) harm than good."

Ya, I think I agree with you there. And I think that the current proposal needs some serious revision, at least from what I know about it. I do think that some spending on social programs is a good thing--but it has to be done carefully. As you say, throwing money all around doesn't do anything, even if it "looks" like something has been accomplished. I do like the housing incentives and some of the infrastructural investments that the Repubs are suggesting. So there are parts from each side that I think make sense. It's a matter of whether our politicians can work to produce something that actually makes sense overall...

We'll see soon enough.

To hcddbz credit he did rig... (Below threshold)
Palinisevil:

To hcddbz credit he did right from the start criticize the bailout. I applaud him.

The last thing we ... (Below threshold)
The last thing we need is more of the partisan crap. In my opinion, that just grinds the whole system to an absolute halt.

Yes, but that's a feature, not a big.

Personally, I'm in favor of gridlock. Seriously. The last thing we want to hear out of Washington DC is some press secretary announcing "we've got bipartisan approval on such-and-such" because that's when we can be sure we're about to get royally screwed.

the guy who had the most... (Below threshold)
Brian:

the guy who had the most liberal voting record in the Senate during his last full year

If you want to be taken seriously, you shouldn't go around spouting soundly debunked falsehoods.

Brian,Debunked by ... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Brian,

Debunked by whom? You? That National Journal link explains their methodology and reasoning for using it pretty well.

Ryan A -"Academics... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

"Academics do tend to get caught up in putting the world into little theoretical boxes--whether that makes sense or not. The model can never grasp reality, which is always changing. Good point."

Theory is fine - but reality trumps theory.

Found a database that has the professions of congress members before they got elected. Just for grins, I tried the following terms.

Engineer - 4 Representatives.
Doctor - 1 Senator, 6 Representatives
Lawyer/Attorney - 43 Senators, 145 Representatives

I'm wondering if that isn't part of our problems right there. Lawyers (in my humble opinion) aren't particularly concerned with reality - they're concerned with winning their cases or causes, regardless of the results for the other side. And what we're seeing nationwide is a result of an inability to look beyond their need to 'win their case' to see what's best for the country. Obviously, what they WANT is what's best for the country, right? How could they think otherwise?

Debunked by whom? You?</... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Debunked by whom? You?

Did you follow my link? Did you read it? Did you see the post two above it that linked to this site?

That National Journal link explains their methodology and reasoning for using it pretty well.

Yeah, and their methodology was "we hand-picked 99 votes out of 657 that gave us the result we were looking for".

Baron, I believe a post abo... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Baron, I believe a post about being wrong is in order. Remember how you you just KNEW that the President would appoint a Hispanic to Commerce once Richardson backed out? Just a reminder.

Brian,Did you read... (Below threshold)
Baron Von Ottomatic:

Brian,

Did you read the National Journal link you provided? They chose those 99 votes because they were the sorts of bellweather bills that give an indication of a Senator's ideology.

Honestly, what can you take away from resolutions re-naming airports and such crap that makes up a majority of the other 1,000+ votes?

Either way, if he wasn't "the most liberal Senator" he was "one of the ten most".




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