Monday, February 9, 2009

Heckuva job, Ben!

A very special combination of corny and stupid:
"We trimmed the fat, fried the bacon and milked the sacred cows," Nelson said as debate began.
Thanks Ben! A since you refuse to speak like an adult about the cuts you've made, lets see what we've won:
-Elimination of $25 billion in flexible funding for state governments.

-Cut $7.5 billion in funding for “state incentive grants” to help states make progress toward NCLB goals.

-Eliminated $19.5 billion in construction aid for schools and colleges.

-Reduced new aid for the Head Start early childhood program by $1 billion
Great, and that's just the start. And regardless of the merits or the programs, and jobs that they create (according to Ben Nelson and Susan Collins schools build themselves, therefore not creating jobs in the process), economically the cuts could actually have a very significant impact.

Paul Krugman:

I’m still working on the numbers, but I’ve gotten a fair number of requests for comment on the Senate version of the stimulus.

The short answer: to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts.

According to the CBO’s estimates, we’re facing an output shortfall of almost 14% of GDP over the next two years, or around $2 trillion. Others, such as Goldman Sachs, are even more pessimistic. So the original $800 billion plan was too small, especially because a substantial share consisted of tax cuts that probably would have added little to demand. The plan should have been at least 50% larger.

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending — much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast — because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects — and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad.

Well, that's a cheery outlook. The bill desperately needs to pass, even in this exceedingly crappier form. This is pretty damn depressing mostly because of what it could have been. The stimulus bill was an opportunity you get maybe 2-3 times a generation, where all the factors political and otherwise align to make it possible.

Instead another type of alignment between crappy advisers and terrible political strategy took place, leaving us with the icing on the cake of Susan Collins and Ben Nelson bragging about how they "cut the pork" out of the bill.

Going forward it all comes down to what lessons the Administration takes from this fight.

Less of the "thanking Susan Collins and Arlen Spector for their patriotism" Obama and more of the fired up and kicking ass Obama would be nice.


  1. im glad pork has gone from meaning expensive stupid projects given as handouts to districts, to just meaning any money spent by the government regardless of its need or utility.

    we should probably cut all federal money given to states whose senators voted against it, don't want to encourage pork do we?!

  2. Agreed. This is similar to my plan of stripping the voting rights from all the states of senators opposing DC's representation. I feel like that would change some minds fairly quickly.