Tuesday, January 26, 2010

There's No Freeze on Stupid Ideas

Apparently our economic situation is now serious enough that it requires a political gimmick that was laughed out of the room when the McCain campaign gave it a try:
President Obama plans to announce a three-year freeze on discretionary, “non-security” spending in the lead-up Wednesday's State of the Union address, Hill Democratic sources familiar with the plan tell POLITICO.

The move, intended to blunt the populist backlash against Obama's $787 billion stimulus and an era of trillion-dollar deficits -- and to quell Democratic anxiety over last Tuesday's Massachusetts Senate election -- is projected to save $250 billion, the Democrats said.

The freeze would not apply to defense spending or spending on intelligence, homeland security or veterans.

The proposal is in line with a plan floated by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a fiscal hawk, who told Bloomberg's Al Hunt last week that there was a “fighting chance” Obama would propose a freeze in most discretionary spending by the federal government as part of his address.
It's an idea so blindingly stupid that you don't even know where to start. Krugman:
It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.
I happened to be watching Rachel Maddow's show when she absolutely demolished Jared Bernstein (who happens to be the only economist I really like in the administration) when he tried to defend this insanity:

You gotta feel for Bernstein a bit because you know this wasn't his idea (again, he's a smart economist), and he was sent out there to defend something that cannot defended in any logical way. When looking at the impact, as usual atrios said it best:
I guess the best defense of the "spending freeze" is that it's a cheap political gimmick with little actual impact.
Yep. Engaging in cheap political gimmicks while the economy burns. Voters will love that, just ask John "suspend my campaign until the economy clears up" McCain.


  1. nah you don't understand JJ, he has to do this.. political capital reserves were getting a bit low, nothing the political capital counters love more than something that pundits claim will play well with your average joe.

  2. "ease that squeeze" Obama 2012