The Long March to Gazebos
The Washington Post has the best chart by far
of the House's $819 billion economic-stimulus plan. ... Hub Blog has a few observations: 1.) Notice the relatively small infrastructure spending. 2.) Notice the huge health-care and education spending (in addition to the huge state-assistance and Medicaid spending). 3.) Notice how the vast majority of money isn’t spent even remotely on 'shovel ready' schedules. I'm with Martin Feldstein
, who still supports the concept of a massive fiscal stimulus package: The plan needs a massive overhaul and Congress needs to slow down, or we're going to get a truly screwed up rushed-too-fast result like we did in Iraq and the Wall Street bailout plan. But I'm not optimistic Congress can do much better for two reasons: 1.) Republicans are being Republicans. 2.) Democrats are being Democrats. ...
Speaking of Democrats, here's why their plan stinks: They've rationalized
spending for spending's sake -- and they're now using that jobs-multiplier rationale and the current economic crisis to launch every pet liberal project they can jam into the bill. Paul 'Health Care Now! Krugman
has thrown off his Nobel-economist hat and is now openly advocating taking political advantage of the situation. And Democrats are lecturing Republicans about partisanship? ...
At this point, I'm asking: Why not Gazebos? Democrats are using their jobs-multiplier calculators for everything else. Maybe they won't allow Gazebos and Bridges To Nowhere in the final bill. Those are now third-rail symbols of waste. But the logic is leading to Gazebos by any other name.
Speaking of the president and Republicans, Reader No. 1 writes in:
Careful, Barack - Peggy Noonan's mad at you. Well, she does spread the blame around. Money quote about the bailout:
"That's what the stimulus bill was about — not knowing what time it is, not knowing the old pork-barrel, group-greasing ways are over, done, embarrassing. When you create a bill like that, it doesn't mean you're a pro, it doesn't mean you're a tough, no-nonsense pol. It means you're a slob."
Money advice for the President: "The race is long. Run seriously."
Hub Blog has a major quibble with Noonan's otherwise fine column: She's too easy on Republicans, who haven't really reached out and instead have withdrawn into their tax-cuts-as-religion mode, leaving the field open for liberal Democrats to do what they want.
Back to the president, here's why he deserves blame: He allowed Congress to fill in the blanks.
But I'm wondering if he might -- might
-- be pulling a sly Ben Franklin-like ploy of allowing others to catch up, get out in front and then fall flat on their faces. ... BTW - The Economist
on the U.S. economy: 'Even worse than it looks.' ... BTW II: Some good news
on the stimulus-planning front. More trimming, please.