Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stimulus: the dirty old man from Ancient Rome?

President Obama has proposed a $50 billion infrastructure plan to help create jobs but neither he nor anyone around him want to say "stimulus".

It seems that the word "stimulus" is being treated like it's the name of an ancient Roman sex expert or some kind of dirty word the way the White House is trying to avoid calling anything to boost the economy a stimulus.

The reason of course is that the Republicans are pounding away at Obama over the first stimulus, which stimulated about as much as a 70 year old topless dancer. In other words, too little too late.

Obama was warned by just about every economist that supported the stimulus the first time that what he was proposing was too little. In other words size mattered. And Obama's stimulus was too small. ( make your own analogies).

So now Obama is getting it from both sides. His stimulus wasn't big enough in the beginning because he wanted it to be good for the Republicans too. That guaranteed that, like health care and the financial reform bill, it would be watered down and ineffective.

What Obama could have and should done with all 3 bills is what the Republicans, who know how to play politics but not to govern, would have done -- ram them all through the way they needed to be crafted using reconciliation since they were all budgetary issues and reconciliation could have been used to pass them with a simple majority.

But Obama, who has shown from day one he doesn't possess the political skills, commitment or conviction to get anything done if it faces stiff Republican opposition, is now proposing a $50 billion program to improve the transportation infrastructure to create jobs, something he could have and should have proposed more than 6 months ago.

What was he waiting for? The Republicans to warm up? Where was this $50 billion infrastructure program when Scott Brown beat Martha Coakley and Obama was ready to scrap health care reform to focus on "jobs, jobs jobs"?
It didn't happen because Obama never does anything unless he has a political, not policy motive to get something done. And his motive now is his own sinking poll numbers and that of the Democrats.

Most economists believe that what is needed is another stimulus because Obama's first time was a bust leaving a lot to be desired. But facing Republican opposition, Obama is afraid of another stimulus. He knows the Republicans will whack him with a ruler if he tries, or worse even though its the right thing to do. So for now, in its place is a $50 billion infrastructure job bill, not unlike a $48 billion transportation bill that passed months ago that was supposed to do the same thing and result in "Recovery Summer". Instead it left the economy and jobs market limp, largely because the money didnt get out fast enough.

So now Obama is trying again to stimulate the economy and create jobs without calling it a stimulus but it is probably too small.

The one thing Obama did do in his speech announcing the jobs bill was finally stand up to the Republicans. But like the first stimulus that didn't work, this temporary display of political Viagra wont be enough unless Democrats running for congress take matters into their own hands and go back to wise old Stimulus. Then at least they'll be able to respect themselves in the morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obama never does anything unless he has a political, not policy motive -- Marc Rubin

The $50 billion is for campaign kabuki theater, but the D voters are staying home, and that's no theater.